How to start journaling (and make it a habit)

Also Read

How to start journaling (and make it a habit)


Starting a journal can seem intimidating at first. Like any other habit, it takes a while before it becomes a repetitive part of your lifestyle.

Here are some journaling tips to help you start and keep a journal.

1. Find the journaling techniques that work for you

Many people prefer keeping a paper journal because it helps them develop and express ideas more clearly. But putting pen to paper isn’t the only way to journal.

When you first begin writing, it’s important to find the method that works best for you.

You may find that the ease of using a laptop makes journaling more enjoyable for you. You also don’t have to limit yourself to one method.

Say you prefer handwriting, but you get a burst of inspiration during your morning commute on the subway. In that case, you can use the notes app on your phone to jot down your thoughts before you forget them.

2. Let go of judgments (write for your eyes only)

There’s no right or wrong way to journal. When you’re writing, it’s important to practice self-compassion and leave your inner critic at the door. Journaling is a judgment-free zone.

Don’t worry about things like grammar or spelling. You’re writing for your eyes only, not for an audience.

When you’re self-critical or afraid someone will read your journal, you tend to censor yourself and be less authentic and honest.

3. Keep expectations realistic

When you first begin journaling, don’t expect to write pages upon pages filled with insightful thoughts.

Having unrealistic expectations can actually discourage you from continuing your journaling practice because you don’t immediately see progress.

Like any other habit, you need to set realistic goals and take baby steps in order to see results.

4. Create a writing routine

It’s easy to write on days when you’re feeling inspired and motivated. But what about when you’re not?

Creating a writing routine and scheduling journaling time can help you stay on track, even on days when you’re feeling uninspired.

For example, you can set time aside every morning after breakfast or every evening before bed, even if it’s just for five to ten minutes. This time blocking method allows you to prioritize journaling and incorporate it into your schedule.

5. Journal about anything that comes to mind

When it comes to what you want to write about, the possibilities are limitless. You can write about your day, your thoughts and emotions, or something that inspired you.

You can also use it as an outlet to release heavy emotions like anger, frustration, or sadness. Putting these feelings down on paper can free you from having them lingering in your mind.

In her book “The Artist’s Way,” author Julia Cameron talks about one method that can help you journal if you’re not sure where to start. It’s called the ‘Morning Pages.’

Each day after you wake up, open your journal and start writing three pages filled with any thoughts that come to your mind.

This stream-of-consciousness writing has been therapeutic for those who have tried it. It's helped them process emotions, gain clarity, and unlock their creative side.

6. Use journal prompts

There will be days when you’re staring at your journal and have no idea what to write about.

Don’t fret — there are countless journaling prompts online that can help you overcome your writer’s block. Here’s a list of things to journal about on the days you feel blocked:

  • A list of things and people you're grateful for
  • A recent situation that challenged you
  • An (unsent) letter to someone in your life
  • Small things that bring you joy throughout the day
  • The best decision you’ve ever made 
  • Daily positive affirmations

7. Get creative

Don’t be afraid to express yourself and be creative. Journal writing isn’t just prose. It can be poetry, sketching, art, lyrics, or anything else that allows you to express yourself.  

How to keep the habit

Learning how to start journaling is the easy part. It’s making it a daily habit that takes self-discipline.

But nobody said building good habits happens overnight.

If you stick to it, you’ll start to see the positive outcomes of journaling manifest in your personal and professional life. Use it as a tool for personal growth, self-discovery, relaxation, or visualization. There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Make it your own.

Previous Post Next Post