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  • Journal Writing

How to Write a Journal Entry

Last Updated: February 6, 2023 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Nicolette Tura, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Nicolette Tura is an Authentic Living Expert who operated her own wellness business for more than ten years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nicolette is a 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher with a Psychology & Mindfulness Major, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, and is an expert in authentic living. She holds a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and got her master's degree in Sociology from SJSU. She constantly draws from her own wounds and challenges; with her training in the healing arts and sociology, she offers potent content, powerful meditations, and game-changing seminars on inspiring elevation on a personal and corporate level. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 29 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 2,564,575 times.

Keeping a journal allows you to record what’s happening in your life and to work through your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, you might write a journal for school to help you deepen your understanding of what you’re studying. Fortunately, writing a journal entry is a simple process. First, choose a topic to write about, like what's happening in your life. Then, write an opening for your entry and express your thoughts.

Choosing a Topic

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Tip: Keep a journal for school focused on studying and analyzing your course material. For instance, you might summarize your coursework, record your reflections on it, and write down questions you have. Leave out how you feel about what you’re reading or studying.

Opening Your Journal Entry

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Tip: You usually don’t include a salutation when you’re writing a journal for school.

Expressing Yourself in a Personal Journal

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Drafting an Academic Journal Entry

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Journal Entry Template

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Nicolette Tura, MA

To write a journal entry, first find a quiet, comfortable spot where you won’t be disturbed. Take a moment to brainstorm what you want to write about. You can journal about anything, like your day, your dreams, work, school, friends, or an upcoming project. If you’re not sure, choose a writing prompt for your entry, like “What was your earliest childhood memory?” or “What is your biggest secret?” Open to a new page in your journal and write the date at the top. Then, start writing. Let your thoughts flow and don’t edit yourself. Write whatever comes to mind. It’s okay to be honest since nobody else will be reading what you write. Draw pictures if specific images come to mind while you’re writing. Try to journal for somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes every day. The more you journal, the easier it will become! Keep reading to learn how to write a journal entry for school! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How To Write a Journal: Step-By Step

Do you want to know how to write a journal?

I’ve kept journals in various forms on and off for twenty years. Journal writing is a skill that asks for commitment, practice, and honesty. It’s also a perfect practice for creative and successful people.

And anyone can do it!

This article walks through how to write a journal step-by-step and includes some advanced tips. But first why even bother with journaling?

The Benefits of Journal Writing

1. journaling cultivates a daily writing habit, 2. journaling documents your life, 3. journaling tackles self-doubt, 4. it’s cheaper than therapy, 5. it cultivates personal growth, 6. journaling is a type of writing practice, how to start writing a journal: 7 easy steps, keeping multiple journals, how to find time for journal writing, using journal writing prompts, faqs on how to write a journal, journaling resources.

How to write a journal?

Journaling is a great pursuit for writers and creatives. I’ve journaled for years and recommend it to many writers.

It’s easy to start a daily journaling practice, and it doesn’t take much time. But why should you keep a journal in the first place?

To answer that question, let’s explore how some famous journal writers approached this craft.

Anytime, I avoid writing because I’m tired, bored, or devoid of ideas, I remind myself of the importance of discipline.

Almost every writer I’ve read about sacrificed to pursue their work. They rose early or worked late into the night and they wrote because they had to and not just when they felt the hand of inspiration.

Like many famous journal writers, Virginia Woolf kept hers with a pencil and paper. She recorded entries every morning until the early afternoon.

How to write a journal? Virginia Woolf

She wrote about her routine, her ordinary moments :

“I generally write with heat and ease till 12.30 and thus do my two pages. So it will be done, written over that is, in 3 weeks, I forecast from today”

Cheever bemoans his lack of discipline throughout his journals.

However, in an entry written shortly before his death in 1982, he recognizes he possessed this essential and departing personal strength that comes with adhering to a writing routine.

“I have climbed from a bed on the second floor to reach this typewriter. This was an achievement. I do not understand what has happened to the discipline, or character, that has brought me here for so many years,” he writes.

Yes, discipline is important, but not at the cost of day-to-day life. For a long time, I thought there was nothing more important than filling a blank page with sentences.

Now, I spend time running, reading, traveling, meeting friends, and sitting quietly . I do other things that aren’t writing. And I’m OK with that.

Even if you’ve found a passion, side-interests are essential. When you’re in danger of burning out, taking time to pursue a side-interest will stoke the embers of what inspires you.

Woolf chronicled her long walks while Cheever wrote dozens of entries about swimming, cycling, and meeting friends.

“I do have trouble with the dead hours of the afternoon without skating, skiing, bicycling, swimming, or sexual discharges or drink,” he writes.

The Russian writer Nabokov had little time for eating, socializing, or drinking coffee with friends.

Instead, he loved to solve chess problems and study butterflies. Both of these interests informed his work; his novel, Zashchita Luzhina (The Luzhin Defense), features an insane chess player.

He writes in his memoir:

“And the highest enjoyment of timelessness…is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love.”

Self-doubt is a problem for many writers. They worry about what others will think of their ideas and stories.

Years ago, I didn’t like writing articles like this one. I worried about how people will perceive me, and if I’ll upset or offend anyone.

I learned from Virginia Woolf’s journals that many writers are insecure about their work. However, criticism can help writers improve their craft.

She writes:

“What is the use of saying one is indifferent to reviews when positive praise, though mingled with blame, gives one such a start on, that instead of feeling dried up, one feels, on the contrary, flooded with ideas?”

Cheever wasn’t one for paying too much attention to his critics. He rarely re-read his works or reviews about them. That said, even Cheever occasionally dreamt (worried) about how people saw him.

He writes in his journal:

“…and last night I had a dream that a brilliant reviewer pointed out that there was an excess of lamentation in my work.”

One way to overcome insecurity is to practice expressing gratitude.

I try to do this by thanking those who take the time to read or even share my work, and by appreciating that writers today have more places to express themselves than before.

Vladimir Nabokov

Several years ago, I became a father for the first time. It was a happy time but after my son was born, I dreamt about death and how my life would end.

I knew I wasn’t depressed but I worried there was something wrong with me. Then a friend (also a recent father), confessed the same thoughts. As we get older, it’s natural to consider mortality and death. To pretend death doesn’t exist is to live in ignorance of the bond we all share.

There are echoes of death in Woolf’s, Cheever’s, and Nabokov’s memoirs, and these authors taught me it’s unnatural to avoid considering our place in the world.

In the opening pages of Speak Memory, Nabokov unpacks the notion of time as a single linear event. He challenged the reader to see not just the endpoint of life, but the beginning of life as well.

“….my mind has made colossal efforts to distinguish the faintest of personal glimmers in the impersonal darkness on both sides of my life.”

In short, journaling is good for your well-being and mental health.

John Cheever quote

Journaling is a good way of exploring your ideas, opinions, and inner beliefs.

Through this habit, you can mark accomplishments and failures and also reflect on important life lessons.

The journals of Cheever, Woolf, and Nabokov taught me that keeping a journal helps identify negative patterns, thoughts, and behaviors.

Woolf writes about her depression at length. In 1934, she describes the period after she finished her experimental novel The Waves .

“I was, I remember, nearer suicide, seriously, than since 1913.”

John chronicles his alcoholism at length in his journal and towards the end of his book, it’s hard not the feel the same sense of relief as he does upon finally becoming sober.

If you want to learn how to write a journal, I don’t want to be too morbid and put you off.

The journals of these authors aren’t all filled with dark life lessons and lamentations. Sometimes, these writers express gratitude.

Nabokov writes at length about his love for his mother and father, his son, and Russia of old. And I’ve yet to read a more powerful personal mission statement than Cheever’s aspiration for the blank page:

“To write well, to write passionately, to be less inhibited, to be warmer, to be more self-critical, to recognise the power of as well as the force of lust, to write, to love.”

Writer’s block describes feeling uninspired and having no great ideas to write about. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about that while journaling. After all, your journal ideas and entries are for you and you alone.

Simply, turn up for a few minutes at the same time each day and jot down what you’re thinking or doing.

It’s also helpful for:

Even if you don’t turn journal entries in public works, it’s entertaining and revealing to read back on older entries from your own life.

You don’t have to be a writer to learn how to journal.

To practice journaling, write a short entry at the same time of day, every day. If that sounds like too much work, try once a week.

If you want to learn how to start a journal on your computer, use a dedicated journaling app like Day One. It’s built for digital journaling and supports images and videos as well.

Alternatively, create a password-protected file on your computer using Word, Pages, or some other word processor. Ideally, it should sync with a service like Google Drive so you don’t have to worry about losing entries.

With that in mind, follow these steps:

Step 1: Pick a Time for Journaling

Open your journaling tool of choice, close the door, and relax. If you have one to hand, pick a single journal writing prompt. Eliminate any distractions including your phone and social media. It’s easier to follow a journaling habit if you stick to it at the same time every day.

Step 2: Select a Topic to Write About

A journal entry works well if it’s about a single topic, e.g. your daily routine, creative projects, or a personal problem.

That said, there are no rules. Free write if you have to.

Often the biggest challenge with creating a journaling habit is figuring out what to write about. You can start a journal entry in several different ways.

Here are some creative things to write about in a journal:

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, advocates keeping morning pages. These are a great way of starting a journal entry .

All you have to do is get up, sit down at your desk and write a stream of consciousness entry first thing.

Step 3: Journal for a Pre-determined Period

Set a timer for twenty-five minutes. If that’s too long, aim for five minutes. Consistency is more important than duration. Depending on what’s happening, you may have time to write longer journal entries at the weekend or evening time.

Oh, and keep writing!

Step 4: Don’t Stop To Edit 

While writing a journal entry, don’t stop to edit yourself or edit for punctuation until the buzzer sounds. Editing and journaling are different activities. Also, journal entries are for you alone, so it doesn’t matter if you write a stream-of-consciousness.

Step 5: Explore Your Thinking

Allow for negative thoughts, expressive writing, and random ideas to make their way into your journal entries. Reflective journaling is a type of therapy and a window into the soul. So, don’t hold back.

Step 6: Stop and Tidy Up

When the timer sounds, re-read your journal entry and tidy it up. Then, move on with your day.

Step 7: Review Your Journal Entries Regularly

Review your journal entries and writing process once a week, month, or quarter. Past entries should inform future entries. I don’t recommend revising old entries much though, beyond fixing typos and grammar errors. It’s easy and unhelpful to judge an old version of yourself. When in doubt, write a new entry.

I’ve kept various journals on and off since I was fifteen years old. These days, I record a personal journal , and it contains the types of entries you would expect to find in someone’s journal or diary i.e. it’s about my day-to-day life.

I write 200-300 word entries every morning and a longer entry at the weekend. It’s kind of like my morning pages (an idea advocated by Julia Cameron). I also record a professional or business journal . Here, I write about how this blog and my work is progressing. I also describe the challenges I’m having and what I’m working on.

Finally, I keep a type of Zettelkasten in Day One, which acts as a repository of ideas and information I come across for future writing projects.

Here, I record snippets and other information from books I read, courses I take and talks I watch. I also include the links and write a reaction to these. This journaling habit gives me more source materials for future articles.

For example:

This Zettelkasten or Slip box contains dozens of entries about writing advice from creative masters like John Cheever and Virginia Woolf.

I used a few of them for this article!

If you want to learn more about the Zettelkasten method, check out my podcast interview with Sacha Fast .

I won’t lie; if you want to keep writing a journal, you must commit to the practice. Some people who want to keep a journal say they find the process time-consuming, that they forget to write regular entries, and that it can become a chore.

These are valid concerns for journal writers.

I spend several hours each week on journal writing. However, if you’re new, start with five minutes a day, ideally in the morning before you forget. Wake up early if you have it.

If you’re experiencing these problems, accept that there will be times when you don’t or can’t write. Instead, remember the benefits of journal writing and that no one needs to read or see this work (i.e. it doesn’t have to be perfect or even polished).

You don’t need to keep more than one either. I’ve shared how I practice journal writing in case it helps.

Some mornings it’s hard to write while tired and under-caffeinated. So I created a personal list of journal writing prompts and used those for a long time.

Day One app contains daily journal writing useful prompts. I also like taking pictures of my phone while out and about and using these to start writing entries faster. Sometimes, I just write up what I did yesterday.

I occasionally use TextExpander for OS X ( Phase Express is a Windows alternative) to write entries faster. These are text-expansion apps that turn keyboard shortcuts into snippets of text that I use for my entries.

For example, when I type “; journal”, TextExpander pastes the following questions into my personal journal:

How am I feeling right now? What are my plans for today? What did I read/listen to? How did I help my family?

When I type “; blog”, Textexpander pastes the following questions:

What did I do yesterday? What lesson did I learn? What could I have done better? What one thing must I focus on this week?

I use a semi-colon to prevent Textexpander from inadvertently creating this text while I’m working on something else. These questions serve as writing prompts . When I see them appear on the page, I spend less time thinking about “what I want to write” and more time answering these questions.

You can also find several dozen journal writing prompts in my book Yes You Can Write!

Journal Writing Tools and Resources

If you want more, check out Anthony Metevier’s post How To Keep A Journal And Remember More and also my detailed guide on Medium.

What do you write in a personal journal?

You can write whatever you want as each entry is for you alone. Some good topics include what you did yesterday, goals, your to-do list, and personal or professional challenges.

How do you structure a journal?

Journal entries typically don’t require much structure. However, it’s a good idea to date your entries so you can understand your journal’s chronology.

What is an example of a journal?

The novelist John Cheever’s journals and Virginia Woolf’s journals are both good examples worth reading.

What is the purpose of journal writing?

Journal writing enables you to clarify your thinking, work through negative emotions and record your daily life. It’s also a form of writing practice.

The Best Journals to Buy

Diary Vs Journal: What’s The Difference?

Adam Jelic interview , the creator behind MiGoals journals

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The Write Practice

How to Write a Journal: 6 Tips

by Pamela Hodges | 61 comments

Do you keep a journal? I do. It is how I remember the travels I've taken, the life experiences I've enjoyed, and the litter boxes I've cleaned.

How to Write a Journal: 6 Tips

We are writers, so it is even more helpful for us to start a journaling habit, such as the morning pages writer Julia Cameron encourages. Not sure yet? Let me share some tips from my journaling experience on how to write a journal.

4 Advantages of Keeping a Journal

There are many reasons why it is a good idea to keep a journal. I want to share four big reasons this daily habit may help you with your writing process and develop your writing skills.

1. Remember details

When I traveled to Europe in 1978, I kept a journal of my daily life. I have notes from the trip to Greece where I wiped out on a moped, weeded sugar beets on Kibbutz Reshafim in Israel, and hitchhiked through occupied territory in the south of Israel.

There were several details of my trip that I had completely forgotten until I reread my personal journals.

December 16th, 1978 Walking to the orchard from the kibbutz the sun was so hot I stopped and just listened to the silence. (Walking I could hear stones crunch) I had to take off my sweater the  sun was so intense. 

Recording the details of your life can enrich your stories. One year for The Spring Writing Contest at The Write Practice, I wrote a story about when the IRS called me to say I owed money.

In my first draft, I wrote that the amount they said I owed was $638 dollars. After I had completed the first draft I went back to the notes I had written in my journal, and the correct amount was over six thousand dollars: $6,846.48 to be exact. Well, maybe there are some things we don't want to remember.

Thankfully, I didn't send the money. It wasn't the “real” IRS. But it was even better than a writing prompt for a story idea.

“People who keep journals have life twice.” —Jessamyn West

2. Find old friends

Keeping a journal can help you find old friends. One of the women I met on November 26th, 1978, wrote down her address. I found her on Facebook and just sent her a message. (Social media and Google can also help, but the journal did remind me of her name.)

We'll see if she responds to my Facebook message. It has been almost forty years since she lent me a pair of gloves when I scraped my hand on the pavement when I fell off my moped.

3. Help process feelings and ideas

When you keep thoughts in your head it can be hard to know how you think and feel. Writing down how you feel will help you process your emotions , as feelings become words, which can be then be edited.

That expressive writing can be therapeutic, but it can also help you flesh out characters later.

4. Preserve the writer's history

When you are dead and a famous writer, your journals will give your readers insight into how you thought and what your life was like.

You may never sell more than one hundred copies of your book, you may never publish your writing, or your journals may only be read by the mice that crawl through your basement. Or your journals will be read by zombies after the zombie apocalypse, sharing insight into your life and daily routines.

If you don't want anyone to read your journal, keep it in a locked box and swallow the key. (Please don't really swallow the key. It would be unpleasant to have to find it again, and you might choke.) Put the key in a safe spot, and then remember where you put it.

6 Tips for How to Write a Journal

Now you know why journaling can be helpful. But how should you journal? It is very personal, and you should do what works best for you. But I will give you some tips to help you get started.

1. Choose your kind of journal

A book, where you write with a pen or pencil on paper: Write in a book that is not so pretty you are afraid to write in it. Keep the size small enough you don't mind carrying it in your messenger bag, and big enough you can read your handwriting.

Do not try journaling at night if the only paper you have on your bedside table is a bandaid. The next morning I couldn't read my writing on the bandaid, and the idea I wanted to journal was lost.

The advantage of pen to paper is you can write without having to be plugged into an electronic device. You don’t have to worry about a dead battery, and you can write even when the sun is bright or the airline makes you turn off your electronic devices.

The disadvantage to a paper journal is if you lose the journal and you didn’t make a copy of it, you have lost all of the writing. But either way, the journal writing helps you pay attention and record the moments of everyday life that will fade with time otherwise.

Software: There are several software applications on the market you can use to keep a digital journal. Be sure they sync to the cloud, as you don’t want to lose your entries because you fry your computer's hard-drive.

Journey and Day One can add photographs and text and export all of your entries into a PDF. You can also journal in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or Scrivener and save your files to a cloud-based program that will keep your files safe if you lose your computer or pour water on your keyboard.

2. Date your entry

You think you will remember when it happened, but without a written date, you might forget. Make it a part of your journal writing routine to date the entry.

3. Tell the truth

The journal is a record of how you felt and what you did. Telling the truth will make you a reliable storyteller.

If you haven’t cleaned the seven litter boxes for a week, don’t write that you clean them every day simply because you want your readers one hundred years from now to think you had good habits.

The beauty of journal writing is that you can record things honestly for yourself that you might not otherwise record or share.

4. Write down details

Record details like the time, location, who you were with, and what you were wearing. Details will help bring the memory alive when you record using your five senses .

To this day, if I smell a certain kind of Japanese soup, I can remember vividly the day I flew to Korea to renew my Japanese visa, only to discover the Japanese embassy was closed for a traditional Japanese holiday.

5. Write down what you felt

What you were thinking? Were you mad? Sad? Happy? Write down why.

6. Write a lot or a little

A journal entry doesn’t have to be three pages long. It can be a few words that describe what happened, a few sentences about the highlight of your day, or it can be a short description of an event from your day, where you describe details to help you remember what happened. What time of day was it? What sound do you remember?

Your journal entry might be a drawing, a poem, or a list of words or cities you drove through. It is your journal, and you have the freedom to be creative.

You can use journal writing prompts or simply tap into a memory that floats into your mind.

When to Journal

There is no right or wrong time to write in a journal. Write when you will remember to do it. Do you always brush your teeth before you go to bed? Have writing in your journal be part of your bedtime routine. Perhaps put it on your bedside table, or beside your hammock, or on the floor beside your futon.

If you are a morning person, consider keeping your journal on the table where you drink your morning coffee, tea, water, milk, or orange juice.

These are only suggestions. You don’t have to write down your feelings or why you felt a certain way. I hate being told what to do. Even if it is a good idea.

Keep a journal if you want to. And if you think writing in a journal is stupid, don’t keep one. You might have written all day on your novel, and then some writer with six cats and seven litter boxes wants you to keep a journal.

Only record the details you want to remember, or the details you don’t think you will forget. Which is like saying, only floss the teeth you want to keep.

Do you write in a journal? Do you think writing in a journal is a good idea for a writer, or a bad idea? Please tell us why in the comments .

Write for fifteen minutes about some aspect of your day as though you were writing in a journal. Your journal entry might be a drawing, a poem, a list of words, or a list of cities you drove through.

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Pamela writes stories about art and creativity to help you become the artist you were meant to be. She would love to meet you at pamelahodges.com .

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How to Write a Journal Guide

We keep a lot of things in our heads, but we put less down on paper. All those thoughts and ideas bouncing around can sometimes feel overwhelming. You have to-do lists, hopes, dreams, secrets, failures, love, loss, ups and downs. Ideas come and go, feelings pass. How do you remember all of them? How do you keep them organized? A great way to keep your thoughts organized and clear your mind is to write them down in a journal. Writing is a great exercise for anyone and by expressing yourself in a personal place is a wonderful way to stay sane. 

Starting a Journal

To start a journal, you just need to be willing to write. You don’t have to write well, you just need to want to do it. You don’t even need to decide what to write, you just need to let your words flow. Once you’ve decided you want to create a journal, here is a long list of instructions to guide you: 

Set up a schedule of when you play to write in your journal. You want to turn your writing into a habit, so create a schedule. Pick a time and the days of the week you will want to write and create a timely calendar reminder, so you don't forget. By scheduling the same times, journaling will become a natural and regular part of your agenda that you can look forward to. 

Screenshot of a modern calendaring application used to help schedule when you should journal.

Find the right space to write.  

When you’re writing, it is helpful to be in a space where you can focus and concentrate. A quiet room with no distractions works best. Allow yourself to focus on your writing, without any interruptions. Make sure you are able to sit upright and are comfortable. An office or a study room is always great.

A cozy and private desk space perfect for conentrating and focusing on journal writing.

Buy a physical journal or Sign-up for Penzu

Penzu is a digital journal that will allow you to write from any device. It will make your journal writing incredibly easy-to-use, accessible, organized and private. It will save all your work and date it for you, so you never need to remember. It is a great tool for writing anywhere and keeping your work in one place. 

Screenshot of the modern and sleek Penzu signup flow. Just enter your name, email, and password to get started.

Close your eyes and reflect on your day. 

You may not know what to write about and that’s okay. Your journal can be about anything you want. A good way to begin writing is to close your eyes and think about what you’re feeling. 

A woman meditates before recording her reflections into her journal.

Ask yourself questions.

What has happened that day? How did that make you feel? Are you excited about anything? Why? Reflect on the thoughts and feelings you’ve been having.

Woman standing in front of a cloud of question marks on a chalkboard.

Dive in and start writing.

It is easy to begin sentences with, “I feel,” or “I think,” or “I wonder.” Don’t feel pressured to stick to any particular form or topic. The beginning of your journal writing can just be an introduction to your thoughts at the time. This is your personal space, so you should feel comfortable writing. 

A pen rests on a blank pad of writing paper - perfect for sharing your reflections, thoughts, and feelings.

Time yourself.

Set a time for how long you want to write. Somewhere between 5-20 minutes is ideal, depending on how much you want to jot down. Setting a time will help you stay focused and stop you from getting carried away. It is easy to feel like you need to write down every detail and this will help prevent that. 

A hand holds a stopwatch ready to start the timer whenever it's time to start journaling.

Re-read your entry and add additional thoughts. 

A hand holds a pen over a full page of lined writing paper in a notebook.

10 Tips When Writing a Journal

Here are some tips to get started properly and consistently writing in your journal.

1. Set a schedule

As we mentioned earlier in the article, setting a schedule is a great first step. Decide how many times you want to write and set a schedule. Whether it be once a day, or once a week, decide on a time you want to write and don’t skip it. 

2. Keep it private

A journal is personal and should be a place you feel comfortable expressing yourself honestly and truthfully. Penzu keeps your journal safe and secure, with all your entries made private by default, only made available to share under your command. 

3. Meditate

Any journal entry will benefit from some moments of reflection before you begin writing. Before you start writing, go to a quiet place and focus on your breath for a few minutes. This is a wonderful exercise to clear your head and settle your thoughts . 


If you want your journal to be about something specific, brainstorm ideas to write about. You can write a bible journal , a dream journal , cooking, work, school, anything you want! Feel free to start writing down ideas of what you are interested in or feel you should be writing about. This is the perfect place to get your creative juices flowing. Check out this page for a list of all the different types of journals .

5.Date your entry

It is important to keep each journal entry dated, so you know when you wrote it. You will want to go back through your journal at some point and see when the entries of the topic you’re writing about were added. Also, it will be nice to see how you were feeling at different points in your life. Penzu automatically dates your entries for you, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to do it. 

6.Title your entry

If you can, try and title your entries. This will help you navigate your journal and keep your writings focused. You don’t need to title it before you start writing though. A great way to think of a title is after you’ve written, but it is something to keep in mind. 

7.Write naturally

When writing, don’t feel like you have to follow any form or structure. Just do what comes naturally. Follow your train of thought and see what kind of writing follows. 

8.Write quickly

Don’t let writer’s block get in your way. Just keep writing whatever comes to mind. It is always hard to stop and start again, so keeping writing. It doesn’t have to make sense. Don’t think too much about the words you are putting on the page. You can make sense of them later. 

9.Write honestly

Your journal is for your eyes only, so be honest. You don’t want to lie to yourself. Be real with your thoughts, feelings and opinions. Be as candid as you can. You want your journal to be an honest representation of yourself and the times you’re writing in. 

10. Have fun

Writing a journal should be an enjoyable experience. Have fun with your writing and take pleasure in it. Writing in your journal shouldn’t be a chore. It should be something you look forward to doing, so make it a fun exercise. 

8 Extra Tips For New Journal Writers

Writing a journal entry is different for everyone. We all write differently and about different things, so it is a different experience for everyone. We can help with pointing you in the right direction, whatever that direction may be. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Think about what you want to write. 

Your journal doesn’t need to have a theme, but an easy way to start writing an entry is to think about what you want to write about. 

Decide what you wish to discuss and go in that direction.

2. Try writing with a journaling prompt

If you are having trouble deciding on a topic, try writing personally and/or creatively to get you started. Here are some journaling prompts you could think about:

3. Plan ahead

Make sure you have a designated time to write. That way you can start thinking about what you want to write throughout the day and can prepare ideas. This will also get you looking forward to writing.

4. Practice

Write as much as possible. Writing will become easier you more you do it. Try and get into the habit of writing regularly and your entries will start coming to you naturally. 

5. Write letters

There are certainly times in your life where you wish you said something, or wish you didn't say something. Write about these moments. Think about writing letters that you will never send. They can be addressed to specific people or not, but they are great outlets for honest thoughts and make for compelling entries.

6. Try different perspectives

A helpful method of writing is to write from different perspectives. Pick a topic or event to write about and try writing in from someone else’s perspective, like a parent’s, a friend’s, or even an animal’s. It is healthy to think about things from different points of view. 

7. Add pictures

Pictures say a thousand words and can certainly inspire more. With Penzu you can import photos right into your entries, so feel free to add them throughout or just at the beginning to give you inspiration. You can talk about what is happening in the picture, the person that took it, what isn’t pictured, or just what it means to you. Think of it as giving the picture a long caption. 

8. Free write

Free writing is without direction, structure or motive. This means just take yourself to the page and go wild. Whenever an idea pops into your head, just write it down. It doesn't have to be cohesive or have a purpose. 

To Start Writing in a Journal With Penzu

Now that you’ve learned many tips of how to start and write in a journal, it’s time to get started with Penzu. Here’s how to get started:

Writing journals is simple and easy! Download Penzu today and get let the words flow!

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Journal Basics

What is a Journal?

Journal Entries

Benefits of Journaling

Journal Types

Ideas for Journals

Gratitude Journal

We'll explain what a gratitude journal is, how to figure out what you're grateful for (and why), and some guidelines for keeping one through Penzu.

Prayer Journal

Deepen your relationship with God by writing down your prayers every day. Learn by reflecting on prayers that have been answered, and others that haven’t.

Dream journals are instrumental in fields as diverse as psychology, natural science, creative arts and advanced mathematics. What is your subconscious trying to tell you?

Bible journals can provide you with a therapeutic way to better cope with everyday situations, understand your feelings and establish a connection between your life and the biblical content.

How To Create a Reflective Journal

A reflective journal is the perfect place to jot down some of life's biggest thoughts.

Copyright Penzu Inc. 2023

The Center for Journal Therapy

“I don’t have time to write a journal!” “I don’t know what to write about!” “How do I get started? “I’m a lousy writer!” “HELP!!”

It’s Easy to W.R.I.T.E.

Just try these five easy steps. You’ll be writing!

W – What do you want to write about? What’s going on? How do you feel? What are you thinking about? What do you want? Name it.

R – Review or reflect on it. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Focus. You can start with “I feel…” or “I want…” or “I think…” or “Today….” or “Right now…” or “In this moment…”

I –  Investigate your thoughts and feelings. Start writing and keep writing. Follow the pen/keyboard. If you get stuck or run out of juice, close your eyes and re-center yourself. Re-read what you’ve already written and continue writing.

T – Time yourself. Write for 5-15 minutes. Write the start time and the projected end time at the top of the page. If you have an alarm/timer on your PDA or cell phone, set it.

E – Exit smart by re-reading what you’ve written and reflecting on it in a sentence or two: “As I read this, I notice—” or “I’m aware of—” or “I feel—”. Note any action steps to take.

In summary….it’s easy to W.R.I.T.E. ! W hat topic? R eview/reflect I nvestigate T ime yourself E xit smart

Looking for free journaling workshops?  Check out our on-demand courses including “ J is for Journal: A Short Course on Writing for Healing, Growth, and Change ,” with seven lessons containing a total of 68 writing prompts!

Eight Suggestions for New Journal Writers

1. Protect your privacy. Store your journal in its own special place so that the temptation for others to read is diminished. Ask for agreement with your housemates that your journal is private. Reserve the first page of any new journal for your name and phone number or e-mail address, along with a notice: This is my personal journal. Please do not read it without my permission. If none of that would stop whoever might read your journal, get a shredder. Find a creative way to protect your privacy, such as a new gmail or yahoo account, freshly passworded, from which to write yourself at that address. Or keep your journal on a flash drive. Make your privacy an intentional act.

2. Start with an entrance meditation. Nearly every journal technique benefits from a few minutes of focused quieting. Use visualization, soft music, candles, deep breathing, stretches, whatever works for you.

3. Date every entry. If you only establish one habit in your journal, let it be this one! Dating every entry allows you to chronologically reconstruct your journal by date. It also lets you hear the silence between your entries.

4. Keep (and re-read) what you write. Often the writes that feel like throw-aways contain the seeds for future insight. Keep it, re-read it later, and surprise yourself with how much you knew that you didn’t know you knew!

5. Write quickly. You can outsmart dreaded “journal block” by writing so fast that the Internal Critic and the Internal Censor can’t keep up. Keep your pen moving!

6. Start writing; keep writing. Start with the present moment (“What’s going on?”) Or start with a feeling (“I’m so mad I could bust!”) Or start with a story (“Today the weirdest thing happened….”) Once you’ve started, don’t go back to edit or rewrite. And don’t think too much. Let it flow.

7. Tell yourself the truth. Your own truth is not your enemy. Don’t try to talk yourself out of knowing what you know or feeling what you feel. Give yourself permission to tell the truth. Also give yourself permission to pace yourself. If the truth seems too bright or harsh, then slow it down.

8. Write naturally. If there is one inviolate rule of journal writing, it is that there simply are no rules! Do what works. Don’t worry about what you’re not doing. Give yourself permission. Let yourself enjoy the process!

14 Writing Techniques for Your Journal

1. Sentence Stem. A sentence-completion process. Fill in the blank with a word or phrase. May be very universal (Right now I feel———-) or highly customized to an individual’s immediate question, problem or interest.

2. Five-Minute Sprint . A timed writing process designed to bring focus and intensity in short bursts. Excellent for those who are resistant or aversive to journal writing, or who are uncertain about how to start, or who state they do not have time to write journals.

3. Inventory. An assessment of life balance in major areas of living (health, family, home, work, spiritual/religious, emotional well-being, etc.) Gives a quick picture of which life areas might need attention.

4. Structured Write. A series of Sentence Stems grouped and sequenced to reveal consistently deepening layers of information and awareness.

5. Clustering. Visual free-association from a central word or phrase. Lines and circles connect key thoughts and associations to the central core. Work quickly to maximize results. A brief writing to synthesize findings may follow.

6. Lists of 100. A list of 100 items, many of which will probably be repetitions, on a predetermined theme or topic. Repetition is an important part of the process. Topics can be about any current issue (for example: 100 Things I’m Sad About; 100 Things I Need or Want to Do; 100 Places I Would Like to See). At the end of the list, group the responses into themes and synthesize the information.

7. Alphapoem. Write the alphabet, A-Z, or any collection of letters, vertically down the side of a page. Then write a poem in which each successive line begins with the next letter. Excellent for groups as it promotes a high level of participation and sharing. Adolescents and reluctant writers respond well.

8. Captured Moments. Vignettes capturing the sensations of a particularly meaningful or emotional experience. Written from the senses with strong descriptors. Captured Moments of beauty, joy, blessing, calm can add balance, hope and perspective to a challenging time.

9. Unsent Letters . A metaphoric communication to another that is written with the specific intention that it will not be shared.

10. Character Sketch . A written portrait of another person or of an aspect of the self. Can also be written about emotions by personifying an emotion and giving it a characterization – an appearance, a style of dress, a personality and temperament.

11. Dialogue. A metaphoric conversation written in two voices. Anyone or anything is an appropriate dialogue partner. There is no constriction by time, space, physical reality or literal voice.

12. Perspectives . An alteration in point of view that provides a different perspective on an event or situation.

13. Springboard. A free-write with a prompt. Starting a free-write with the smallest structure of a question, thought or topic can focus and frame the writing session.

14. Free Writing. Unboundaried, unstructured, unpaced narrative writing. Useful for creative flow or spontaneous writing sessions. Can be structured by adding a time limit or page limit.

(c) Kathleen Adams. All rights reserved. For reprint permission please email us .

Center for Journal Therapy

3440 youngfield st., #411 wheat ridge, co. 80033 phone: (303) 209-9599 contact us >>.

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You are here: Home » Blog » Journaling

7 Things to Write in Your Journal (For Positivity and Growth)

Updated on January 29, 2023

Journaling comes with lots of therapeutic benefits, plus it can simply be a lot of fun. So you decided that you want to get started with your journal. The next question is: What do you write in your journal?

Even though there aren't any rules in journaling, you don't want to mess it up either. You don't want to fill an entire journal with thousands of words, only to later find out that you'd rather have written about something else. If you don't know what to write in your journal, I'll show you some of the things that have helped most people get started.

By writing these things in your journal, I guarantee that you'll never regret any of your hard work. Here are 7 ideas to write in your journal that are fun, meaningful, and make use of the many benefits of journaling.

Why it's hard to think of what to write in your journal

What to do if you don't know what to write in your journal, 1. journal about things that you're grateful for in your life, 2. write down all the things that have kept you down today, 3. rate your happiness on a scale from 1 to 100, 4. write down your goals, 5. journal about a random memory of your youth, 6. write a letter to your future self, 7. start by answering a journal prompt, one final tip: resist the urge to edit, wrapping up.

As I said in the intro, there are no rules when it comes to journaling.

But I totally understand why it might feel difficult to actually write down that first word. After all, there's no going back once the ink hits the paper.

However, here are two statements that might help you get started:

I use this advice in other aspects of my life as well (it helps me deal with perfectionism ), but it's super applicable to journaling as well.

You can't reap all the benefits of journaling without allowing your pen to touch the paper. And in the end, a couple of sentences that look like gibberish won't completely ruin your journal.

One of my favorite types of books to read is to read someone else's published journal. I've read a couple of great journals, like:

By reading these journals, I've gotten some great ideas about what to write in my own journal.

But what stuck with me most was a passage from David Sedaris' diary (Theft By Finding).

It might look like my average diary entry amounts to no more than seven sentences, but in fact I spend an inordinate amount of time writing about my day – around forty-five minutes, usually. If nothing big happened, I’ll reflect on a newspaper article or a report I heard on the radio. I’m not big on weather writing but have no policy against it. Thus when life gets really dull, I’ll just look out the window and describe the color of the sky. That will lead to something else, most often: a bird being mean to another bird or the noise a plane makes. Theft By Finding by David Sedaris

I've used this advice many times since I first started journaling in 2013. If I don't know what to write about, I'll look around and write about something that piques my interest.

While this may not directly produce the most insightful journal entry, it does help get my brain moving. Oftentimes, it's much easier to write down something worthwhile when you already started with something insignificant.

💡 By the way : Do you find it hard to be happy and in control of your life? It may not be your fault. If you want to start feeling better, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet to help you be more in control. 👇

hugo huijer

Being Happy Is Freaking Hard!

But it doesn't have to be! These 10 tips will protect you from anything that's trying to steal your happiness!

7 journaling ideas to get started

If you're ready to start writing, here are 7 journaling ideas that will help you get started. You obviously don't have to pick all of them. Instead, try one of these whenever you feel like you don't know what to write in your journal.

I know, I know. Everybody in the world - and their granny - is talking about gratitude. Practicing gratitude is supposed to be this life hack that instantaneously puts a smile on your face. Or at least, that's what all these articles about gratitude will have you believe.

Here are some things you should know about gratitude:

Practicing gratitude has been linked to a direct increase in happiness of 10%, as found by studies. We've covered those in this article about the powerful relationship between gratitude and happiness .

10% may not seem like much, and I somewhat agree, as a 10% increase won't fix all the problems in your life. However, the main benefit here is that you can "be grateful" whenever you set your mind to it.

And a journal just so happens to be the perfect place to express gratitude.

How can you do so? It's super simple, actually. Just ask yourself what you are thankful for , and write it down. By spending just 5 minutes a day doing this simple exercise, you'll be experiencing the full benefits of practicing gratitude.

It's not as if you'll directly notice your increased mood. Practicing gratitude won't stop your car from breaking down, and neither will it stop you from experiencing stress at work. But by focusing on what you're grateful for, you can focus on positivity rather than negativity .

If you need more examples of gratitude, here you go !

If you're having a shitty day, journaling about what's keeping you down is the perfect remedy. Since I started journaling in 2013, I've written dozens of pages filled with rants, curses, irritating thoughts, and crushed dreams.

While it may sound counterintuitive, writing about all the negative things you're dealing with can actually lift your spirits.

Have you ever experienced stressful moments where you can't get a grip on your mind? No matter what you do, you keep worrying about dozens of problems at once.

By actually writing these down in your journal, you'll notice that your brain starts to relax. By giving these negative thoughts a place to go wild, you'll stop them from turning your mind into a chaotic mess.

One of our readers said it more elegantly:

I found that writing about my emotional state and describing issues in detail forces me to confront them and take the time to deconstruct them. This usually allows me to understand the issue, and that calms the chaos in my head. You can think of this as clearing the RAM in your system. Sanjay (one of our readers)

Not only will this journaling tip help you sleep at night, but it will also give you some interesting journal entries to look back at in a few years.

I experienced this firsthand when I re-read some of my older journal entries to find them filled with rants. And I mean, pages upon pages of annoying rants.

It helps me realize that I'm just human, and makes me appreciate how much I've grown over the years .

Something I do - and have done every single day since 2013 - is answer this question:

On a scale from 1 to 100, how would you rate your happiness?

If you don't know what to write in a journal, I highly recommend you try this method. It will help you think about how your day actually went. Are you feeling happy today, and if so, why exactly? This will help you turn your thoughts into words.

There's another big benefit to this method. By rating your happiness every day, you'll become much more self-aware of how your mental health is impacted by the things that happen to you.

If you're a nerd like me, it will also allow you to find trends and correlations in your data. Are you happier on weekends? Are you more frustrated when you have to work late?

If you want to read more about tracking happiness, here's a better description of the method .

We've also written an entire article about how to journal for self-awareness here .

I know a lot of people use their journals to keep track of their goals . No matter how big or small they are, a journal can help you stay accountable to yourself.

So if you like to write your journal in the morning, you might want to try to list a couple of goals that you want to reach that day. For example, your goals can be:

If you're like me and prefer to journal before going to bed, you can list your goals for the next day.

Setting smaller goals is a good way to make sure that you’re working towards something and not just coasting through your days on autopilot. 

You can set goals in whatever area of life you like and they can be short-term or long-term . But remember, good goals are always specific and measurable. 

A goal without a plan is a daydream. Rick Conlow

By using your journal to track your goals, you'll also be more inclined to be successful in the things you want to accomplish. We've published an article specifically about journaling for success here!

Whenever I don't know what to write in my journal, I do something that I call "filling in the blanks" .

This means that I try to write about a personal memory from years ago, way before I started to keep a journal. For example, I've written about the following memories in my journal:

These are all memories that I hold dear to my heart. By writing them down in my journal, I'm filling in the blank pages of my life. By doing so, I get to "immortalize" my memories, while also practicing gratitude for all the good things I have in my life.

If you want to know more about this journaling idea, here's an article I wrote about how I remember my memories in a journal .

Here's another creative way to write in your journal when you don't know what to write about.

This one is called future self journaling , and it means writing a letter to your future self. This can be either extremely funny or confrontational.

For example, I wrote myself a journal entry that I had to read on October 11, 2015.

Dear Hugo, today is the day that you’ll (hopefully) have finished the Eindhoven marathon. If so, then that’s AWESOME. If you managed to finish within 4 hours, BRAVO. But even if you didn’t finish it at all, just remember why you signed up in the first place: to challenge yourself, both physically and mentally. Just know that you really challenged yourself and did your best, so you should be great either way! Letter to my future self

This one was extremely funny to re-read. It was my first ever marathon, and I had made the rookie mistake to have extremely high expectations . I finished in 4 hours and 22 minutes, but I finished nonetheless! This letter to my future self helped me appreciate what I accomplished and made me proud of myself .

How can you use this in your own journal?

So if you don't know what to write in your journal, why not try this simple idea?

The last journaling idea on this list is perhaps the easiest of all. If you don't know what to write in a journal, use a simple journal prompt and go from there.

A journal prompt is a simple statement designed to inspire you or offer you an idea of what to write about. Following a journal prompt might help you release some of your creativity, even if you're not big on writing.

Here are some examples of journal prompts:

My advice is to start your journal entry by simply copying one of these prompts at the top of the page. Start answering the prompt, and you'll probably find it easier to continue writing, even if it diverges from the initial prompt that got you started.

There are ultimately many more journal ideas that will help you when you don't know what to write about. I tried to give you the most creative and meaningful methods to help you become more self-aware.

One final tip that I want to give you is to resist the urge to edit whatever you wrote down.

Journaling is about writing freely. So, don’t worry about grammatically incorrect phrases, run-on sentences, or incorrect spelling.

This is not a graded essay. You won’t receive likes or comments the way you do in your diary-like status on Facebook. This is for your eyes only, so don’t be too conscious about what you’re writing and how you’re writing it.

As long as you understand what you wrote and you can reread your journal whenever you need to, then that’s good enough!

💡 By the way : If you want to start feeling better and more productive, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

Download Our FREE Mental Self-Care Cheat Sheet!

I hope these journal ideas will help you when you don't know what to write next time you open your diary. By using one of these tips, you'll turn your thoughts into meaningful journal entries that will help you become more self-aware and happy.

Do you want to share one of your favorite journal ideas? Was there anything I missed? Or do you disagree with something I said? Let me know what you think in the comments below!


Hi! I'm from the Netherlands, love skateboarding, ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). I consider myself to be a data junkie and have tracked my happiness for over 10 years.

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2 thoughts on “7 Things to Write in Your Journal (For Positivity and Growth)”

Thank you for this helpful article! I've been journaling for about a decade now, but I've felt like my more recent journal entries have consisted mostly of "negative" feelings. So this was very helpful to read!

Thanks, I'm happy this article has helped you, Kristi!

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Filling the Jars

How To Write A Daily Journal Even If You’re A Total Beginner

For adults, learning how to write a daily journal presents a huge opportunity… and maybe lots of questions about how it all works. First of all, it’s not as difficult as you may fear, especially with the tips from this article and some handy creative journaling exercises . 

Plus, considering how much there is on our plate every day, this is one piece of the puzzle that shouldn’t be neglected!

Text how to write a daily journal for beginners on white background over image of woman with long dark hair wearing a sweater and glasses sitting at a table and writing.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This post is not to be taken as professional medical or mental health advice. All statements are strictly my personal life observations. You can see my full disclaimer here .

Are you wondering… 

How should you choose what to write about?

You’ll find answers to these questions (and more) with this guide for writing a daily journal, so let’s get started!

What Is Daily Journal Writing?

Okay, so maybe you’ve read little snippets about all these successful people who say the biggest turning point in their life was when they started journaling every.single.day. 

Suddenly, they got clarity on everything. Their whole life fell into alignment. They started making more money. Their relationships got better. Their kids started behaving. All of a sudden their house was clean and clutter-free. And basically, everything became magical.

Yeah… first of all, don’t believe everything you read. LOL

But second of all, daily journaling actually can help you. Because all that stuff that’s swirling around in your head? Your journal becomes a place to put it all and let it rest. And that DOES help with clarity and CAN feel kind of magical if it helps you get a little more control or feel less overwhelmed. 

So let’s talk today about how you can do a personal daily journal — because you’ll never know if it works for you unless you try!

How To Write A Daily Journal Entry

Find a comfortable place to write.

Whether that’s at your desk, in bed, or away from your house — find somewhere you’re not obligated to be anywhere else and can take the time to sit down and concentrate for a while each day.

Journaling Sessions

It can be helpful to journal in the same place and time every day, like after dinner or at breakfast. 

This will help make it a routine that becomes second nature and something we don’t have to think about doing. It becomes just part of our daily lives which promotes mindfulness (which is great for reducing stress).

How? If it helps, set an alarm so you don’t forget!

Give Yourself An Idea Of What The Journal Is Going To Be About

Whether it’s for just the next day or for several months, think about why you want to start writing. Let that guide your thoughts as they come up and you journal throughout the days ahead.

If there are things on your mind like fears, regrets, hopes — these may all become important topics that you could decide to deeply explore. 

Or maybe you want to use your daily journal to help you achieve certain goals.

If you have several ideas of what you want from your journal, set aside a page toward the front and use bullet points to make a list. That way you can easily go back through everything later when it comes time for reflection and closure on various topics.

Find A Journal That Doesn’t Intimidate You

Of course you want this journaling experience to feel special, but you don’t want the fear of ‘messing up’ a new journal to stop you from doing this. Try one of these best journals for writing .

What To Write In A Daily Journal

I recommend that you write about anything and everything. That might sound a little daunting at first, but the point of journaling is to be completely honest with yourself. That means all your thoughts and feelings are fair game. From ‘How do I feel about work?’ to ‘What happened in this dream last night?’

Still stuck for ideas? Start here:

Write Down Your Goals Each Day

Woman with long dark hair wearing a sweater and glasses sitting at a table to do daily journal writing.

When thinking about how to write a daily journal, think about what your goals are for the day or week. How will writing in your journal help you achieve these? Make a note of them as well in this part of your journal and refer to it each evening before bedtime.

At night when we’re in bed with our thoughts racing and time dragging by, we can read over the notes from that day’s entry and see if there is anything else on our mind that needs to be taken care of tomorrow. The next morning, all those scattered pieces will come together as you plan out how to accomplish everything you wanted to do yesterday but didn’t get around to doing.

Use Words As Inspiration

How? Keep a running list of words that catch your attention. They can be new-to-you words or old favorites.

It’s fun to use single words as writing prompts. Or, if you come up with an entire group of words, it might even spark ideas for poems or songs!

Try Journaling Prompts

If you are looking for helpful sparks for how to write a daily journal, there are journaling prompts that can be really helpful for getting started.

Here’s are some examples:

Here are a few more options:

How Often Should You Write In Your Journal And For How Long?

Every day is best. If that’s too difficult or overwhelming, start with a more manageable time — such as quiet Sunday mornings. Add days as you feel more capable. Do your best to make sure you’re consistent!

How To Find Time Each Day To Write In Your  Daily Journal

The best way to find time each day to write in your journal is to establish the habit as part of your routine. How you do this will depend on what type of schedule you keep, but there are three basic ways to make time for journaling:

How long you write is completely up to you. You can journal for as little as 5 minutes, as long as an hour, or anywhere in between. Most people find about 15-20 minutes is long enough to get their most important thoughts out and feel like they’ve had a productive journaling session.

How Can You Make Sure That Your Journaling Is Productive?

One of the worst things that can happen to a journaler is that it becomes just another task on the to-do list. How can you prevent that?

Focus on what makes these sessions important to you personally. 

Journal with purpose — don’t stare at a blank page. If the words won’t flow, write about THAT — or mix it up with some creative ways to journal . You’ll find some pretty interesting things tend to emerge. 😉 

Turn it into part of your self-care routine.

List out some goals beforehand — how often and how long you will journal, what you expect to write about every day, what you hope journaling will do for you, etc.

Having these ideas in place will give you a reason to journal… which makes it something you look forward to doing. If you feel like it’s becoming a chore, and you’ve been at it for at least a month, step back and re-examine your goals and expectations.

Options For Journal Writing

Woman in shorts and green tank top sitting by pool while writing in a daily journal.

Journals and Notebooks With Lined or Dotted Pages

There’s something about putting pen to paper that sparks creativity or taps deep thoughts we may not have felt before when typing words on a screen. Plus, the dot grid versions are great for sketching out ideas if you want an outlet for your artistic side too.

These come blank so it’s up to you what type of notebook suits your needs best — from spiral-bound notebooks perfect for everyday use, compact options that fit easily inside purses or back pockets, to luxurious leather journals where you can record your most treasured memories.

Digital Journaling

If you’re more of a techy person and find it easier to write in an online format instead — this is the perfect way to keep up with those daily reflections while also taking advantage of all the features digital journals have like highlighting text or uploading photos. There are several journaling apps available — find one that works best for you. 

Creative Journaling

If the idea of ‘just writing’ every day makes your eye twitch, you may be more interested in how to write a creative journal . There is so much freedom in being creative, even when writing! One of these creative writing journals could be exactly what you’re looking for. 

Gratitude Journals

One of the most popular types of journaling is a gratitude journal. It’s like your own personal happy list where you write down everything that made you grateful or just gave you happiness during the day.

It can be as simple as things like ‘the smell in my kitchen when I came home from work’ to more complex thoughts about’ how living through the recession helped me become the person I am today,’ or ‘how my friends are always there for me when times get tough.’

It’s a great way to start our day off on a positive note with something to remind us of all that is good in life. It also helps release stress from earlier thoughts too, so it can be a good way to wind down at the end of the day.

Try these printable gratitude prompts to get you started.  

Final Thoughts

Here’s one final tip on the topic of how to write a daily journal: Don’t feel the need to be perfect! 

Scribble out words. Write in cursive some days and print on others. Grab a half-used notebook leftover from your kid’s previous school year to start if that’s all you have. Practice, adapt… and RELAX!

Keep things fresh so you’re actually excited about daily journaling as you Build Your Best Life.

You’ve got this!

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2 thoughts on “How To Write A Daily Journal Even If You’re A Total Beginner”

I am a long time journaler and over time I have found the biggest help journaling has given me is the ability to process my feelings and thoughts before they come out of my mouth. I have been so upset with people, only to turn to my journal and realize it wasn’t the snippy woman at the office, but my sister I was really upset with. That has helped me let go of petty noise in my head and really think about the root of my discontent. I have journals that are full of all sorts of things. Thank you for this post!

I love to journal, but I don’t do it nearly enough. I can relate to what you said about not having too intimidating of a journal. I’ve always struggled with that a bit because I love pretty journals so much, but I do have a perfectionism issue. When I was young, I just used spiral notebooks and wrote and wrote. I still have those, and they are treasures (and funny, too!) Thanks for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things party!

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What Are Journal Entries and How To Write Them?

Do you need a place to jot down your thoughts? Writing entries in a journal can help you to turn your thoughts into words. The topics that you write in journal entries can be a daily reflection, weekly gratitude or even an opinion that is stuck in your mind. Unlike micro-blogging on blog and in social media, the great thing about writing in a journal is that it is private. No one can see what you write in a journal!

So, what exactly are journal entries?

A handsome man holding a journal book.

Journal entries are individual pieces of writing that forms your personal journal. They can be as short as a caption to as long as 500-1000 words entry. You can freely express each of the entry with thoughts, rants, reflections, and pour out feelings.

4 Tips for Writing Journal Entries

If you have decided what to write about, how to frame your entry, and determine when to write, you will find that you’ll have a much easier time writing a journal entry. However, sometimes you might find it difficult to start a journal entry due to writer's block . One way to overcome writer's block is through streams of consciousness writing . You are just jotting down the first thoughts that come into your mind, no matter how senseless they sound. This is an effective way to get started!

Open a blank journal entry.

From gratitude journal entries, travel journal entries, to dream journal entries, here are some other creative ways to get you started.

1. Write a List

Lists are an easy way to get you started. You can write a to-do list of things you want to accomplish over the days or year. You can start an entry by bullet listing different things such as personal goals and things that you have achieved at that moment.

2. Use a Photo

Journey allows you to add pictures to your journal entries. If you find it difficult to write, you can add a picture and write about what it means to you. It can be a picture of a special moment, your loved ones, your pets or places you have visited. Use this image to get you started.

Top view camera with pictures in a photo entry.

3. Reflect on an Inspirational Quote

Journey updates journal prompts in the app daily to inspire and motivate you to succeed. Take a moment to reflect on the inspirational quotes and write your thoughts in your journal.

4. Write a Memory

Photos in journal entry.

Write a memory that you find important and worthwhile to remember in the future. It can be something you think about often. Describe that memory and what it means to you. How did it make you feel at that time?

The best way to get started with your first journal entry is to download Journey and begin writing using this app. It is easy-to-use, private and secure. All your posts are dated and saved, so all you need to worry about it what to write. Use this list and get started today!

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Get access to your diary wherever you are – download the free Journey app for your all of your iOS and Android devices today!

Focus on the positive things in your live.

Write one line a day for the next five years.

A bible journal is one that holds your thoughts and reflections after a religion class and feelings that concerns life.

Record your dreams on a regular basis and keep track of the dream's themes and patterns.

Document your adventures, road trips, places that you have visited, and discoveries that you made along the way.

A self-reflective journal helps you to create your life with intention.

Write a personalized experience of your pregnancy journey.

Equip yourself with on a journey towards improving your sleep

Keep a log of all your daily meals to ensure a balanced nature diet.

Streams of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning.

A way to organize your time and your life

Create your own faithful digital planning companion

Find the planner for you

Make every week your best week

Start your digital journal - download Journey app today!

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52 Simple Daily Journal Prompts

Boy writing journal using prompt

Journaling is a wonderfully meditative practice. It helps you reflect on your day, plan for the future, and get creative juices flowing for more directed writing. If you need specific topics to inspire you, keep reading for a collection of daily journal prompts.

Reflective Journal Prompts

Sometimes it feels like we had a bad day, but we can’t figure out why. Reflective journaling at the end of the day can help you make sense of what went wrong – and what went right! Try out these prompts to finish your day reflectively.

Aspirational Journal Prompts

Putting your dreams and wishes on paper probably won’t make them real. But using them as journal prompts can help you learn more about yourself, and help get your pencil moving. Check out these ideas for aspirational journal prompts:

What Would You Do? Journal Prompts

It may seem like you can respond to these questions in one sentence. But if you really think about each answer, and what happens next, you’ll find that the answers aren’t quite so simple. Put some hypotheticals into your writing with these prompts that ask you “What would you do?”

Letter Journal Prompts

Have you ever wanted to tell someone what you really thought? Use these journaling prompts to write letters to people who know, people you’ve never met – and even yourself. When you’re done, you can keep them safe in your journal, or send them to their intended recipients.

Memory Journal Prompts

Memories can be fun to write about. Other memories can be more painful. But when we write about our memories, we can process moments in a very concrete way. Try out these prompts to write about your warm, exciting, or difficult memories.

The Power of Journaling

These 52 prompts are a great place to start if you’re in the mood to write. You can adapt any of them into personal essays, or keep them as a type of literary time capsule. To bring journaling into the classroom, check out an article with tips for teaching students how to journal .


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