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Illustrated journaling, bullet journaling, self-care, and more.

Journaling is a great way to privately explore your inner thoughts and feelings through writing. But, a blank page can feel intimidating, and it can be tough to make a journaling habit stick. 

We’re here to help with some tips for how to write a journal and some prompts to inspire you to keep going. 

What Is Journaling?

Journaling is a flexible and creative activity.
Journaling is a flexible and creative activity. 

Looking for a simple journal meaning? According to the dictionary, it’s “a daily record of personal events.” That doesn’t mean it needs to be a detailed time log of your daily activities, though. Rather, journaling is a flexible and creative activity that involves writing down your thoughts, feelings, goals, experiences, and more. 

What’s the Point?

Think journaling is a waste of time? Think again. Journaling can help us organize our lives and thoughts and even improve our memory.

The Benefits of Journaling

Research has shown that putting pen to paper can help us feel better in so many ways. It helps us clear our brains, process our emotions, and practice mindfulness. Who doesn’t need a few quiet moments to themselves every now and then? 

If some dedicated time for self-care isn’t enough to convince you, journaling also helps both our physical and mental health. When it comes to physical health, people who journal have lower blood pressure, lower stress, and better liver function. Journaling also boosts your immune system and even helps your chances of fighting asthma and arthritis.

Plus, journaling might even boost your career and help you land a new gig. A 2017 study discovered that unemployed professionals assigned to write about their job loss were employed quicker than those who did not write at all.

What Is a Journal (and What Could it Be)? 

You might think a journal is the same as a diary, but that doesn’t have to be the case. The kind of journal writing you do depends on your goal: you can write daily entries of your life, dabble in creative writing, or jot down religious thoughts with Bible journaling. You could even organize your life with bullet journaling or tap into your artistic side with art journaling.

If you’re wondering, “What is art journaling?” the explanation is in the name itself: It’s a combination of art and journaling. You could create a journal that is mostly full of art or something that looks more like a traditional journal with some art and doodles included.

When it comes to journaling, there are no hard and fast rules. Your journal can be anything you want it to be. 

How to Get Started Journaling 

Step 1: Make Space for Yourself

The practice of journaling requires a commitment to yourself. But don’t be intimidated—it doesn’t need to be a huge chunk of time or even a daily practice. You can start by writing a sentence a day or by carving out an hour each week.

Regardless of how much time you put in, it’ll be worth it. And as you continue making time for yourself, journaling will slowly become a regular habit. 

Step 2: Get a Notebook for Journaling

You can use any kind of notebook you want as your journal.
You can use any kind of notebook you want as your journal. 

Next, you need something to write in. You can buy a lined notebook to record your thoughtsor a journal with blank pages that has plenty of room for doodles.

You really don’t need anything more than paper and pencil, but you add special items to your collection to make self journaling more fun, such as: 

  • Colored pencils
  • Colored pens
  • Ruler
  • Stickers

If you want, you can even keep a digital notebook on your iPad or phone. It’s your journal, so do what suits you best. 

Step 3: Start Journaling and Make it a Habit

Now that you have all of your supplies, it’s time to get started! As we said before, you can write as much or as little as you want as you begin journaling. The trick is to keep consistently writing over time so you make it a habit. 

Remember, you have the opportunity to write about anything you want. You can pull ideas from your imagination or rant about your day at work. Just don’t let a lack of creative ideas prevent you from picking up the pen. Before you find yourself staring at a blank page wondering how to start journaling, we have some journaling prompts to help.

5 Journal Prompts to Keep You Going

If you find yourself stumped about what to write, you aren’t alone. Everyone deals with writer’s block. Fortunately, we’ve pulled together five journaling prompts to use any time you need journal entry ideas.

Writing from a quote is a low-pressure way to start journaling.
Writing from a quote is a low-pressure way to start journaling. 

1. Write From a Quote

We all have quotes that resonate with us. You might have a quote hanging on your wall or see one that piques your interest as you’re scrolling through Instagram. Choose a quote that you relate to and write about how you connect with it. 

Skillshare instructor Yasmine Cheyenne advises asking questions that will help you dig into your thoughts, like: 

  • How does this make you feel? 
  • What happened when I heard this quote? 
  • What happened when I read that excerpt from that book? 
  • What happened when I heard someone say something on TV that really spoke to me?

2. Create Lists

Journaling doesn’t always need to be free-flowing thoughts and ideas. A list can be a fun way to lift your spirits or an intentional practice to help you reflect. You can make a list out of anything, including:

  • Your favorite memories
  • Places you’d like to travel to
  • Your favorite books
  • Your top goals for the year
  • Things you’ve accomplished in the past month
  • What you love most about your life
  • Hobbies you’d like to try

3. Reflect on Your Life

Writing about your life, everything from favorite memories to difficult times, helps you reflect on and process your past. Contemplating previous events in your daily journal might help you remember details about your past that you haven’t thought about in years. Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling:

  • Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
  • What event do you remember most from your childhood?
  • What’s one regret you have from the past year?
  • What’s one accomplishment that you’re most proud of? 

During the pandemic, many people turned to journaling to log their daily thoughts and consider how their lives have changed. If that’s interesting to you, consult the Pandemic Project for specific prompts on writing about how COVID-19 affected your life.

4. Write Down a Challenge

If you’re working toward a goal—large or small—breaking it down into small, feasible tasks in your writing journal can make it feel more achievable. 

“You can write down a list of daily challenges and ask yourself: Does this make me scared? Does this make me uncomfortable?” says Skillshare instructor Austin Chan.

Start off small with a feasible challenge you can achieve every day so you don’t get discouraged. For instance, if you want to start walking 10,000 steps daily, start small by reaching 1,000 steps a day, and logging that challenge and your progress in your journal. 

Other challenges you could add to your list include complimenting a stranger or spending one hour a day reading. 

5. Ask “If” Questions

No idea what to write? That’s okay! Jog your imagination by answering an “if” question each day.

A few examples to get you started:

  • If you could have dinner with anyone, who would you choose and why?
  • If you could go back in time, what time period would you go to and why?
  • If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
  • If you could live in a fictional world, which would you choose and why?
  • If you could relive one event in your life, what one would you choose and why? 
  • If you knew today was your last day, what would you do and why? 

Are your wheels turning about all of the topics you could journal about? All that’s left to do is grab your notebook and pen and get started. 

Start Journaling!

Creative Writing for All: A 10-Day Journaling Challenge