“Dear diary…”

These words tend to come to mind when journaling or keeping a journal. But this isn’t all that journals can be used for. Journals can be beneficial for several reasons, whether writing down your feelings, random thoughts, memories, doodles, etc.

Have you ever wanted to start a journal and never knew how? Or have a bunch of journals lying around and not know what to do with them? As you continue reading, you will learn more about how to start a journal and a few ways one can be filled.

How to Start a Journal

Writing is Important

Why Journal
It helps our mental and emotional health and allows us to express our thoughts. Image courtesy of The Conversation.

Writing is not just a great skill but also a great way to remember things and put your thoughts down on paper. It allows you to communicate and clear your mind of what may be bothering you. The ability to write is also a beneficial life skill in the work world and can even be fun. 

Although you may not have much experience at this very moment, the more you write, the better you will become. Like any other life skill, it just takes time and the ability to learn. As you continue, you will know how to start a journal and find different ways to fill one up later.

Materials needed to start a journal.

What many people who write would recommend for you to get started

Materials needed for Journaling
There are several items one can choose to journal with. Image courtesy of Artful Haven.
  • A journal = This can be a hardcover or a soft notebook.
  • Something to write with = This can be a favorite type of pen, pencil, or marker. You just need some sort of utensil that gives you the ability to write.
  • Somewhere to sit and write = Now, this leaves you with endless possibilities. Some of you may enjoy sitting in bed or on the couch, while others may enjoy going to a local coffee shop or somewhere outside, such as a park, to write. Wherever you choose, make sure you bring what you need to accomplish, whatever it may be that you are sitting and writing about.
  • Something to drink = Now, this isn’t necessarily a required thing you will need while writing, but it can be nice to have water, soda, coffee, or even yes, that end-of-day glass of wine to sip on as you sit down and begin writing.
  • Miscellaneous items: music, headphones, sticky notes etc.= These items can be helpful if you don’t feel like sitting in dead silence or want to tune out the environment around you. Some may enjoy the bustle of life around them, while others may just want to be able to tune out the world around them and focus on what they write down. 

And sticky notes can be a valuable tool to keep in hand in case you find yourself writing something you may need to have with you later. They are also an excellent tool; if you go back and look at what you have written and decide that you want to add something or if there was something you forgot to add, you can still go back and add it.

Seven Tips for Starting a Journal

Now that you have gathered your materials, it is time to write.

journal ouside
Your surroundings can sometimes be your most incredible inspiration, courtesy of Prep Scholar.

Now, as you begin your journaling adventure, don’t worry if you can’t come up with things to write down right away. Like other skills such as reading and learning a language, it takes patience, practice, and time to be able to jump straight into writing the minute that you open your journal. Below are seven valuable tips for you to begin your journaling adventure.

1) Discover the time of day and technique that works best for you.

What do we mean when we say techniques? In journaling terms, we mean the form of writing that works best for you. For example, do you like sitting there and writing things down in a long sentences? Or someone who wants to make bullet points on what is on their mind? These are just two of the various journaling techniques there are out there. This is something that you will have to discover for yourself and is something that you will learn more about yourself as you get further into your journaling journey.

Another thing to keep in mind is determining what time of day works best for you. Do you like to wake up first thing in the morning and write? Someone who writes better at the end of the day? Or someone who wants to journal as thoughts come to them? This is another thing that you will have to determine as you begin writing.

2) Let your writing flow.

Isn’t that what writing is, you may be asking? In a sense, yes, but when we say to let your writing flow, we mean that you should write down whatever you want in your journal without worrying about what others say or think. One of the many beautiful things about journaling is that it tends to be for ourselves and is meant to be a way to one hundred percent be yourself. The only way that others should be able to see what you have said is if you decide that you want to share what you have written with them. A journal is meant for your eyes only, so you should feel like you can be as free and open as you want within it.

3) Be realistic with how fast your journal will be filled up.

This is something that some people don’t take into consideration when they first begin writing in a journal. For some, when starting a journal, go in with the thought process of writing in it all the time or that they will always have something to say. As great as this may sound, this, unfortunately, isn’t always the case. And if this happens to you, don’t get discouraged. It is OK not always to have something to write about or anything that you necessarily want to say. Just take things as they come and try to enjoy the process. It is not a race to fill your journal as fast as possible.

4) Create a “routine” for writing in your journal.

You may be thinking, ‘great, another task I need to add to my busy schedule.’ If this is crossing your mind, take a minute to step back and relax. Routine is a word that can be used very loosely regarding journaling. When we say routine, we don’t mean it is something that needs to be done every day at a particular time. What we mean when we say “routine” is just having a general time you decide to write in your journal. Do you choose to write in the morning or at night? Do you write in it every day? Every other day? Or write in it only once a week? These are the questions you should ask yourself when creating a writing “routine” for yourself.

5) Feel free to write about ANYTHING, and we mean ANYTHING

It can be intimidating at times to sit down in front of an empty journal or an empty journal page and not know what to write. If this happens to you, fear no more. When you sit down to journal, there are no limits to your writing. You can write about a dream you have recently had, a memory that you recently made, or even just random thoughts that come to mind.  The possibilities of what you write are endless. It comes down to just sitting down and getting your ideas onto paper.

6) Don’t be afraid to use journal prompts.

Do you want to write but have no clue what to write about? This is when journal prompts can come into play. The great thing about journal prompts is that they don’t tell you precisely what to write but help you get your ideas flowing. 

7) Be creative!

Creativity is vital in journaling. Allow yourself to have fun with different utensils and colors. Switch it up!

Ways to fill up your journal

You started one; now what?

Journals can be used so many ways that we sometimes forget about them. Image courtesy of Jenni Black Custom Journals.

Now that you have learned what you need to start a journal and some tips on how to begin, let's jump into some different ways you can fill them. When asked what journaling is or what it is used for, most people would say that it is when they sit down and write about their feelings and what’s going on in their lives, just as you would with a diary. Although this may be true for some people and how they tend to fill their journals, there are so many more ways that you can use one, such as:

  • Making lists: you could use them to list things you want to do, your dreams, etc.
  • Copy quotes: You can copy your favorite quotes from books or movies. Then, write what they mean to you or even how you interpret them.
  • Make a collage: If you do this, you can use random pictures and clippings from magazines, posters, and newspapers.
  • Brainstorm: You can use it to brainstorm different activities that you may want to do or other things you may want to write about.
  • Write a word and use that for inspiration: You can fill a page with the word or use the term for an idea of what to draw or what you might want to create.
  • Use a piece you find in nature, tape a flower down or some grass. Use characters to decorate and fill up a page.
  • Create a bucket list of things you like to do.
  • Just sit down and word vomit. You don’t have to have a particular idea or topic; you just have to sit down and begin writing.

Journaling is both therapeutic and a great skill to have. Leave in the comments if you enjoy journaling and some of your favorite things to add in one!

Aug 15, 2022