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Journaling Tips for Beginners + How to Start a Journal

Learn how to start a journal with these tips, tricks and supplies you might need to help get you started on your journaling journey.

The ultimate guide to for beginners on how to start a journal. Includes benefits of journaling, types of journals, and tips for beginners. | We Three Shanes

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Journaling Tips and Tricks For Beginners

Have you always wanted to journal but was unsure how to get started? Maybe you got overwhelmed thinking of all of the different possibilities and then just never started. Or maybe you bought a journal and supplies and when you went to write your mind was blank.

Whatever the reason, we can overcome it using these tips and tricks specifically designed to help out my journal beginners. Let’s get started.

Learn about the different types of journals and journaling techniques to see what works best for you for optimal journaling success. | We Three Shanes

The Why

Why do you want to start a journal? The reason I ask is because if you know the why then it will be a lot easier to get words on your paper. There are a million different reasons for journaling.

  • Reduce Stress-Maybe you are feeling stressed out and needing to release some of that. It is very helpful to write things down on paper that might be causing you stress. I know it sounds odd but it is very therapeutic to get that stress out on paper. It helps release that stressful feeling. It might not completely be gone but it sure can help lessen it and for this reason I love keeping a journal.
  • To help organize your thoughts- Sometimes everything gets jumbled up inside of our brains. When this happens, it can be hard to focus on anything. Journaling can be very good for un-jumbling things. And sometimes just seeing things written out on paper can clarify everything for you.
  • Help improve your memory- Did you know that writing things down can actually help your memory? Think about it. When I write something down I’m seeing it and reading and sometimes repeating it out loud. I like to read my journal entries out loud to myself to make sure they make sense. By writing that entry you have now entered it into your brain in several different ways, making it way more likely you will remember that story or emotion or those details much better. I have a great memory because of this.
  • Improving your mood- Kinda of like how it can help release stress or organize your thoughts, journal can help you change or fix your mood. Sometimes writing things down lets that feeling release from your body. Kinda of like how you yell at the person who cut you off in your car. They aren’t going to hear it but it totally makes you feel better!

When To Journal

One reason I feel a lot of people do not take the time to journal is because it seems so time consuming. But you do not have to write for an hour. Many times I will just jot down a few thoughts and be done in 5 minutes.

I like to journal at night before bed. This works for me as I’m reflecting on my day. For other people they are probably exhausted and emotionally or physically drain and would rather go to sleep.

If you fall in this category, you’ll want to find a time during the day. Maybe first thing in the morning while you have your cup of coffee.

You pick whatever works for you. There’s no right or wrong here.

Something that can help is to actually schedule out your journaling. This is going to be one of the best things for beginners. Starting a new habit can be hard but with consistency you won’t even need the timer any more.

Pick the time that works best for you. Set a reminder on your phone. When the reminder pops up you know it is time to start journaling.


two pictures of a gratitude journal.  On the left is a picture of the outside and the right is a picture on the inside of some journal prompts

How to Journal

So far we have covered the why and the when but what about the HOW? How do we journal? This will look different for everyone.

Did you know there are several different ways to keep a journal? And the greatest part is there is NO wrong way of doing it. You don’t even have to stick with one method. You can mix them all up if you want to.

Some people like to journal with pen and paper. Some like to type on a lap top. I have an app on my phone and I journal on my phone. Some like to buy a journal and use it. Some like to write on one sheet of paper and put them all in a notebook. You do YOU!


Types of Journals

This list will definitely not be complete. That would be an impossible task because there are many types of journaling. But here is a list of different ones I know are popular.

The purpose of this list is to give you ideas. Maybe you have never thought or heard of some of these. Hopefully, one will spark joy and excitement in you and help you finally give journalling a go.

  1. Religion- Many people like to journal their way through the Bible. In fact, if you get on amazon, there are TONS of journals you can buy to accomplish this. Become better acquainted with your religious believes and draw closer to your God. One thing I love about these kind of journals is that it would be a great one to pass down to your children or grandchildren one day.
  1. Food Journal- trying to stay fit or loose weight? A food journal may help you accomplish this. Write down what you eat everyday. Sometimes seeing what you are eating can help you better manage what you put in your body and where all of your calories are going.
  1. Pregnancy Journal- A Pregnancy journal would be a great gift for the future child someday. It would be such a fun experience to read about what you and your body went through to bring them into the world. It also could be a great way to get through the pregnancy if you don’t enjoy being pregnant. It also could be helpful for a daughter to get to read while she is pregnant.
  1. Dream Journals- I have the CRAZIEST dreams all of the time. Sometimes they are crazy for no reason and it’s just a dream. But do you ever have one of those dreams that feels like it means something? Dream journals can be a fun way to process what happened and to figure out if it had any special meaning.
  1. Art Journal- I wish I could draw but I can’t. An art journal would be such a fun way to journal. I love this idea.
  1. Bullet Journal- Bullet journaling is very popular especially with individuals who don’t enjoy writing or only have a very limited amount of time everyday. Bullet journals are just quick thoughts. Can be in list form or other ways. It’s quick and to the point.
  1. Evidence Journal- Have you heard of this? I recently discover this kind of journaling. This would be great for someone who is religious and wanting to record their spiritual experiences of life. It could also be great for someone who is recovering from trauma or suffering from PTSD. You write down an experience and how you felt and how you dealt with it. Then you have something to read later in life if you are experiencing the same thing for guidance and remembrance.
  1. Guided Journal- I see journals in stores all of the time where each page has pre-written journal prompts. These types of journals are perfect for beginners who struggle with WHAT to write. They also can be a fun way to mix things up when you have writers block.
  1. Gratitude Journal- A gratitude journal can also be short and sweet. I did this for a while. I wrote down three things every day that I was grateful for. I used little words and didn’t include much detail. This is a great way to pull yourself out of depression or through a troublesome time in your life. Maybe you feel you have nothing to be grateful for. Some days it may just be, I am grateful I have air in my lungs. I am grateful I have food in my belly. I am grateful I have a bed to sleep. And other days it may be I am so grateful that my best friend Amanda reached out to send me a funny meme when she didn’t know I needed to laugh at that moment.
  1. Flow Writing- I have a friend who swears by this kind of journaling. You set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes. You get a paper and a pen and you don’t stop writing until the timer goes off. It is a great way to connect with yourself. You might not know you are feeling a certain way until you have to write for 5 minutes straight without stopping.
  1. Scrapbook Journal- When I was a teenager I LOVED this. I would use a memo book and I would write about going to the movies for example. I would take my ticket stub and tape it right in the center of the page and then write my entry around it. If I was writing about a dance a went to and I had taken pictures there, I would tape a copy of the picture to the page next to it. It is such a fun way to journal and makes it even more enjoyable to go back and re-read them.
  1. Best Friend Journal- Kids these days do not know or understand how amazing writing letters can be. I used to write letters to all of my friends all of the time. I still have a box full of letters from the people I love over the years. One thing I did with several of my friends and boyfriends was a best friend journal. We would write a letter to them and then give them the journal. Then they would write back and pass it back. Such a fun way to create memories with someone you spend so much time with.

a picture of two journals.  The journal on the left is black and it says, "People to punch in the face" the one on the right is smaller and has a lot of different sayings on it.

Helpful Tips To Get Started

Tip 1 – Find what method works for you. I used to love writing in an actual journal with pen and paper. If I had to do that now I do not think I would ever journal.

Now I have an app and I type everything in there. One of the nice things for me is I can journal while I’m in bed about to go to sleep. It is usually quiet. I wait until my husband is asleep so I feel like I have privacy and there are zero distractions.

Tip 2 – If you are the type to write on paper, put a small notebook and pen in your purse or car. That way if you are inspired you can write as soon as inspiration hits.

My mom used to carry a tiny notebook in her purse back when no one had cell phones. I remember one time we were at the doctors and we were in the waiting room and I was nervous. Her and I wrote a poem together about the doctors and I remember it being funny and it helping me relax before the doctor came in to check on me.

Tip 3 – Use Journal prompts if you don’t know what to write about. I wrote a blog post with unique Journal prompts last year. Go check it out for some fun things to write about. You can search the internet and find lots of different prompts as well. Find some you like and use them.

Tip 4 – Use a reminder. Once you have figure out what time of days works best for you, create a reminder on your phone to go off. You won’t need to always journal this way but setting time aside is great for beginners who aren’t used to journaling yet.

Tip 5 – Make sure that there are zero distractions. I know for stay at home moms with littles are home this could be impossible.

So, try and find some quiet down time or use some noise cancelling head phones. Maybe listen to soft music while your kid colors.

It could be a fun tradition to start with your kids too. They could have quiet time at the same time as you where they can look at books. Be creative!

Tip 6 – Try journaling outside. I love being outside when the weather is nice. It could help clear your mind and give you peace. This will help you write with more intention.

Tip 7 – Lock it up. I was recently discussing journaling with a friend and she said, “I want to be able to journal my personal thoughts but I do not want it to be something anyone else reads like my kids or husband.”

I completely understand this feeling. When you are using journaling as a tool for venting, self-improvement, mental health, etc, you want your thoughts to be private.

Did you know that you can download journal apps on your phone that will lock and only you can get into them? The journal app I use is called My Wonderful Days Journal. I paid $5 dollars for a few years ago and it locks with a passcode.

Now I know I can write very personal things or I can vent about certain people in my life without the fear of them ever seeing it.

Tip 8 – Try to journal everyday at first to help form the habit. If it is feeing overwhelming doing it every day, try every other day. Or if Sundays are slow for you and you have more down time then, journal once a week to get started. Again, find what works best for you and then stick with it.

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! it’s all about you. Finally something we can be selfish about and no one will care.


Supplies To Get You Started

Here is a list of some fun things you might want or need to get started. If you click on them, it will take you to the amazon link for convince.

  • Gel Pens – these are great because they don’t smudge
  • Pencils– if you are old fashioned and need pencils to right these are great.
  • Stickers– who doesn’t love stickers. Here’s a few more options to choose from Here, Here and Here
  • Color Pencils
  • Bible Journals- Here, Here and Here
  • Bullet Journals- Here and Here And for a bullet journal with stickers and pens HERE
  • Prompt Journal- Here is one that is a little more PG 13 for those of us who use potty words Here for a more emotional prompts
  • Gratitude Journal- Here and Here

Journal Prompts To Get You Started

Just so you have a few ideas to get this journal started here is a quick list of some entries you can make that could be interesting to write about.

  1. Write an angry letter to someone you wish you had before, but never did.
  2. Make a list of some of your all time favorite songs and why you love them.
  3. Write a reflection on each of your kids and how they have grown over the years.
  4. Brainstorm an idea for a book or movie you have always wanted to write.
  5. Write a love letter to yourself reminding yourself of all the ways you are amazing!
Want to start a journal but aren't sure how? This is your can't miss guide that teaches journal types, benefits, and tips to get you started. | We Three Shanes

Again, the number one thing to remember is there is no correct way to journal. My hope in writing this post is to give you some ideas that will help you start your own journaling journey.

Did something in this post inspire you to start a journal? We’d love to hear about it in the comments. We love hearing from our readers.


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