How to Journal for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide [2022]

Journaling is an incredible outlet for creativity, self-reflection, and personal growth. It is so much more than just writing down your feelings. In this article, we’ll go over some of the benefits of keeping a journal and the best practices for beginner journalers.

So, if you’re looking for ways to improve your health and happiness, start writing (after you read my article, that is!).

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link. Read my disclaimer.

Journaling: what is it and why should you do it?

Journaling is the act of writing down your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. It’s great for creating awareness, improving communication skills, and expressing yourself among other things.

To journal is to immerse, absorb and express yourself through your pen and paper.

Journaling is often thought of as a tool for self-expression or inner exploration, but it can be used for so much more. Journaling can be one of the best ways to start learning about yourself.

Writing things down forces you to give them some thought, to elaborate on and analyze them. Writing in a journal will help you be more mindful of your emotions, thoughts, life experiences, and so much more.

How journaling can improve your life

It’s easy to feel sad or angry about things in your life that seem beyond your control, but journaling can make these feelings seem less overwhelming, and they often become easier to manage.

Journaling helps with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and more. It’s a way of expressing yourself so that you don’t have to bottle things up inside.

Writing down the details of situations can help you remember important parts that are often forgotten or overlooked.

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Benefits of Journaling

There are some benefits to journaling that have been proven time and time again. Here are a few of them:

Helps you process stuff

It’s been shown that writing down your thoughts helps you get through hard times and through obstacles.

Helps you get to know yourself better

Writing in a journal is one of the best ways to get to know yourself better. As you write, you’re better able to observe your emotions and behaviors. You’ll be more aware of what triggers certain feelings and you might be able to pinpoint patterns that cause these feelings. Writing makes you more self-aware which will ultimately make you a happier person.

Helps you understand your thoughts, feelings and experiences

Journaling helps you understand your thoughts, feelings and experiences more easily.
You’ll be able to process your thoughts and feelings more easily if you write them down. By doing this, you’ll be able to notice patterns in your thoughts and feelings, which makes it easier to process them.

Eases anxiety

Writing in a journal can help ease anxiety by helping you better understand the source of your anxiety and how it affects you. You can practice describing your feelings.

Improves self-esteem and even body image

Writing down your thoughts and feelings about yourself can help you feel better about yourself and your body image. You’ll be able to see yourself in a more positive light.

Can help you to sleep better

Writing in a journal before bed has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and sleep for longer periods of time. It helps you reduce stress, get rid of negative thoughts, and relax before bed.

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Getting into a Writing Habit

The key to starting a journaling habit is consistency.

If you are looking for ways to improve your health, happiness and wellbeing, start writing every day. It is best to write down general things, then go back and edit those entries later if you wish to do so.

Write your thoughts so that you can reflect on what you’ve written later on. But don’t worry if you don’t finish an entry right away; that’s okay!

Journaling doesn’t need to be perfect to be effective. The important thing is to keep trying and stay consistent over time.

How to Start a Journal and Stick With It

There are a lot of different journals and apps out there that you can use to get started. It’s helpful to find a journal that you enjoy using and one that fits your needs.

When you first start writing in your journal, it can feel a little awkward, but it’s important to just keep trying. Eventually, you’ll develop a rhythm of writing every day.

Below, you’ll learn how to start a journal, what to write about, and how to finish off your entries when you’re done!

How to journal for beginners: tips and tricks

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Writing your first entries might initially feel daunting, but once you get the hang of it, you can start getting more creative and writing more than just a few sentences here and there.

Here are some do’s and don’ts:


Set aside a specific time to write especially if you’re a busy person. The most important thing to do is to make it a routine, or start writing in your journal every day. It’s easier to stick with something if it becomes part of your daily routine. You don’t want to skip days, because then it’ll feel like something you need to squeeze into your schedule, instead of something that gets done without thinking about it. Use a journal so that you can be creative and avoid feeling self-conscious if you don’t know what to write about. Jot down the things that have happened in your day or anything else that is important to look back on. You don’t need to be perfect in your entries, but you should give them some thought. Using a journal will help you make sure everything is organized and makes sense as well.


Don’t think you have to write every day or in detail. You can pick whatever works for you and journal in any way that you want as long as it helps you stay consistent. Don’t rush! If your thoughts are messy and disorganized, don’t worry about it. As long as you are being honest with yourself, that’s all that matters. Don’t worry about getting the best pen or a fancy journal, especially if this is your first journaling experience.

What to write about in your journal

There are no limitations to what you can write about. You can write about anything and everything that is important to you.

It can be good to start out writing about things that are most important, like your relationships with friends or family, what happened during the day, etc. Journaling is supposed to be a very personal experience and writing down your thoughts won’t feel so intimidating if you start out like this.

Beginning a journal – where to start?

To help you get started, here are some ideas for what to journal about and how to actually put pen (or keyboard) to paper or fingertips to keyboard.

  • Write down your future goals and dreams
  • Write about your day, the events that happened, and your feelings about the things that occurred.
  • Write about your thoughts and feelings from the past day, week, month, etc.
  • Make a bucket list of things you want to do in your life and describe your experiences doing them.
  • Write a letter to yourself about your future and explain how you can achieve your goals.

Here are some more ideas:

  • Write an entry dedicated to your moods and how they might affect your future.
  • Describe your ideal day.
  • Write a list of things you’d like to do in the future.
  • Write a letter to someone you love (a good place to start is thanking them for their friendship).
  • Write about how much you appreciate your friends and loved ones in your life.
  • Write about your feelings or feelings you want to share.
  • If you can’t think of anything, just write about something that’s on your mind but it isn’t related to anything specific (or if it is related, describe the feeling).
  • Write about your favorite memories.
  • Write about things that you did a long time ago.
  • Give yourself a goal or mission to accomplish.
  • Remember to have fun!
  • Write about random topics you are interested in
  • Write about the present moment.
  • Write about something that makes you laugh.
  • Write about your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them.
  • Write about the things other people have done for you.
  • Write about something that is happening in your life.

How to keep a journal – the best practices for beginner journalers

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Once you’ve started keeping a journal, it’s time to make sure you have the best set-up for writing consistently. Even if you’re a great writer, you can really benefit from a few solid practices to give your entries the extra punch they deserve.

Here are some surefire tips for keeping and finishing off a journal.

Best practices for being a proficient writer

There are some practices that you should do no matter how good or bad a writer you think you are.

  • Make sure you always have a pen or a keyboard at hand.
  • Set aside at least 30 minutes for journaling (or more if you want – it’s your journal so do whatever works for you).
  • Write down your thoughts as they come to you. Don’t worry about how big or small they are.
  • Be honest in your journal entries and if you’re feeling shy at first, remind yourself that it’s just for you – no one will see it but you.
  • Don’t edit your entries. Just let them flow.
  • Create a schedule.
  • Keep a journal every day, even if you only write a few sentences.
  • Try to write without editing (though if you find yourself needing to edit because you’re thinking of what to say next in your entry, just go ahead and do it).
  • Don’t stop writing because it’s over. You might think you’ll never finish your thoughts but you will, so keep going and continue your journaling even if it’s not in the same place.
  • Keep your entries private – don’t let anyone read them but you.
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative and get creative with the ways you write your entries.
  • Don’t stress about writing perfectly.

Type of Journals

There are tons of different types of journals out there. Here are a few common options that people select to use.


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The most traditional type of journal. Entry format: right to left. Pages regularly spaced throughout the book. You fill each page with whatever you want, but you don’t have any margins or line spacing so it’s really up to you how much space you want for entry on each page (or how many pages).

Manifestation Journal

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Manifestation journals are all about manifesting your goals. You write down affirmations and support for what you want to achieve then, based on the law of attraction, it’s supposed to manifest itself. Make sure to choose the best manifestation journal for your needs.

Gratitude Journal

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A gratitude journal is dedicated to all the good things in your life. You write down everything you’re grateful for, everything that makes you happy and anything that makes you feel positive about your life.

This kind of journal is supposed to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude and happiness. While it might not work for everyone, it can be a really nice way to stay focused on what’s good in your life and let go of the things that are negative.

Here are my top picks for best gratitude journal.

Personal Journal

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Same as a diary but designed to help your personal growth and make you more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Travel Journal

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A travel journal is made to document your trip and make it more memorable. It may be a set of sketches or photos, or it may simply be a list of info about what you experienced while on your trip.

As long as you are really committed to making it different from a diary, you can literally make anything work as your travel journal and embellish it however you want.

Note: some people also use journals for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, etc.

Planning Journal

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A planning journal is used specifically for planning out your future, which means it’s all about goals.

This journal is meant to help you get organized, stay focused and make the right decisions in order to achieve the things you want.

If you have a lot of plans and goals, then a planning journal might be your best bet. You can have multiple ones that are dedicated to different aspects of your life, so whether there’s an area you’re working on or not, chances are there’s one that fits what you need.

Bucket List Journal

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A bucket list journal is meant for goals that you have yet to achieve. It’s more of a fantasy than something to reach for in the near future, but rather something you’d like to do sometime in the future.

It could be a wish or a dream, or it could be just something cool and fun that you need to set aside on your bucket list.

Pregnancy Journal

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A pregnancy journal is obviously for keeping track of the steps you take in your child’s development but it is also meant to help you grow and learn something about yourself through the pregnancy.

It can be a lot of things, depending on your needs and how involved you want to be during the pregnancy.

Motherhood Journal

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This journal is meant to be a mother’s last personal record. It’s something you’d give to your children after you pass away so they can learn more about their parents, what they did and how they lived.

It can be a lot of different things but it is supposed to help with closure and be something that you fill in as your child grows up so they can see how far they’ve come and where their starting point was.

Art Journaling

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This is one of the most creative forms of journaling. It’s all about what you can come up with or draw, paint, write and create on paper. If you’re an artist and you feel like journaling is something that interests you, this might be something for you.

This could be a special section in your diary if your daily entries aren’t particularly artistic, but it could also be a full-blown art journal that is for art only.


There are many different types of journals out there but these are the most popular. If you can’t find something that fits your needs, experiment with a few different types and see what works best for you.

Journaling Methods & Techniques

There are many ways of taking notes and producing a diary. Here are a few methods that are commonly used and how you can use them to do some more specific things with your journal.

How to Bullet Journal

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Bullet Journaling is a popular one mainly because it’s very adaptable to different types of information. It’s meant to be a clean and simple way of keeping track of important information and lists.

You can have a variety of different styles with the way you set up your pages. They are fun and can bring out the artist in you.

It is important to pick out the right supplies for setting up your bullet journal. Get started by selecting the best pens for bullet journal and then go from there.

How to Journal Daily

Daily journaling is a very fast way to record information as it happens. What you write down each day may make a lot of sense later on, or you might want to refer back to it at some point.

It’s usually pretty simple and there’s not much else in terms of organizing the information that you write in your daily journal. You’ll just be adding whatever thoughts, feelings and experiences are going through your mind or happening to you that day.

Journaling Prompts

This is something that I have used in the past. It’s more focused on specific prompts, but it can help with keeping you focused on what you need to focus on.

The prompts might include things like:

Write a few things you’re grateful for. Take 10 minutes to listen to some music, read something or just relax.

Write down your top 5 future goals for the day or week from 5-1 (or however long you want to make it).

Writing Challenge

This is just a fun way to write. It can be used for any reason and it’s an easy way to make your writing more interesting or have something to think about as you write.

You could do something like a writing challenge that includes prompts such as:

Describe your favorite memory in 5 words. Write about what you will accomplish today in 2 sentences. Name one thing you need to work on today and describe it in 4 sentences.

Getting Into the Habit of Journaling

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The hardest part about journaling is getting into the habit of doing it. The learning process takes time and a lot of trial and error (meaning you might realize that writing in the morning is not your thing, but in the evening you might feel there’s more space for your journaling practices).

But, if you’re dedicated to making it your own thing and putting something in your journal that will help you stay focused, you can do it!

It might take a while to get in the habit of journaling regularly, but once it becomes a habit you’ll be able to record everything that is going on with your life. Keep in mind that you don’t have to become a habitual journaler to get something positive out of it.

Being More Effective, Focused and Mindful with Your Writing

In order to be effective and make your journal more effective, you’ll want to get into the habit of recording your thoughts and experiences as they happen. If you’re someone who likes writing out everything that happens in your day, then that might not be the best method.

Instead, think about how you want to better yourself by writing down your thoughts and feelings each day. You can either include specific things that you want to happen or just write about what is going on in general.

How to journal for maximum personal growth

Get comfortable with yourself. If you don’t like the way you write or feel when you write, then make adjustments until you are more comfortable with it.

You might need to practice more, change your writing style, or find a new journal but if something isn’t working for you, don’t feel like you have to keep doing it that way. Eventually, something will click and you will figure out what works best for your needs and personality.

Record anything that is going on in your day that needs to be noted down.

How to journal for better mental health

Journaling can help you become more mindful and get in touch with what’s going on in your life. It can help keep you from falling into old habits that might be harmful to your mental health.

It also gives you a chance to express things about yourself and work on your character development. You’re also more likely to be more comfortable expressing yourself if you have an outlet that doesn’t feel foreign or awkward.

How to journal for more creativity

Keeping a diary can help spark new ideas and get your creative juices flowing. It’s also a way to write things down so you don’t forget them when you need to follow up on them.

You might not want to use journals for this purpose, but you might be able to find another way of recording and writing your ideas, such as in a journal or through blogging. It could work as a writing challenge for example, or for getting some new ideas for paintings or sculptures that you want to finish.

How to Journal for more productivity

Journaling can help you become more productive. If you want to get things done and be more organized, then journaling could be a good thing for you.

Having a place to write specific things down that are important to you will help organize your thoughts and keep them focused on what’s really important in your life. It also helps you make sure that certain things don’t get forgotten when they need to be done.

How To Journal: The Top 6 Tips

  1. Let it be natural and organic
    Don’t force yourself to journal on a regular basis. Journaling is supposed to become part of your life, so don’t feel like you have to force it.
  2. Pick a place where you won’t be disturbed
    If you like working in peace and quiet, you should pick a place where there won’t be any interruptions. Go to the library or find a spot at home where you will be able to work undisturbed.
  3. Find a pen or a pencil you really like
    Journaling with a regular pen and paper is okay, but if you want something more professional, get a good quality fountain pen and quality paper.
  4. Set up a private place for journaling
    If you choose to journal in a public location, be aware of your surroundings. Make sure people won’t be able to walk in on you as you work.
  5. Use a journaling prompt
    If you are having trouble getting started, use one of the prompts from this article to jump-start your thoughts and get you going.
  6. Journal about your goals
    When you set a goal, you want to make sure the goal will motivate you. Take the time to think about how your journaling can help you achieve this goal.


Journaling is kind of like painting or sculpting. It is part of self-care and it helps with anxiety, stress, mental health and just staying on top of personal development (here are some more self-care ideas for you to get started on the self-care journey).

Journaling is in itself a beautiful thing and there are no mistakes. There is no need to stress about getting it perfect because the ultimate goal is to express yourself, improve your skills and get better at expressing yourself with each passing day.

You might have a hard time figuring out what you want to journal about, but as long as you have something you really care about and want to record, then that’s all it takes to succeed.

If you’re simply looking for something that will keep you motivated and help you reach your goals, then journaling might be the best way for you. It’s personal and can be used as a focus tool or an outlet for your creativity, but it’s really up to you how much of it is personal and how much is a creative outlet.



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