If you’re reading this, you probably know that journaling is a powerful self-discovery tool. That said, cultivating the habit of journaling can be quite challenging, especially if you’re new to it.
Don’t worry if you struggle to journal every day because I’ve got you covered. In this guide, I’ll share some journaling ideas for beginners to help remove any confusion about the practice. This way, writing down your thoughts and feelings becomes a lot easier.
Let’s get started.
1. Write When It Is Most Convenient for You
The first step to making journaling stick is finding the most convenient time to write. The usual advice is to write first thing in the morning, and that’s great, except it doesn’t work for everyone.
For some, the early morning hours provide the perfect opportunity to plan their day and set out on the right footing. For others, trying to piece their thoughts together in the morning is a real chore.
Again, others find that their thoughts flow better when they journal in the evening or before hitting the sack.
Writing at the end of each day allows them to reflect on what went down during the day, what to do differently next time, and how to plan the next day. Still, others may be too tired to write in the evenings.
The bottom line? Find a time that works best for you.
You may have to write at different times of the day to figure out your most convenient time for journaling. It also helps if you clarify what you’re looking to get out of journaling.
2. Keep a Paper Journal or Use a Digital Device
When it’s time to journal, I love reaching for my positivity journal and penning down my thoughts.
The process of writing by hand slows my thoughts down, allowing me to think more thoroughly and be deliberate about the things I write.
Here’s the thing, though.
You don’t have to write in a physical notebook. Keeping a paper journal is purely a matter of preference.
Indeed, studies show that writing by hand can help you dig deep and process your emotions. But there’s no rule that says you can’t keep a digital journal.
If your thoughts flow better when typing, by all means, use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to record your thoughts and feelings.
Some people find typing more suitable when they use the stream of conspicuousness style of journaling. And if you’re particularly fast on the keyboard, typing might be more convenient for you.
Whether you keep a paper journal or use a digital device, the key is to become aware of how you feel during writing. In fact, it is okay to use both types of journals, provided they suit your purpose.
3. You Don’t Need to Write Everything
This is one of the most important journaling ideas for beginners: only write what you want.
Journaling will start to feel like a chore if you try to write a minute-by-minute account of everything going on in your life.
And you’re more likely to abandon the practice sooner or later.
To make the habit stick, make your journal a place to record thoughts, feelings, and ideas you really want to process.
Think of your journal as a tool that helps you grow; only put things that are necessary for your personal growth in there. The rest of your life’s details don’t need to go in there.
In other words, make your journal a happy place where you’ll love to visit and spend some time. Use it to nurture growth and personal development.
4. Write as if You’re Talking to Someone
It can feel a bit awkward journaling the first few times if it feels like you’re writing or talking to your present self.
Writing as if you’re addressing someone else is one way to make your journaling practice more exciting as a beginner.
Think of it this way. We usually have many things to say to others when they ask for advice, but we hardly know what to tell ourselves when we are in the same spot.
If you struggle to maintain a journaling habit or come up with journal ideas, think of yourself as someone else when you put your pen to that blank page. Think of yourself as:
- Someone younger or naïve
- Someone you’ll like to help
- Someone you look up to or admire
- Someone who hurt you
5. Write How You Want and About What You Want
Journaling is all about expressing yourself how you deem fit. It is your journaling journey. While you should avoid turning your journal into a collection of dark, negative thoughts, there is no hard and fast rule about what and how you should write.
It is entirely up to you to use a structured format or write more freely. You can choose any writing style that works for you, and don’t limit yourself to only one.
Here’s a quick rundown of the common journaling methods. Feel free to use one or a combination of several options to express yourself:
- Gratitude journal: This method allows you to write about what you’re grateful for. It helps you focus on the blessings in your life, foster appreciation, and cultivate a positive mindset.
- Reflection journal: Use this as a tool for introspection and self-reflection. It allows you to explore your thoughts, emotions, and experiences so you become more self-aware.
- Stream of consciousness writing: This style of writing is free and spontaneous without editing or censoring whatever comes to your mind. Use this when you want to flow uninterrupted.
- Brain dump: This is a powerful method for emptying your thoughts and feeling, allowing you to gain clarity or reduce a feeling of overwhelm.
- Goals journal: Use this journaling method when you want to set and track your goals or create action plans.
- Mindful writing: This method helps you practice present-moment awareness while writing. It helps you focus on sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise during the journaling.
- Creative writing journal: This technique promotes creativity by allowing you to explore your imagination using storytelling, journaling prompts, and other writing exercises.
6. Use Journaling Prompts
Getting stuck or running out of what to write is one common reason people don’t write regularly.
If you’ve experienced writer’s block a few times, chances are, your motivation to write is dwindling, and if it keeps reoccurring, you’ll likely give up journaling entirely.
How to overcome writer’s block or other forms of mental block? Get a handful of journaling prompts handy.
If you’re just starting out, these prompts are helpful because they steer your mind in the right direction, inspiring your writing.
Different prompts work for different situations, so find as many journal prompts as you can and then figure out which ones work well for you.
Here is a list of 27 journal prompts you might want to have handy in the event you get stuck and need some inspiration.
7. Draw Inspiration From Quotes
Another effective way to get your mental juices flowing when you get stuck is to find inspiration from other people’s words.
That’s where inspirational quotes come in handy.
Whenever you feel uninspired, look for quotes that speak to you and write down what you think about them in your personal journal.
Here are a few questions to help you draw inspiration from other people’s words:
- What am I hearing as I read this quote? How does it resonate with my experiences?
- Does this quote relate to a current situation I’m facing?
- How does reading this quote make me feel?
- What lessons or insights can I draw from this quote? Is there something in the message that I can apply to my daily life?
By exploring your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the quote, you stimulate your mind and write more naturally without trying too hard.
8. Let Go of Expectations
Although this is coming last, it is one of the most important things to keep in mind if you’re just starting out.
Don’t feel you’re getting it wrong if your writing doesn’t come across as something from deep within your soul.
It is okay if your writing doesn’t feel insightful or inspirational. Avoid setting exceptionally high standards for yourself when journaling.
Remember, you’re not looking to publish a book. Your journal is mostly for you unless you feel like sharing some of the content with close friends and family.
Simply focus on the process of writing, and worry less about piecing together a masterfully crafted emotional passage.
It is okay to write down your jumbled thoughts. In fact, it is perfectly fine to start an art journal where you can use doodles or sketches and a few words to express how you feel.
Don’t worry if your writing doesn’t read like what you see online or elsewhere. You don’t necessarily have to be a great writer to reap the benefits of journaling.
With these journaling ideas for beginners, you are ready to make the practice a habit. Just remember to write every day.