Whether you’re a teacher preparing to introduce journaling in your classroom or an adult looking to try the practice on your own, there are a few things you should know before getting started. With that in mind, we’ve created this very special how to journaling guide for beginners just for you!
Journaling is a fantastic way to process your thoughts and feelings. When you need to get something off your chest or express your emotions, a journal serves as a safe space where you can unload everything without fear of judgment or repercussions.
Of course, as you begin learning how to journal, you’ll also quickly find that writing is a wonderful creative outlet that inspires new ideas and facilitates learning. There are also all sorts of benefits beginners can enjoy through journaling—and in this guide, we’ll explore them all, as well as many tips and ideas to make journaling fun!
Let’s get started with a few things every new writer should do as they begin journaling!
Getting Started: A How To Journaling Guide for Beginners
Ready to start your first journal? Here are the first few things you should do before introducing this practice into your daily routine—as well as some important tips to keep in mind.
1. Choose Your Journal
First up on your list: you need a journal! Before you can begin writing, you’ll need to select a journal that appeals to you and that makes you want to sit down and write.
Journals come in all sorts of sizes and designs, so think about your needs before making your selection. Your journal doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, but it should be something that suits your personal style.
For kids, we recommend journals that are colorful or that feature a beloved character or design. For anyone who is interested in a creative approach to journaling, we recommend choosing a book with blank pages (instead of lined pages) so that you’ll have room to draw, add pictures, or to vary the size of your words. And of course, it can also be fun to choose a plain journal and then decorate it yourself!
2. Set Aside Time for Writing
One of the best ways beginners can learn how to journal is to set aside dedicated writing time each day. Choose a 15-30 minute time slot that fits into your schedule and bookmark it to be just for writing.
Try your best to stick to this schedule whether you feel like writing or not. Even if you think you don’t have anything to write about, sit down and write whatever comes to mind anyway! You can write about what you did that day, about what the weather is like outside, or even about how you don’t know what to write. The goal here is simply to build a habit and to get accustomed to the practice of journaling each day.
3. A Journal Entry Can Be Any Length
There are no rules to journaling, so it’s important not to feel like you have to write a certain amount for your work to “count” as a journal entry. Truly, any amount of words you write can serve as successful journaling. The point of a daily journaling time isn’t so that you can eventually end up with a full novel—it’s simply about creating a routine and getting yourself comfortable with the practice of writing.
Whether you write a few sentences, a simple poem, or even just one word in large letters across the page, you have journaled! And when you maintain this practice regularly, you’ll quickly find that it becomes easier and easier each day to come up with something to say.
4. Your Journal is a Safe Space
Though we love shared journaling projects, your journal can be for your eyes only if you so choose. Above all else, a journal should be a safe space where the writer can confide anything and express every thought without worrying about what others might think. Try looking at your journal as a close friend—a friend who will always give you all the time you need to speak and who will listen to what you have to say without any judgment whatsoever.
Sometimes we all feel like there’s no one who understands the way we feel or the things we are going through. However, your journal can simply reflect your own thoughts and emotions back to you and give you a safe place to explore what’s in your mind and to work out your most difficult feelings.
Many times, you’ll come to new insights and understandings as you write and process the things going on in your life—which makes your journal a valuable tool that works to serve your mental health.
Fun Tips and How To Journal Guide Ideas for Beginning Writers
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of journaling, let’s move on to a few fun and inspiring ideas that will help beginners learn exactly how to journal!
1. Use Writing Prompts
No matter how experienced a writer is, sometimes we can all use a little inspiration to get going. That’s why we love using writing prompts as a creative way to find new ideas for your journal.
There are tons of journal prompts available online (many of them right here on JournalBuddies.com!), so we recommend starting out by searching for some that are targeted directly toward your particular age range or that are on a topic you’re interested in. Perhaps you’ll enjoy story starting writing prompts or journal prompts that ask you to reflect on gratitude. There is truly no limit to the number of topics you can write about!
And of course, if you’re just getting started, be sure to check out our special how to journal for beginners writing prompts at the end of this article!
2. Get Out in the World
Our next tip for finding inspiration for your journal might be a little surprising… we think you should step away from the page and head outside!
Having new experiences and seeing new things is one of the best ways to get fresh writing material. Try taking a walk, visiting the zoo, spending the day with a friend, cooking a new recipe, or visiting a local attraction in your city—and then head home and write about what you did.
3. Be Creative with Your Journal
Journals aren’t just for words—they’re a great place to let your creativity run wild in general, too!
Whether you’re feeling a bit of writer’s block or simply looking to try something different, consider adding some art and color to your journal. Draw on a blank page, make a collage of photos or magazine clippings, add stickers or stamps, or paint a picture. You could even try illustrating one of your previous entries!
There are no right or wrong ways to journal—the key is simply to express yourself.
4. Try a Themed Journal
Themed journals can also be a fun way for beginners to learn how to journal, as having a central theme to focus on can make it easier to find something to journal about each day.
You can of course journal about anything you like, but some popular journal themes include: dream journals, art journals, career goal journals, summer journals, friendship journals, family history journals, and hobby journals. Themed journals are also a great way to incorporate aspects of creative journaling into your work because you can easily find photos and mementoes to add in alongside your writing!
5. Practice Different Types of Writing
Similar to a themed journal, you can also use your journal to stretch your creative muscles and gain experience with different types of writing.
There are so many unique writing styles that you can experiment with in your journal. Imagine writing a journal with:
- a daily poem
- a series of short stories
- scenes from a larger story (that could eventually become a longer work)
- song lyrics or verses
- reviews of your favorite books, movies, and TV shows
- letters to people in your life
- letters to historical figures or celebrities who have influenced you
- persuasive arguments or speeches
- memoirs or personal essays about your own life
The possibilities for journaling are truly limitless—and each of these unique forms of writing offers a wealth of potential journal entries!
How To Journaling Guide for Beginners: Five Top Benefits of Journaling
Once you’ve gotten yourself into the habit of regular journaling, you’ll quickly find yourself processing feelings and solving problems in new, healthy ways. Read on to learn about some of the key benefits that journaling offers to both beginners and experienced writers alike.
1. Learn What You Really Think
We all get flustered and confused sometimes, but your journal can help you make it through these moments and figure out what you really think.
When nothing seems to make sense, sometimes you just need to spend a few minutes writing about what’s going on and sorting through your thoughts. Often, as you write, a train of thought will emerge and you’ll begin to see things more clearly.
Journaling is also a great way to learn what you think about topics that you may not have previously considered. This path is especially fruitful when you use writing prompts that ask you to think about new topics or to revisit old memories. As you write, you’ll uncover new thoughts and you may be surprised by what ends up in front of you on the page!
2. Process Feelings and Reduce Stress in a Healthy Way
In addition to helping you uncover your truest thoughts, your journal is also a tool that can help you unpack your emotions and reduce stressors in your life in a healthy manner.
As we established earlier, your journal is a safe space where you can feel comfortable revealing your deepest thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to worry about anyone judging you or getting upset at you for what you write in your journal, because your words are for your eyes only.
If you’re upset at someone or hurt by something that happened to you, it can be very healthy to let all your negative emotions out into your journal. In this manner, your journal serves as both a place to release your pent-up feelings and also a way to sort through your thoughts. Over time, you’ll also find that your journal can be a helpful reference tool of sorts as you can go back and recall what you were feeling or thinking at a particular time in your life.
3. An Outlet for Problem-Solving
Similarly, your journal can also help you solve real-life problems when you use it as a brainstorming aid. Solutions will often arise naturally during the writing process, but you can also take time to seek out answers to your problems more intentionally.
When you’re faced with a tough situation, your journal is a great place to evaluate how you should handle it. You can try:
- making a pros and cons list
- drawing a mind map to see what creative options may exist
- brainstorming what might happen in various scenarios
- writing about your feelings and how others around you might feel
- creating and organizing a plan for what you will do next
Whether you set out to find an answer or stumble upon one along the way, journaling is an effective tool for handling life’s challenges.
4. Practice Writing and Communication Skills
Naturally, when you spend time journaling each day, you’ll start to become a better writer…and just because this benefit is expected, that doesn’t make it any less valuable!
They say that practice makes perfect, and that’s particularly true when it comes to writing. There’s no better way to improve your writing skills than to simply write as frequently as possible. As you journal more often, you’ll become more adept at crafting sentences, structuring an effective narrative, and utilizing varied vocabulary.
You’ll also notice that your improved writing skills will likely translate into better communication skills in your daily life. People who can communicate well on the page tend to have an easier time explaining their thoughts and sharing their feelings with others. That means that when you journal more frequently, you’ll also get better at articulating your ideas to others!
5. Boost Your Self-Confidence
Though there are many benefits to regular journaling, we believe one of the most important is the positive impact it can have on your self-esteem.
There are a few ways in which journaling can boost your confidence levels:
First, you’ll develop a greater awareness of what you think and who you are inside—and having a heightened sense of self-awareness can help to make you more cognizant of just how amazing you are.
Next, as you become better at expressing your thoughts and communicating what you think, you’ll feel more confident in sharing your ideas with others.
Finally, because journaling gives you an outlet for your most difficult emotions, you’ll feel freer and less burdened in your daily life—which can translate to a lighter step, a clearer mind, and a more positive outlook in general.
33 Inspiring How To Journal Prompts for Beginners
Okay—now that you’ve followed our how to journaling guide for beginners, we think you’re ready to start writing! Use these 33 inspiring how to journal prompts as you open up to a brand new blank page and unlock the many amazing benefits journaling has to offer.
- What is the best thing that happened to you today?
- Write about what your name means. Would you ever change it if you could?
- Make a list of seven things you are grateful for. Then, write about one of them in-depth each day for a week.
- What is your favorite way to care for yourself when you are stressed out or sad?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What do you think your daily life will be like?
- What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
- Write about a special family tradition you have and explain what it means to you and where it came from.
- Describe something kind you could do for someone else today and explain how you would make it happen.
- How do you feel right now, in this moment? What emotions do you recognize? What feelings seem unfamiliar to you or are difficult to name?
- What part of journaling appeals to you? What part do you struggle with?
- Which holiday best represents your personality? Why?
- Write about the most recent dream you remember having. Was it a realistic dream or a fantastical dream?
- What are you excited about right now?
- Write about a memory or particular moment in your life that you will never forget.
- What is something you would try if you knew it was impossible to fail?
- Write about a person in your life whom you have learned a lot from.
- Write about something that made you smile this week.
- What part of the future (such as a new technology, a new career, or a new phase of life) interests you the most? Why?
- Imagine that you are throwing a dinner party and you can choose 20 guests—alive or dead, friends, family, celebrities, or historical figures. Who would you choose? How would they all get along?
- Make a “reverse bucket list”—instead of listing all the exciting things you wish to do someday, list all of the amazing things you’ve already done!
- What is your favorite type of weather? Rain? Sun? Snow? Explain what you love about it and what kind of mood it puts you in.
- Write about something that stresses you out. Why do you think it makes you feel stressed? Are there any steps you could take to feel more relaxed about it?
- Write a short story with a dramatised version of your first day of school.
- Think of something bad that happened to you recently—and then try to find and write about a silver lining from the situation.
- Write about one thing you learned last week.
- List a color, a number, and your favorite food. Then, write a short story that uses each of these items in the plot.
- Write about something you need to accomplish today. Will it be easy to do or is it something you’ve been putting off? How will you get it done? Be specific.
- Write about something you’re looking forward to in the near future—a special treat waiting at home, a day off, a visit with a friend, etc. Describe why you are excited about it and imagine what the experience will be like.
- What is your favorite quality about yourself? Why do you value this quality? What are some other things you also like about yourself?
- Write about a new skill that you have always wanted to learn. Why does this new thing appeal to you? Do you think you’ll ever take the time to learn it?
- If you could give any one person any gift in the world, who would you give the gift to—and what would the gift be? Why?
- Write about something that you’re an expert on. Explain some of what you know and why you are interested in the topic!
- Write about a time when you exceeded your own expectations. What did you accomplish? How did you feel when you were done?
Still interested in more tips and writing prompts for beginning journal writers? Be sure to check out this article on how to journal especially for kids and teens, 5 game-changing tips for journaling with kids, and 33 Writing Prompts for Beginners
Until next time, write on…
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