SO, you’ve been hearing a lot about journal writing and you’re curious about it. You wanted to start journaling but, maybe you thought that it’s overwhelming, daunting and you want to be guided. Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place!
AND… Here’s the truth: journaling doesn’t have to be hard and overwhelming!
Today, I will share with you the best tips and a full guide to starting a journal super quickly and easily!
Plus, you can download a free printable worksheet that consists of easy prompts to introduce you to meaningful journaling!
Now, make yourself comfortable, grab a cup of tea, a pen, and paper, take some notes, and without further ado, LET’S BEGIN!
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What is Journal
So, “journal” is an Old French word that means “daily”.
A journal is used to simply record our feelings, thoughts, and/or outside events. It is where you write everything you observe or ideas you collect that will serve for you to remember those moments and reflect on them.
Why Start a Journal
Aside from the reason that journaling is your tool to discover yourself, there are actually tons of reasons why you must start a journal. Here are some of them:
1. Journaling is a proven method to reduce anxiety and improve mental clarity.
I’ve read interesting research recently from the University of Colorado.
Researchers conducted a study to determine if reflective journaling is an effective strategy to address nursing students’ anxiety.
They found that the anxiety state of the participant has decreased after taking 4-week reflective journal writing exercises.
There are countless studies about the effectiveness of journal writing. Personally, I love journaling because it helps me to calm and “declutter” my busy mind.
This tool has also been used as a therapy since the 1960s from Dr. Ira Progoff’s workshops called the Intensive Journal Method.
2. Keeping a journal boosts your creativity.
The majority of the famous writers and artists are avid journal writers like Virginia Woolf, Leonardo Da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, and Anais Nin.
It’s simply because writing down your thoughts whether in a paper or digitally is like unlocking all the ideas that you don’t usually notice before you write them.
3. Journaling helps you to set goals and organize your life.
In journal writing, you are not just writing down your ideas and thoughts. You are also using the power to set your goals by creating a blueprint of them from your ideas.
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Types of Journals
It’s really daunting to start a journal with just the idea of “write down your thoughts” at first. So, here are the common types of journal that you can do to simply get started:
This type of journal is basically journaling without any format.
This is the format that I personally use because I really like to have freedom in my writing. You can write whatever you want. Your frustrations, your stress, what makes you happy, and so on.
In the worksheet that I created, there’s a “free-writing” section, where you can write anything you want so you can practice letting out your thoughts into paper.
I intentionally included that section because I think, the first step that you need to develop in journal writing is being comfortable writing down your thoughts into paper and just letting it all out.
2. Bullet Journal
The next type of journal that is also fun to do especially if you’re creative and artsy is Bullet Journaling. This is where you can also customize and organize each section from your daily to-do lists to your monthly calendar notes. This will help you be more productive, organized, reach your goals, or just journal aesthetically!
3. Gratitude Journal
The third one is gratitude journaling. This journal writing method is a great way to record all the things you are thankful for in your life. You just have to spend a minimum of five minutes each day to reflect on what are the things that you are grateful for. Try to list at least three things daily as a starting point and increase it over time.
Journal Writing Tools
Now that we’ve already tackled some information about journaling. It’s time to know the right tools that you need! So here are some supplies to use to start pen-and-paper journaling:
1. Journal Notebook
Since journals are traditionally hand-written, journal notebooks are the most recommended tools to start with.
Journal notebooks are usually 6”x4” with ruled pages and strap to protect the pages and cover. But you don’t have to limit yourself from it, use the one you really like.
Choose the best pens that support your hand-writing and designs of your entries and spreads for Bullet Journaling. Some types of pens that you might use are colored pens, gel pens, and fountain pens.
3. Journaling Kit
Journaling kits are the must-have supplies to make your journal more aesthetic especially for Bullet Journaling. This includes washi tapes, stickers, highlighters, etc.
If you want to start journal writing digitally, there are lots of journaling apps out there, but here are the apps and platform that I highly recommend:
I’ve been using this journaling app for a while now, and I absolutely LOVE it!
What I like about this platform is you can add photos in each entry, set reminders for your journaling sessions, and it has a calendar view!
I also love it because it backs up your journal entries in Google Drive, and it’s FREE. It has a paid plan but the free features are enough to get started!
The second one is Happy Feed which is a gratitude journaling app. I am also using this app, I think, for a year now and it helped me to reflect on what are the good moments that happened to me each day!
The minimum moment that you can record is one and the maximum is three, which is a good starting point if you want to begin gratitude journaling.
I love that you can also set a reminder and it notifies you with daily encouraging quotes to motivate you to be grateful!
Also, you can join a community and share your moments with them by creating ‘Pods’. Plus, you can start gratitude journaling with this app for FREE, as well
The third journaling platform that I’m loving is Offload Journal. It is basically like a library of resources for journaling such as templates and courses.
I’m currently doing here the 5 Minute Journal and it’s so good! I love that it gives you the estimated time to finish each journaling session and course! Also, you can join a Group Journaling. It’s really fun and you can try it for FREE!
When to Journal
You might be wondering now what is the best time to journal.
No one really could tell you when you “should” write in your journal. It’s best if you could determine it on your own.
To help you, here are some of my tips to identify your own time for journaling:
1. Determine which time you are most productive.
The first tip to identify when you should journal is to know which time you are on your flow. For instance, you are more productive every morning. Include journaling in your morning routine at least for a week and see if you will be consistent in that.
2. Journal in the morning and evening.
If you don’t know which time you will become consistent in journal writing, try writing in both morning and evening. Do this for a week and see at which time you became more consistent.
3. Try Interstitial Journaling.
I talked about this journaling method in my latest post but basically, it is journaling while you work. The idea of this journaling method is to help you release your thoughts into the paper before moving to other tasks. So, if you think you don’t have time to journal because you’re a REALLY busy person, this is perfect for you!
Writing a Journal Entry
Writing your first entry is so intimidating because nothing is scarier than a blank piece of paper, right? Below are the tools that you can use to stop feeling intimidated as you write your first entry:
1. Use journal prompts
Journal prompts are simple statements or mostly open-ended questions to give you inspiration and ideas of what you will write about.
I’ve created a FREE journal worksheet designed to help you begin your journaling! Just click here or the button below to download it now!
2. Free Associations
Stephanie Dowrick described the Free Association as one of the rewards in journal writing in her book called Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection.
She described it as the “unsought and sometimes emotionally very powerful associations that come to mind” because journal writing is giving it space.
To do this, you just have to let your eyes or attention dive into something that is outside yourself. You can close your eyes and let words come in and write it down.
THERE YOU GO! You just started your journal, how easy is that right?
Last reminder: Be consistent and keep building your journaling habit. You might not automatically feel the improvement and the benefits of it. But trust me, you will surely feel and notice it in the long run!
The most important thing is you started and I know you can do it! I believe in you!
You can bookmark this blog post so you can come back here if you need this guide. Comment down below if you have any questions or you need help, and I’ll be there! Also, don’t forget to download your FREE worksheet here!
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Jocelyn is a coffee lover who believes that a bad day with coffee is better than a good day without it. You can find her obsessing over stationery, hanging out with her cat, or singing her favorite Taylor Swift songs.