It’s not hard to get started writing a journal. There are numerous types and styles of journals. From leather bound grimoires to fancy digital printable journals, from plain spiral notebooks or old school notebooks, you can get a journal that suits every mood and demographic.
Journaling has long been held as a great habit to have for mental wellness. It’s a way to sort out your own thoughts, to clear your mind and to help you track your moods and patterns of behaviour. It’s also a great way to improve your writing and communication skills. And the physical act of journaling can be an important part of a routine that gets you started in the morning or helps you wind down at night.
Get started writing a journal
There are multiple ways to journal that can be effective depending on your goals. Gratitude journals remind us to count our blessings. Planner journals help us focus on our goals. Memory diaries can leave records for the next generation. Prayer or dream journaling may help you grow your spiritual or emotional health, while food journals can do the same for your physical health. And there are lots more.
You don’t need a fancy notebook or program, and you don’t need to have a ritual either. Journaling can be as simple or meaningful as you make it. And you can simply get some paper (or your computer) and get started today.
Here are 8 tips to help you get started writing a journal.
Dust Off Your Pen and Paper
You don’t need anything special to keep a journal; in fact, purists believe that using pen and paper is the best way to journal because you can carry it with you anywhere and you don’t need technology. So, there will be no excuses.
There’s something about the physical act of handwriting that helps make journaling special. Science has shown us in multiple studies that people who physically handwrite their goals will achieve them more often. And the act of writing forces you to slow down and think about what you’re saying. That helps you pay attention to what is coming out of your brain — and heart.
Do It First Thing in the Morning
Don’t procrastinate about keeping your journal. It’s best to do it in the morning before you begin your day so that you have the right frame of mind for the day. Plus, you only need five to ten minutes, so it’s not that big of a deal.
Writing a journal entry first thing in the morning can help you get clear-minded and focused on your goals. Affirmations, plans, dreams, prayers and other motivational entries will motivate you and improve your mood, so you start your day on the right foot.
Do It Last Thing at Night
Another time to do it is before bed. This works especially well for gratitude journals. That way you can go to sleep thinking about all the things you are grateful for instead of things you’re worried about.
Journaling is a fantastic addition to a bedtime routine. Writing down what happened during the day, tracking your mood or behaviour, or writing out your goals can help you clear out your mind before going to sleep, leading to a more restful night. A “brain dump” is one of the best benefits of journaling, and it’s a great way to end your day.
Write Every Single Day
Whenever you choose to do it, try to set it up so that it becomes a ritual and a habit. Journaling every single day is going to be more effective than just doing it when you feel like it. Making it a part of your morning and/or evening routines helps you not only remember to journal, but makes sure you’ll reap all the benefits of journaling.
It’s ok if at first you don’t journal every night or every morning. Try to stay consistent as much as possible, though, so the habit will develop. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’ll look forward to that “morning meeting” with yourself, or that night time ritual.
Don’t start being worried about style and substance right now; just work on the daily habit with pen and paper (or if it’s easier for you, a computer or smartphone). Don’t make it hard – just get going.
You don’t always have to write pages and pages. For some people, one line a day is enough.
Don’t censor yourself either. This is your journal, so you can write whatever you want. Maybe you’ll copy a quote that struck you just right that day. Or maybe it will be a memory that you want to hold on to. You don’t even have to use full sentences, but just bullet point or write scraps of phrases that go through your head.
The key is to just keep writing.
Begin with Today
Start right now and write about your day today. That’s the easiest thing to do. What of significance happened today? How did you feel about it? What would you do differently? What would you do the same?
Is there something you want to do someday? Did you dream something you’d like to analyze? Is there a past memory you want to write down so you can start to process it better?
Pull out a notebook or pull up a blank document on your computer, and start writing.
Try Different Types of Journals
Once you develop the habit, you can start trying different types of journaling like a bullet journal, or a vision journal, or maybe even a project journal for your next project. There are so many different kinds of journals and journaling tools out there to try.
If you aren’t sure what kind of journal you want, try journal writing prompts to help you get started writing a journal.
Keep It Private
The main thing to remember about your journal is that it should be kept private. The only exception is if you want to share thoughts with a therapist, counselor, or coach. Or if you want to turn it into a book or course, to help someone else overcome whatever you overcame.
Keeping a journal will help you deal with the things that happen to you as well as the things that have not happened to you. The main reason is that writing it down helps you remember what you did right and what you did wrong. It helps you improve your decision-making capacity for similar situations. The main thing is just to get started journaling in any way that works for you.