Journaling for Beginners

If you have never journaled and think that it might be something you could enjoy but you have no idea how to start, this is for you!

I have been journaling since high school and without giving my age away, that is a few decades ago. I have boxes full of journals which every time we move get moved with us:) I could no more let them go than I could my children. They are a part of me and in many ways document my life’s journey. I have had big breaks from journaling over the years. When my children were young I didn’t journal for a number of years which I regret, but ultimately, that is the beauty of journaling. It ebbs and flows with life and there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Journaling is incredibly personal and unique to the journaler.

What is Journaling good for?

✨Unpacking your thoughts. When our heads get messy it can be very hard to untangle everything just by thinking about it. Putting your thoughts on paper is an effective way to clean up the mess a little and think more clearly.

✨Giving us a chance to be creative. Creativity is a good mood booster and writing is a wonderful tool for expressing it.

✨Giving us greater insight into our internal state. Journaling provides an opportunity to track your moods, determine triggers and understand ourselves better. This is then valuable information that helps us seek relevant support, voice our needs more effectively and become more self-aware.

✨A reference tool. Journals can be re-read providing us with reminders on how to deal with certain things in life. We can remind ourselves what has worked in the past for managing certain struggles and more importantly remind ourselves that we have overcome.

5 Simple Steps for Journaling

  1. Get yourself a nice notebook and a nice pen. Neither have to be expensive but you are not going to be very motivated if you are planning on putting into words your inner world in a supermarket lined, generic notebook and using a lidless, half empty pen you found at the bottom of your bag or in the glovebox of your car. Treat yourself to a pen that writes well, I always use a 1.0mm pen as I find it writes more smoothly. There are lots of pretty notebooks that don’t cost much so go and find one that you like the look of and can’t be mistaken for the shopping list notebook 🙂 (Tip: Kmart has gorgeous and cheap notebooks)
  2. Write. I know that sounds silly but it is true. You just need to start writing. You don’t have to be good at writing to journal. There are no fixed rules for journaling. Try it one way and if it doesn’t float your boat, try something else. Some people do the traditional ‘Dear Diary’ and write it like a letter. Others just write about their day or their week, an account of their activities, what they have eaten and how they slept and nothing more in-depth than that. Some journal about their dreams, some write poetry, some mull over the greatest questions in life like, “how do I find my purpose”, and others just write whatever is in their head and heart. Grammar and spelling are not important, neither is sentence structure or flow. You can jump from one topic to the next all in the same sentence if you like. There is no right or wrong. Personally, I tend to start my journal stating what day it is, what time of day, what the weather is like and then I launch into whatever is going on in my world, both externally and internally. Some days it is only half a page with nothing said that would be considered profound, other days I can write pages and pages as I unpack my frustrations, my grief, my joy, my anger. I ask questions that I don’t necessarily answer. I give myself food for thought and I encourage myself. I simply write, short or long, it doesn’t matter.
  3. Low expectations. I know I am guilty of throwing myself into new pursuits with gusto and great expectations and then wonder why it folds before it really got off the ground. Don’t expect too much of yourself. You don’t need to journal daily, or first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. You don’t need to spend an hour doing it and complete pages in one sitting. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. If you start off doing it once or twice a week, only manage a few lines and journal in the middle of the day that is fine. I have periods where I journal religiously every day and then long stretches where it might only be once every few weeks. I am not a morning person so no journalling for me then and I am usually too tired at night. I tend to journal during the day when I have a few minutes to myself. You do you. If this is completely new to you it may take time to start feeling more at ease with the process so take as long as you need and go as slow as you want.
  4. Expect to be uncomfortable, at least initially. If you have never journaled before, sitting down to write about ‘stuff’ can cause some discomfort. It can feel silly or trivial. You may feel self-conscious and embarrassed. Try and push through the resistance, with practice and time it gets easier and more enjoyable and the benefits are worth it. If you are struggling to know how to write maybe google ‘Journal questions’. Sometimes it is easier to have some direction in what we are writing to begin with but I would encourage you to move towards ‘free writing’ as that is what makes journaling so therapeutic.
  5. Carry your journal in your bag and then you always have it handy if things pop into your head you want to write about, or you are sitting waiting for an appointment. Finally, use colour, draw, add stickers. Make your journal unique to you. I am not an artist so I don’t tend to draw, but I know others that not only journal words, but art. I love colour though and I will use coloured pens and stickers to give my journal some life. Your journal is a reflection of you so do with it what you will. Get ideas from others but you do you!

Most of all enjoy! Enjoy the process of BECOMING a journaler and then enjoy the benefits of BEING a journaler.


One response to “Journaling for Beginners”

  1. I’ve been keeping a freewriting journal for a while now, and I don’t get as much catharsis from it that some people do, but I do appreciate being able to look back and determine what affects me, and what my typical reactions are. Anyway, thanks for this post!


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