20 Journaling Tips for Beginners

May 20, 2023 by

This is a guide covering journaling tips for beginners.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

Table of Contents

1. Go digital

People have a specific image in their heads when you tell them about journaling. It has to do with blank white papers, or a diary and a pen.

Although writing by hand has its own cognitive benefits over typing, it is not entirely necessary to write your journal on paper.

Make use of the Notes application on your iPhone or the Evernote application for desktop for digital journaling.

2. Start your day by writing in your journal every day (or at least try)

The time you get up in the morning is the only time, in the whole day, when you will have the least distractions to contend with, and that’s why it is helpful to make your journal entries at this time.

You can set or prioritize tasks for productivity throughout the day.

3. Make it a habit

If you want to reap the life-long benefits of journaling, you need to make it into a habit.

According to Jeremy Dean’s Making Habits, Breaking Habits, it takes on average about 66 days to form a habit. If you stick longer with it, you would be journaling on autopilot.

4. Journal on the way to work or any time you find convenient

You don’t have to ritualize journaling to the point where you are always seeking those hours that you had set aside for it.

Make some journal entries while on the way to work, waiting in line at the bank, or waiting for your order at a restaurant.

5. Express gratitude

Gratitude is an uplifting positive emotion that is criminally underrated. Gratitude journaling is a research-proven method of increasing general mental health and positivity.

If there is only one thing you need to know about how to journal for mental health then this is it: gratitude journaling.

6. Start out small

The cardinal mistake committed by most people when they start writing a personal journal is to overwhelm themselves too early in the journey.

To make habits that stick, you need to start small, with baby steps.

7. Write in the evening

Evenings are best for accountability on how your day went and identifying your sticking and distraction points so that you can develop strategies to deal with them tomorrow.

8. Write expressively

Get it all out there. No filters, just a straight-up rant. It doesn’t matter.

You aren’t getting it published anyway. If you are feeling stressed and want someone to talk to, you can instead learn how to journal for therapy.

Expressive writing helps because, just like seeing a shrink, you get to vent about your feelings and get them out in the open for you to see, which can lead to some interesting introspective realizations.

9. Create a bullet journal

A bullet journal is a structured system to keep track of your past, organize your present, and plan for your future.

It is a great way to get started journaling if you want to learn how to journal for self-growth and success.

Besides, it is a fun and easy method of journaling for beginners as well.

10. Write about the things that interest you

The notion that writing a journal is all about narrating your day’s events in chronological order is extremely mistaken.

A journal is what you make of it. So, you can choose not to write about the day.

Instead, you should use it to record ideas or thoughts that you want to explore.

11. Stimulate your mind with writing prompts

If you are a complete newbie, looking for a guide that tells you how to journal for beginners, then you should be looking into writing prompts for journaling.

A writing prompt can be a question, a recollection, or anything that can help to guide your mind toward a specific problem or event.

12. Write a letter

Yes, a good, old-fashioned letter. Write a letter of gratitude to someone in your life that you are grateful for.

If you want to learn how to journal for anxiety then this is a super helpful way to escape the anxiety trap because it will give you perspective.

Moreover, you can also write letters to yourself in the past or future. You can also be your own supporter and write about stuff that you are proud to have achieved.

13. Your journaling will suck in the beginning

If you think you are going to sound like the Dalai Lama with your first entry then you are in for a huge disappointment. And the earlier you realize that, the better.

Now, you might think that that’s going to put you off from starting a journal, but if you are prepared for the initial disappointment and choose to power through, you will certainly break some progression barriers in due time.

You are going to be surprised at how introspective and deep your thoughts go once you make journaling a habit. So, stay the course; it is worth it.

14. Try out different journaling styles

Don’t limit yourself to one journaling style. Often people will be inspired to start writing in one style by watching some YouTube video or reading research on the benefits of journaling a particular way.

But limiting your options by choosing a certain journaling style right off the bat is not a good way to begin.

Try out and experiment with different journaling styles before you stick to one.

15. Take it along with you wherever you go

This is an awesome way to catch creative ideas as they drift in and out of your consciousness.

Many artists and writers keep a journal or a notebook handy wherever they go so that they can record fleeting moments of inspiration and creativity.

You can also do this digitally on the Notes app on your iPhone, for example.

16. Narrate the day’s events

If all else fails, and you have no deep introspective thoughts, you can just write out the day’s events.

Now, you can do that chronologically or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters the most is you don’t skip a day of journaling just because you don’t feel like it or you have nothing worth writing.

17. Use a habit tracker

There are several habit-tracking apps on the market — both for iOS and Android — you can use to make journaling into a habit.

Use any one of them to achieve an unbreakable streak of journaling.

Visually, it looks satisfying on a chart to have a long streak of the days you have crossed out, and that unbreakable chain of crosses is what might motivate you to keep at it day in and day out.

18. Watch tutorials on journaling

YouTube is full of helpful journaling tips and ideas that you can try.

There are several channels specializing in the niche that can guide you to make your journaling transition from a beginner to a pro in no time.

19. Set a time block

One of the most productive ways to work is the Pomodoro technique. You can use it to write in a journal. Set a block of time, say 10, 15, or 20 minutes. It’s up to you.

20. Don’t be hard on yourself; it’s a process

Don’t beat yourself about it if you miss a day here and there.

We are all humans, and life tends to get in the way of our best-laid plans.

So, what if you missed a day? Improving your life and being a better version of yourself is a process that is going to take practice. So, stick to your journaling even if you feel like an impostor.

To further explore journaling tips, we also recommend this video by The Bliss Bean:

What is a Journal?

A journal is a personal notebook that is kept for a specific purpose by the owner, usually for self-improvement, productivity, keeping track of habits and feelings, and creativity.

You write in a journal by making entries that are snippets of the day’s events, your moods, or the things that you have set yourself to achieve.

Journaling, on the other hand, is the actual process of making entries in your journal. It is the act of writing in your journal.

Journaling is a great tool that can help you stay positive in life. Its benefits range from relieving stress and anxiety, to improving thought awareness, and helping us change our behavior.

But how do you start journaling in the first place?

Journaling provides many benefits such as boosting productivity, improving mental health, gaining clarity in thought, and enhancing perspective in and around life.

But many of you might know this already and are here to know how to journal right away.

Like any well-informed and more mature person will tell you, a better strategy is to try and learn everything about what journaling is before you put both of your feet into the water.

Say, did you know that there are different journaling styles? And the decision to choose one over the other depends on what you want from your journal.

To manifest journaling benefits, you must start somewhere. This guide is for those novices out there who have no idea about how to journal.

Like all new year’s resolutions, journaling, too, has had its fair share of fickle followers. The graph for people who search for journaling, according to this Google Trends chart, shoots up each year in the month of January only to go down as quickly in the preceding months.

journalism google trends
Journaling Google Trends chart

Sticking to habits is hard, but sticking to writing in a journal is even harder because people just don’t know how to journal and try to wing it without adequate research.

There is also a misconception that for proper journaling, you need to have a notebook and a pen and that the benefits of journaling cannot transfer to its digital formats.

But the idea with journaling is simple: to write about the things that you care to write about; the material is secondary or of no significance in this case.

What Should You Write in Your Journal?

Beginners who want to start journaling don’t know where or how to start.

People use journaling to keep track of habits, organize their life, capture ideas and thoughts, check in with their moods, and write words of gratitude and compassion.

A few famous people who used to write in a journal are Ben Franklin, Marcus Aurelius, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Winston Churchill.

Journaling styles vary from person to person. The content as well as the way one writes in a journal also varies.

For example, some people like to journal in shorthand and bullet form and some like to write in the longhand and free-form style.

So, what do you write in a journal? Again, a single definitive answer to that question doesn’t exist, mainly because everyone uses a journal for different reasons.

If you want to know about how to journal for mental health, your style and content will be different than a person who wants to start journaling to improve productivity.

An expressive form of writing is used to relieve stress and anxiety through journaling, but that kind of writing is definitely not suitable when you want to journal for achieving and setting tasks. Journaling is as versatile as you can make it.

Further, there are journaling styles that have been created to unlock specific modes of thinking.

‘Morning pages’, a kind of journaling made famous by Julia Cameron in her famous book The Artist’s Way, is an example of a journaling style developed to kickstart creativity for the day.

The morning pages serve to clear your head and get you closer to those ‘Aha!’ moments that are ever so elusive.

Further, in therapy, journaling can help people reduce anxiety and ward off depressive symptoms to improve mental wellbeing.

But no matter what sort of journal you intend to keep, and in which style, the most important thing is to start journaling daily. Develop it as a habit rather than something that you do sometimes only when you have the inspiration to put pen to paper.

So how do you begin a lifelong habit of journaling?

What is Passive Voice in Writing

How to Journal


Journaling is a personal journey, and there are no right or wrong ways to do it. Here are 5 steps to get started journaling.


  • Journal or Notebook
  • Pen
  • Digital Journaling App
  • Writing Prompts
  • Art Supplies
  • Timer or Alarm (Optional)


  1. Set a Regular Journaling Routine: Designate a specific time and place for journaling that works best for you. It could be in the morning to start your day, in the evening to reflect on the day's events, or any other time that suits your schedule. Create a comfortable and quiet space where you can focus and feel at ease.
  2. Choose Your Journaling Format: Decide on the format that resonates with you. It can be a physical notebook, a digital journaling app, or even an online platform. Select a format that feels comfortable and convenient for you to express your thoughts and emotions.
  3. Start with a Journaling Prompt or Free Writing: Begin your journaling session by either using a journaling prompt or engaging in free writing. A prompt can be a question, a quote, or a statement that stimulates reflection. Alternatively, you can simply start writing about whatever comes to mind without any specific direction. Let your thoughts flow freely and don't worry about grammar or structure at this stage.
  4. Reflect and Explore: Use your journal as a space to reflect on your experiences, thoughts, emotions, and goals. Write about significant events, challenges, achievements, and moments of gratitude. Explore your feelings, fears, dreams, and aspirations. Consider writing about lessons learned, personal growth, or insights gained from various situations.
  5. Review and Revisit: Periodically review your past journal entries to gain perspective and track your progress. Revisiting your previous entries can provide valuable insights into patterns, changes, and personal development. It allows you to see how far you've come and provides inspiration for future goals and reflections.

Final Remarks

This guide is a step in the right direction for beginners who want to learn how to journal from scratch. All the steps detailed in the guide will help you start your journaling journey straightaway.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I improve myself through journaling?

Journaling can be a powerful tool for self-improvement as it provides a space for reflection, self-expression, and self-awareness. By regularly journaling, you can gain insights into your thoughts, emotions, patterns, and goals, leading to personal growth and the ability to make positive changes in various aspects of your life.

Why is journaling so powerful?

Journaling is powerful because it allows you to delve into your inner thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a private and non-judgmental space. It helps you gain clarity, process your feelings, identify patterns, and explore different perspectives, leading to personal growth, self-discovery, and improved mental well-being.