Hello writers, journalers, creatives, friends.

Have you recently bought yourself a beautiful new journal and you want a comprehensive guide on how to journal?

How to Journal

Maybe you’ve heard of journaling from some friends or your favorite bloggers and you’ve been curious as to what it is or how to journal. Perhaps you heard Dax Shepard interview Matthew McConaughey and were super fascinated about their shared love for journalling and how that helped them find a deeper understanding and expression of who they are in the world.

Whatever has brought you here, we want to assure you that after you have read this article you will be completely clued-up on all things journaling related.

So grab a warm drink, get cozy, and let’s learn how to journal!

Journaling – What Does That Entail?

Journaling is one of the most beneficial activities you can take part in to help assist your self-care practices.

You set yourself a bit of time aside and write down your thoughts, feelings, achievements, and things you are grateful for amongst a great many other possible things.

The most wonderful thing about journaling is that it is a unique experience, meaning you can bring whatever you want to your journal.

You can write about your daily experiences and events, as you might do in a classic daily diary. Or you could use it to write about random inspirations you may have come across during your day.

So to answer the question of ‘what is journaling?’ – journaling is whatever you want it to be.

It is a unique and versatile practice of writing in a dedicated journal or notebook, or whatever you have to hand.

Why Do People Journal?

As we briefly touched on in the previous section of this article, journaling can be used for all manner of things.

The possibilities are truly endless.

What you use your journal for depends on what you want to get out of it. You may want to use it to improve your health and well-being, in which case you could use it to track things such as your water intake, your fruit, and veggie consumption, or even your daily mood with a mood tracker.

You may want to use your journal as a place for poetry or writing prompts, where you write down inspiration as and when it hits you, so you may want to carry it everywhere you go. This will build your creativity.

Maybe journaling is going to be something to help you heal. Many people send ‘letters’ in their journals, either to themselves or to people who may not be with them any longer.

You may simply want to write a journal for the simple love of writing, in which case what you write may change from day-to-day.

A really popular journal usage is to help the reader find their true, inner voice. It can help you along your journey of self-discovery. You could even use it for your spiritual journey, to connect with something bigger than yourself.

There is no right or wrong use for a journal!

Are There Any Benefits Associated With Journaling?

There are some phenomenal benefits of writing a journal.

Journal writing is a whole field of research. This means that lots of experts have looked into what effects journal writing can have on a person.

It has long since been used for practices as a way of feeling closer with your own spiritually and any Divine Being or God that a person may look to for guidance. It is thought to help on spiritual journeys because of the deeper understanding of ourselves that can be gained simply from putting pen to paper.

If you are using your journal to write down your thoughts and feelings, you can benefit from it becoming a safe place to vent and express things you may not so easily be able to put into words to speak.

Likewise, you can use journaling to help heal from trauma, and the act of writing down traumatic experiences is commonly recommended by therapists dealing with PTSD (of course, if you are suffering from issues such as these we would thoroughly recommend seeking help from a professional, too).

It can also help you overcome stress and periods of burnout, something commonly experienced by many people due to the fast-paced lifestyles we are all so accustomed to.

If you want to use your journal as a log of your day-to-day experiences and life, it can help to preserve these memories for you.

How wonderful it must be to look back on your life through a book that you have written and remember in vivid detail exactly what happened when you went on that coffee date, or remember the joy you felt from seeing a rainbow or buying those new shoes?

Simple feelings of happiness like that often quickly get forgotten, but one of the benefits of writing them in a journal means that they are preserved forever.

Other benefits of writing in a journal are numerous and we could truly write the whole article just on these benefits.

Some of our other favorite proven benefits include improving your writing skills, improving your creative skills generally, being able to see multiple perspectives through your writing, and promoting overall health and wellbeing.

The list of benefits can surely be added to daily because it seems there is nothing that isn’t improved by the act of journaling.

Wait, Isn’t ‘journal’ Just Another Word For a Diary?

As we have already stated, journals can be used as a classic diary, if that is what the user wishes. So in this sense, they can certainly be thought of as the same, or at least similar.

A diary is typically that classic daily log kept by a person, detailing what exactly happened that day – it can give great detail to the monotonous, such as ‘I had cereal for breakfast, then I had a shower but my hot water ran out so I was late for my appointment’.

See, in this case, the writer gives a day-by-day run-through of the events that happened, no matter how small. They may not put in much detail about how they were feeling as these events occurred, rather, it may serve as a place where they can look back and remember what they did on certain dates.

A journal can do this, too, of course.

However, we do think that with a journal, people tend to be far more invested, sharing more personal aspects of themselves and their days.

For example, someone who is writing a journal as opposed to a diary may well still keep a log of their day, writing about their breakfast, commute, workday, etc. However, most journal keepers will then elaborate on their feelings throughout the day.

Maybe they will state whether their moods changed, how things made them feel, whether they had anything they felt grateful for. They may even include how much water they had drunk and if they had done any exercise to improve their mood that day.

Whilst these two words are used synonymously, the difference between them, albeit subtle at times, is that journaling details our inner thoughts, feelings, desires, and inspirations as we go through each day, whereas generally a diary just captures the daily goings-on.

Of course, neither is better than the other and as they are so often used interchangeably, whatever you call it – journaling or diary writing – you are sure to reap those incredible benefits that we’ve already talked about.


What Do I Need To Start a Journal?

Starting a journal may seem a little scary at first.

Especially because we have been conditioned by our education to think that all of our writing is going to be graded, and so it must be perfect.

However, it is important to remember that this journal is for you, and only you. Unless of course, you decide to share your journal with others which is absolutely fine too.

What you should always remember though, is that your journal is a personal thing, and there is no need to be scared or worried about getting it perfect at first – there is a lot of trial and error involved sometimes before you find a journaling style that works for you.

There really isn’t one particular way to start a journal, it’s super personal!

Now the reassurances are out of the way, there are some things that will certainly help you when you are starting your journaling journey.

First thing first – you need a journal, a pen, and whatever other stationery you would like to use. You might be sensing a bit of a theme now, because again, what you choose as your journal and pen is completely your choice.

We recommend choosing a pen that is comfortable for you to write with, with ink that doesn’t smudge easily to start with. You can always experiment with different types of pens, too, such as different nib thicknesses and colors.

You can also use a pencil or marker if you prefer that!

For your journal, have a little think about whether you want lined pages, square grids, blank pages, or the newer creation of dotted pages for bullet journaling (named so because of the dotted pages looking like bullet points, and the frequent use of bullet points when writing).

You can choose whatever journal you like, you can keep it smart with plain leatherbound, or you can get something bright with an inspirational quote on the front. (Here are some of our favorite journals!)

You can even grab a common notepad if you wanted to!

In terms of size, if you imagine doing any artwork in your journal, then a bigger journal may be more suited to you.

For just writing, a smaller one will be fine. You may also want to consider whether you want to swap out your journal types every time you fill one or stay with the same style. You may want a big, artistic journal for your first one but then a smaller one for consecutive journals.

You can even write on loose pieces of paper and pop them all into a binder if you want to!

Remember — The perfect journal is the one that you want. This is because to find your true inner voice through journaling, you need a journal that symbolizes that too. Your tools need to make you feel comfortable and be an extension of you.

If you are drawn to a specific journal, then we recommend going towards that one!

Now you have your basics – a pen and the all-important journal – you can also grab yourself some cute stickers, washi tapes, highlighter pens, and whatever else you want in terms of stationery. You can be as creative as you want when starting your journal!

…and then, all you have to do is write.

Yep, that’s it.

You simply pick up your favorite pen and new journal and start writing. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

That’s because it is!

There are a ton of journaling prompts out there on the internet if you are super stuck on how to begin, but we highly recommend just going with the flow, letting your mind take over.

You will probably find that you find your journaling style over time, and just allowing yourself to write time without restraints is the way to get there!

I’ve Heard People Mention ‘Journal Writing Rituals’. What Are These?

A Journaling Writing Ritual can be a very beneficial practice to help with your journaling journey. To fully understand what it means we must first consider what is meant by the word ‘ritual’.

Typically, this word brings imagery of religious practices, witchcraft, and all things spooky. This imagery is pretty much spot on.

Rituals are commonly practiced in different religious sectors, and mean the specific practices that are performed in a sequence by a person, or group of people, to yield results such as messages from the Divine, or to give thanks for their Gods or the universe.

Ritualistic activities are often done to help the person, or the group get into the right frame of mind – relaxed, at peace, and ready to receive the messages they hope for.

Now, that being said, rituals are not solely meant for religion and can be incorporated into everybody’s lives.

They are especially helpful for mindfulness, self-care, and of course, journaling.

Performing your ritual to get you in the right frame of mind for your journal writing can help ideas to flow more freely, as well as help you tap into your inner self.

Related to religion, if you aim to use your journal to assist on your spiritual journey, you can incorporate a ritual into this too, not only to get you in the right frame of mind for writing, but also as a time to connect to your God, Divine Body, or something bigger than yourself.

Simply put, a Journaling Writing Ritual may well be the key to getting you into a non-judgemental state of mind where you are free to be yourself. It can help focus you on your journal, and ensure that when you are writing in your journal you have no other distractions.

The purpose of completing your ritual in this way is to make sure that you can just switch off your brain to everything else, focusing solely on your journaling to get the full benefits of it.

That Sounds Amazing. How Do I Make My Own Journal Writing Ritual?

Now that you know what a journal writing ritual is, you may well be wondering how on earth you create one.

The good news is, this is super simple and will be totally personal to you and what you want to get out of it, not least because different things are relaxing to different people.

There are a number of things you should think about for your ritual such as the setting, the time of day, what you are drinking or eating (if anything), what tools you are using, any background noise, any scents you want to burn or candles you want to light, and anything else that puts you in that relaxed and reflective mood.

An example of one of our favorite evening rituals is this:-

  • First, we light lavender candles
  • We put on some relaxing, ambient sounds
  • Make some chamomile tea
  • Put on twinkly lights rather than the main overhead light
  • Get cozy with a blanket wrapped around our shoulders
  • Take some deep, mindful breathes
  • …. And write!

These simple steps may not seem like much, but we know that they will have the most calming and relaxing effect on us, letting us get in the right mindset for writing and reflecting.

In the morning, we like to be a little more energized, so we like to journal out in the garden with a coffee, or even at our desks with headphones in and a relaxing playlist.

Whatever you choose, make sure they are tried and tested by you to improve your state of mind!

What Should I Write In My Journal?

What you write in your journal will depend on what you want to record in your journal.

For example, if you plan to use journaling as a way to track progress on goals, you may have a different page dedicated to each goal.

An example of this is as follows: If one of your goals is to finish your novel that you are writing by the end of the year, you could draw up a tracker in your journal where you keep track of what your word count is each day, week, and month.

Another example of what to write is to have a page per day. On each page, you can date in the corner, and then write whatever the day has brought you, and your feelings throughout the day.

Other options for what to write in a journal include using writing prompts. For example, one writing prompt may be: “My favorite thing that happened today was …..” or “My day has been great because…..”.

If you are feeling unmotivated to write, you could change up your prompts to suit that mood, by writing “Today I do not feel inspired to write because …..”, which allows inspiration the space to materialize.

That being said, if you really cannot find the motivation to write on any day, it is important not to force it, otherwise, you risk taking away the enjoyment.

Freewriting is also a valid way to go about it. You can write differently every single time. You can start one day with a poem, or inspirational quote, or maybe even a doodle.

It is a perfect space to let your creativity flow in any way you want.

Do I Need To Write In My Journal Often?

There are no rules for how often you should write in your journal.

You may find yourself wanting to write in it multiple times throughout the day, and carrying it with you wherever you go for this reason.

You may prefer to write in the morning, and/or night, at the start or end of your day. This may allow you to reflect on events passed and make goals for the day ahead.

Like all habits, the more often you do it, the more it will form into a habit. We already know that journaling is beneficial to your mental well-being, and so like any beneficial activity, the more you do it, the more goodness you will reap from it.

You could try and set yourself aside 5 or 10 minutes every day at first to see how that feels for you. You may feel this is too much, in which case, maybe do slightly less time or do it every other day.

You may find yourself wanting to write far more, in which case, extend the time, or do it multiple times in the day.

Starting with a short, frequent daily habit first will ensure you find what rhythm suits you best.

As we say, there is no right or wrong in terms of how often you write in your journal, and you should do what suits you and your needs.

Is Daily Journal Writing Best?

Whilst it has been shown that regular journaling produces desirable benefits such as boosting mental well-being, building your creativity, and inspiring you to get in touch with your inner self, there is no rule that says you need to do it regularly.

We all know that life gets in the way sometimes.

What is important though, is that you make the time for yourself to do the things that bring you joy, and if journaling is one of those things (which we suspect it might be) then you should ensure you have adequate time in your day or week to do it.

If you are using your journal to track daily habits such as water intake, mood, and exercise, as well as using it to help achieve goals, then of course it will be most beneficial to journal each day.

It is important not to pressure yourself though because the most important thing is that you enjoy it.

If you do enjoy it you will probably find that you are more compelled to write in your journal, anyway.

How Can I Make Journal Writing Become a Habit?

Now, getting into the habit of journal writing can be hard particularly if you have never tried this form of writing before.

Typically, writing we had to do in school came with deadlines, and that was the motivation that got us writing even if we didn’t want to.

Journaling is very different. It is done purely for ourselves, and so it can be easy to just say no if you aren’t in the habit of writing yet.

Like the formation of every habit, consistency is key, and first, off you may have to fake it ‘til you make it, as they say.

To do this, we recommend setting an alarm or phone reminder to remind you to do it each morning, or evening, or both if that suits you.

The act of writing in a journal must be enjoyable for you. Therefore, if you have previously been writing about unpleasant things like your nightmares or sad events, try and include some positive things there too.

You could do this by writing one thing you are grateful for at the start of each journal entry, and then do the same at the end of each journal entry.

This way, no matter how hard the topic of your entry is that day, it will always start and end on a positive note.

Another tip for getting into this habit, especially when you are severely lacking motivation is to write one phrase or even one single word that completely encapsulates your whole day.

Try and make it as descriptive as possible in a super short phrase.

This can be quite fun to think of, and can get those creative juices flowing. By the time you’ve thought of it and write it down, you may be raring to write more.

Is There Any Support Out There From Other Journalers?

One of the nicest things about journal writing is that you will never be on your own. There is a huge community of journal writers all over the world.

Ask your friends and colleagues if any of them do it, you can bounce ideas and writing prompts off each other and motivate one another to write on those days you feel a little uninspired.

Another amazing place to look for help and support for your journal writing is online! That’s right, the online journal writing community is brimming with lots of lovely like-minded people.

You can join a Facebook group, follow Instagram accounts, or even write a blog about journaling. Lots of journalers have created social media accounts dedicated to their practice to inspire other like-minded writers and help newbies who are just starting out.

As well as these online communities where you can talk to other people, there is also a huge amount of inspiration out there to help you get your creative cap on.

If you simply type ‘journalling’ into google or Pinterest you will get tons of super cool suggestions for different writing styles, doodles you can do around your words, writing prompts, and much more!

You could even try to see if any physical groups meet up to chat about journaling.

Check on your college campus, your local recreation center, community areas, libraries, workplaces, and even check in local ads! If you can’t find a physical group, why not create your own?

We are sure there will be a lot of interest from other journalers.

Final Word

Just like that, this article is over. We are sure that you are all clued up on exactly How To Journal thanks to our Ultimate Guide.

You may well even be thinking, is this magic?

And honestly, it could be. The act of journaling does feel magic, especially when we do our journal writing rituals first.

We truly hope that your journaling journey brings you so much joy. Don’t forget that you can come back to this guide whenever you want to to help you along the way.

Joyous journaling, friends!