Person writing in a journal

How to Start a Journal: A Life-changing Beginner’s Guide

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Are you clueless about how to start a journal? Seems so easy, right? You don’t even have to splurge on a fancy journal. Any notebook will do.

This post is a beginner’s guide on how to enrich your life by journaling.

Should you start a journal

Jennifer Anniston, Lady Gaga and Emma Watson all journal daily and swear that it is their most trusted confidante and the best way to deal with the stress of being in the  public eye constantly.

But maybe you’re like me. You’ve bought gorgeous journals but you’re still stuck at the starting block.

I have the perfect  Mini Journal for you to ‘test drive ‘ journaling. Just 5 days to know if journaling is for you or not. Click the graphic below to get it.


Mini journal


So, first, let’s look at a case study to convince you that journaling is a great way to improve your life one day at a time.

Inspiration to Start Journaling

There’s something about putting pen to paper that helps you work through difficulties in life. Let me show you what I mean:
My mom died tragically 10 years ago. But it was only when I started blogging and wrote about it, that I felt a gigantic stone shift in my soul. You can read it here. This was not even a regular diary entry.

Check out this YouTube video entitled How Journaling Changed my Life



The Benefits of Journaling

To counteract your doubts about starting a journal, here are the best views on why you should start today:

This article shows the powerful benefits to your mental health:

Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health. in this article states that writing in a journal:

removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.

Here’s a simple summary of what happens when you journal daily. Journaling:

Are you ready to take the leap into journaling now?

This post contains affiliate links which means that I may earn a commission if you use them. I only recommend tools that I use and trust. You can read the full disclosure policy here.


How to start a journal

The simplest way and the one that makes the most sense is to start with an introduction to yourself.

What would you do if you met someone for the first time at a party? How would you engage and interact with them?

For example: Hi I’m Allison. I live next door to Jane and Tom. Sounds easy, right?

Do the same with your first journal entry. Introduce yourself to what will soon become your most trusted BFF, a safe and sacred place to write from the heart about your life.

Remember, a journal is powerful because it has no voice to censure your thoughts, feelings and actions. It just quietly accepts you as you are warts and all. 

Surely, you’re now tempted to crack open that pretty journal you’ve just bought and start writing?

Mini journal Pinterest Pin

Tips to make  journaling a habit

Think of your journaling session as a one on one therapy session with yourself. It is your private space to let loose all the feelings you often keep reined in with no judgement at all.

Below are the steps to follow to start a successful journaling practice.

1. Find your WHY

To be successful with journaling, you need to know why you feel the need to journal.

Try to answer these questions truthfully to get to your WHY:

• Why do I want to start a journal?
• What do I intend to achieve by starting a journal?

A few answers to your WHY could be to:

•  Destress
•  Reflect on daily events
•  Plan ways to realize goals
•  Deal with a painful event

Once you’ve clarified your WHY, you’re all set to start journaling.

2. Journal supplies


Start a journal habit by writing in it everyday
Now comes the fun part. You need to get a few journaling supplies to get started.

While a simple notebook will be ok, you should get a beautiful journal that inspires you to write.

These gorgeous journals are my favorites to start journaling.

The 6-Minute Diary

This is the perfect beginner journal. You can kickstart journaling in just 6 minutes a day. Better still, this is a guided journal so you will not be overwhelmed.

A Simple Tool for more Success & Mindfulness

  • More than 400.000 users
  • More than 2.500 verified 5-Star reviews on Amazon in Europe
  • Translated into 15 languages

LEATHER JOURNAL Writing Notebook

This beautiful journal that you have to unwrap to write in. It invites you to pour your heart out onto its pages.

Vintage in appearance and ethically sourced, a portion of the proceeds is donated to a non-profit organization in Zambia.


Hallmark Softcover Journal (Watercolor Roses)

This pretty journal is also great for the newbie. It tempts you to pick up your pen and write at once.


3. Personalize your journal


Motivational quotes in a journal with coloured pens on a desk
                                                 Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

Here are a few awesome products to stamp your personality on your journal.

Get creative – pretty the journal up with quotes, stickers, photos and coloured tape. Use Coloured Pens Fine Point Markers Fine Tip to write every day in your journal.

Use these Stickers, Stencils, Washi Tapes and Sticky Notes to make your journal unique to you.

4. Format of a journal entry

Write the date at the top.  I like to also add a motivational quote and my word for the year with every entry.

You could also write your affirmations and your gratitude list in your daily journal.

But,  if you’re still not quite sold on journaling yet,  here are a few items you could use your journal to work on:

  • affirmations
  • daily goals
  • track progress on new habits
  • plan your next family vacation

As you record the goings-on in your life, you will involuntarily start to spend more time writing in your journal.

Your entries will become longer, more reflective and contemplative.

So, set aside any reservations you have about how to start a journal, You have everything to gain and nothing at all to lose.

5. Journaling Prompts


Woman surrounded by question marks
                                Image by Sophie Janotta from Pixabay

If you’re brand new to journaling, the easiest way to get started is to use journal prompts.

Journal prompts are a list of questions to get you to do some deep thinking about your life and your goals.

I have 5 journal prompts to help you to start writing:

•  The words I’d like to live by are…
•  I couldn’t imagine living without …..
•  The two moments I’ll never forget in my life are…
•  I’m happiest when …….
•  Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?
•  Who would you most like to make peace with and why?

With each prompt, flesh out your answer well. See below an example of how to use ‘ WHY ‘ to do this.

You can find other more in-depth prompts here. 

If the prompts don’t appeal to you, just write about your day. Write about what you did, where you went, who you met and so on. But after each point, ask yourself why.


Inspiration to start a journal
Here’s a recent entry from my journal:

I shopped intentionally today. I bought sticky notes in 3 bright colors.

Why? To create a content calendar for my blog
Why? To organize my content for quarter 4.
Why? So my blog posting schedule stays consistent.
Why? To be on track with my blogging goals.
Why? To be able to replace my last salary
Why? To be free of debt and to be financially stable

Can you see how you can relate a simple routine activity and then using ‘why’ reflect and analyze to improve your life?

Over time, you will naturally slip into a reflective mood when you start to journal.

The result will be a calmer, more tolerant and compassionate you.

I have the perfect  Mini Journal for you to try journaling without having to fork out any cash.  Just 5 days to find out if journaling is for you or not. Click the graphic below to get it.


Mini journal

6. Tips for journaling success

Having the right mindset is the best way to ensure a successful practice.

6.1 Commitment

Include journaling in your morning ritual. Set a timer and free-write for a set time. Perhaps start with 10 minutes and then slowly increase the time. See this as a dedicated time to work on your personal growth.

6.2 Honesty

When journaling, always be honest. Invest in your self-development by tackling the topics that cause you pain and discomfort. Asking WHY will allow you to heal.

6.3 Fear

Deal with the fear of a loved one reading your journal by chatting to them about the personal self improvement journey that you’re on. Ask that they respect and support your decision.

6.4 Make it fun

Make journaling fun by writing about light hearted topics as well. Recall fun times out with your girlfriends.  Include movies you want to see and songs that you love.

Use it to flesh out your bucket list and actually track your plans to make them happen.

7. Digital vs paper journal?

It’s easier to be mindful about journaling in a traditional journal. In essence, writing in a journal is a kind of meditation. You invest time in selecting your words to convey your thoughts. The process is slower but invites reflection and analysis.

However,  a digital journal may be easier for you if you want to add photographs and other creative elements. You also avoid the storage issues that come with the paper journals as well. 

This post gives you a list of apps where you can journal online for free.


Start a journal and see how it changes your life
Your Turn

This quote sums up the power of journaling:

Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.
Mina Murray

Let’s recap.  Journaling:

  • has many mental health benefits 
  • is a powerful self-improvement tool
  • helps you make and track your goals
  • serves as a silent accountability partner
  • is a great daily self care habit

Do you keep a journal? How has it impacted your life? Share your story in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, please help to share it to your favorite social media platforms.

Other self-improvement posts you may like:

Please pin them to your personal development Pinterest board.


woman wearring headphones and a pink jacketwoman smiling and looking upwardsLong haired woman smiling with arms stretched out






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27 thoughts on “How to Start a Journal: A Life-changing Beginner’s Guide”

  1. I Have been meaning to start a journal for the longest time but never really knew where to start. Thanks for sharing these super helpful tips, I make this my mission to start a journal before the end of lockdown!

  2. This is just the “how-to” guide I was looking for as I seek to start a journaling practice in the New Year. I looked at a lot of content on journaling and yours was the best! Thanks for the pointers.

  3. Your post resonated with me “I felt a gigantic stone shift in my soul.” Journal is a drawing up of your own wisdom and getting it out on the page. I am also a great believer in sharing our stories so I’m going to head over to your linked story now. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people that journaled. I did start a bullet journal and I fell in love! You have some great ideas to help start a journal that I think will help me possibly be one of those journaling people!

  5. I love journaling. Now since I have had kids I don’t do as much journaling as I used to but I’ve found that blogging has given me an outlet in the same way. I totally agree that journaling can help so much with stress. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I started journaling approximately a year ago and have experienced many benefits from it. I agree with you that it can be healing! Like you, I journaled what is likely my most powerful entry as my mom was dying. I love the idea of introducing yourself to your journal. That may be my next step since I haven’t done that!

    1. Journaling is catharsis in action when you’re going through stress and trauma. Today life is so fast paced that journaling gives you the time to slow down and take stock of your day. It’s a great idea to introduce kids to it as well.

  7. Hi, I’m Jade and I’m a journal addict. Lol

    Seriously though, I’ve bought so many journals over the year with the best of intentions and never get to the end. I always give up within days of starting.

    At least, until this year when I tried bullet journaling. Now, I’m almost to the end and am excited.

    Thanks for sharing this. I wish I’d come across this info years ago. ❤

  8. I agree with you, journaling is so important in self care. I think especially as women we really need to process our thoughts and emotions and a journal is a wonderful safe, non judgmental space to do so. I have done many kinds of journaling over the years. Currently I am really loving digital journaling (using because I can type so much faster than I can write. And I can copy and paste into my blog if I decide to use those thoughts in a blog post.

    1. I suggested print journals for the beginner so they can get into the practice of journaling. Thank you for the suggestion of Penzu. Great idea about journaling about blog content so you can use it to write a post.

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