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How to Start Journaling: 50 Incredibly Effective Tips for Beginners

Are you interested in journaling, but don’t know where to start? Here are fifty truly effective tips for launching your journal habit. These ideas are perfect even for absolute beginners!

New to journaling?

Tried it, but didn’t keep up the habit?

Don’t quite “get” the point of writing down your thoughts?

Here are 50 truly effective tips that will not only get you into the journaling habit but will ensure that you get something out of the experience!

Pick and choose the tips you like best and try them out in any order that you feel works for you.

Then try some of the ideas that feel less comfortable – because stepping out of your comfort zone is where growth happens.

Journaling is a safe way to leave your comfort zone and explore your inner self because your journal is just for you. Don’t share it with anyone, or you may find yourself editing it in ways that are not authentic.

This is your time to be real, honest, and raw with just one person – YOU!

Read about Mental self-care for women Over 50

closeup of open journal filled with blue pen writing and pencil drawings

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50 Effective Journaling Tips for Absolute Beginners

  1. Journal daily for best results. This allows you to document things in much more detail.
  2. You don’t have to write pages or chapters, just a few sentences will do.
  3. Journal when your mind is at ease so you can focus. This may be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or the last thing you do at night. Choose the time that works for you.
  4. Record more than just your thoughts. Include your feelings, and also the sights, sounds, and smells around you. What color was the sky? Did you smell fresh-cut grass? What was the person wearing? Be descriptive.
  5. Write about where you are in life at this moment.
  6. Write about how you got to this moment in life and where you see yourself going from here.
  7. Don’t worry about using correct grammar, full sentences, or punctuation. Just let the thoughts flow.
  8. Don’t censor your thoughts or feelings. Write your truth it as you see, think, and feel it.
  9. Create a gratitude journal for all the things you are grateful for. Read through it to brighten your day when you’re feeling lost or down.
  10. Include more than just words. Photos, drawings, stickers, poems, quotes, scriptures, mementos, and more can be added to really personalize your journal.
  11. Journal about your successes and failures. It will bring you much insight.
  12. When trying to solve a problem, write it down in the third person so you see it from a new perspective.
  13. Don’t just surface-write. Tap into your deeper emotions and thoughts to get the most benefit from your efforts.
  14. Pen and paper are much more effective for journaling than using digital devices.
  15. If pen and paper just don’t work for you, then go the digital route. It’s better than not journaling at all.
  16. Set time or length limits, at least at first. Start with 2 minutes or one page and work your way to the point where you feel most comfortable. Once you get into a groove, aim for 10-15 minutes of journaling each day.
  17. Do not edit. The whole point of journaling is to explore your mind and document your thoughts. Editing stops the natural flow of your writing.
  18. Add a memorable title and date for each entry.
  19. Keep your journal in a secure location to ease your mind about writing private things.
  20. Journal in the same location every day. This might be your dining room table, your bed, or your favorite coffee shop.
  21. Leave room for a table of contents. Once your journal is complete, you can add it at that time. This will allow you to quickly find what you are looking for when you want to reference your journal entries.
  22. If you struggle to journal, try a different method. If you’re currently using an app, see if pen and paper will work better. Change the time or location you write in your journal to see if that helps. Try a ready-made journal, or change your subject matter.
  23. Make a list of writing prompts to help when you feel you have nothing to write about.
  24. If you are short on time, make note of the most important details and come back to finish the writing later.
  25. Take your journal everywhere you go. You never know when an inspiring thought will come.
  26. Journal about anything that is important to you; people, places, ideas, books, poetry, what you eat each day, etc.
  27. Add new words to your journal. Select a word and see if you can use it in your journal for the day.
  28. If necessary, create a starter phrase and use it time and again. “It all started….”
  29. Get creative. Add fun, silly thoughts to your journal. You don’t always have to be serious.
  30. No matter how you feel, try to find a way to write every day. Write when you’re sick, when you’re happy, when your sad, and even when you’re tired or hung over.
  31. Are you working towards something big? If so, document your progress.
  32. Use your journal to plan future events. Planning a vacation? Getting married?
  33. Document your goals and your progress as you work towards them.
  34. Record details such as conversations, time, date, location, the weather, your mood, and your reactions to experiences to give context to your thoughts.
  35. Use your journal to document your bucket list(s).
  36. Journal about things that make you feel good or feel bad.
  37. Journal your most secret thoughts, dreams, and ideas.
  38. Journal about others in your life; your friends, family, co-workers, pets, etc.
  39. Document lessons you’ve learned.
  40. Journal about the dreams you have at night as well as your dreams and aspirations.
  41. Never miss more than a few days of journaling at one time. It could create a stall that might last much longer.
  42. Keep your journal within sight so you can write things down as they come to you.  
  43. Become one with nature. Grab your journal and take a walk. Stop somewhere safe and quiet to document the sights and sounds around you.
  44. Before you start writing, relax and breathe deeply. Clear your mind of everything except what you plan to write about at that moment.
  45. Use a timer if necessary to take the pressure of having to write off your shoulders.
  46. When trying to solve a problem, consider the outcomes of each scenario. If that happens, then what? If it doesn’t happen, what then? If it happens another way, how will that affect things? How likely is this to happen?
  47. At times, you may want to conduct a total mind dump. When this happens just start writing. Don’t worry if it makes sense, just write everything that comes to mind. You’ll feel like a new person getting those thoughts off of your mind and you can explore individual pieces of the mind dump at a later time if you feel like it.
  48. Consider writing “Top Ten” lists. “Top 10 Things I Worry About”, “Top 10 Things I Love About Myself” and so forth.
  49. Don’t forget to include perspective. Consider things from a different point of view. This may be reflecting back on past events in a new light, considering how another person feels, or imagining how things might look, feel or be different in the future.
  50. Be authentic. Journaling is for your own well-being. Don’t be scared to share your core values, your joy, and love, your spirituality, creativity, fears, likes, and dislikes.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

William Wordsworth
open journal filled with writing using 50 journaling tips for beginners

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Final Thoughts on How to Start Journaling: 50 Incredibly Effective Tips for Beginners

Now that your mind is swirling with ideas and inspiration, grab a pen and a notebook and start writing!

Journaling is not only beneficial to your emotional well-being, but one of the cheapest and easiest activities to start.

Which is your favorite in this huge list of tips? Let me know in the comments below!

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