Home » How To Start A Journal – And Why You Should Start Journaling Now

How To Start A Journal – And Why You Should Start Journaling Now

How To Start A Journal – And Why You Should Start Journaling Now


“I don’t want to live in a hand-me-down world of others’ experiences. I want to write about me, my discoveries, my fears, my feelings, about me.”  – Helen Keller

Have you ever thought about journaling and how to start a journal?

To be honest, I have had this odd ‘love-hate’ sort of relationship with journaling. I’ve always kept a journal (as you can see, I love to write!) and don’t get me wrong, I love it more than I hate it.

There are days when I love jotting down my thoughts and ideas. On other days, I’d avoid it like a plague to the point that I’d stick it in the bedroom drawer so I don’t have to see it for a while..  and then, only to go back and reconcile with it again.

Strange? Yes, I agree. 

Helpful article on how to start a journal - and why you should start journaling now.But no matter what your ‘relationship’ is to your journal (if you’ve already started one), I hope I’ll get you thinking with this post. I’ve also gathered some helpful tips on how to start a journal.. and why you should start one.

If you’ve been wanting to start a journal and just don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place!

Start A Journal How To

So, why should you journal?

What do you benefit from journaling?

Well, everyone has their own reasons why they keep a journal. The most obvious reason is that it’s a way to put your thoughts down. It’s totally healthy to relay all your thoughts, ideas, dreams, ambitions, or worries onto paper. And you guys, it’s backed by science!  Read on to find out.My favorite journal - Simplified Journal by Emily LeyFirst, find the right journal for you. This is where it all starts. Picking out the perfect journal to start this journey. There are many incredible choices it hard to choose the right one. For the last couple years, I’ve been using the Simplified Journal by Emily Ley. It’s an astounding journal, whether you’re a first-timer or you’ve been journaling for years! This 100-page journal is a simple journal to use. It has a great layout for journaling, prayers, letters to little ones, brain dumps, big thoughts and great ideas. It’s not bulky and does not weigh a ton, and you can personalize it with your initials and make it yours!

Your journal is your best friend. Take your journal everywhere with you. There will be times you are not able to take it with you. When you have an idea or a thought you want to expand on, grab a scrap piece of paper, a napkin, or anything to write it down. Always be sure you transfer those into your journal when your able to. Getting too many extra pieces of paper can get overwhelming, so I would update your journal at least once a week.

Handwrite in your journal. Handwriting spontaneously in your journal will help you identify your emotional state especially when you go back and re-read your journal. You will easily be able to tell by your handwriting how you were feeling that day when you wrote it. Handwriting in your journal has many benefits. It helps you from becoming distracted. If you journal on your computer, it’s too convenient and you get too distracted checking or logging in to your social media pages or checking your email. By handwriting, you have just your pen and paper. Nothing to make your mind wondering in other directions!

Also, by handwriting you can use your favorite pen! I love writing on my journal with my incredible pens from Marvy Le Pen. They’re stylish, sleek and comfortable to hold. The colors are bold and make writing legible. The best feature is: these pens do not bleed through to the other side of the paper. Of course, find the pen for journaling that best suits you.. there are aplenty on Amazon, or at any office supply store near you!

Th e Simplified Journal by Emily Ley encourages my self-expression and creativity!

Leave a few blank pages open. When you start journaling, it’s best to leave a few blank pages in the beginning. Once you start writing and get close to the end of the journal, you can go back and highlight the entries that you know will reference back too. By leaving blanks pages you can write “cheats” to know exactly where to find those entries. Mina Murray, from Dracula, quoted, “Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” Let your blank pages help you listen to where to find your thoughts.

Don’t worry about grammar, just write. This is your journal, not the dictionary! You will not be graded on this. Does that give you any relief? It should, it’s the truth. Your journal is the place where you can capture your inspiration or idea quickly, in which ever way you choose. Write it down before it’s lost forever. Your journal, your thoughts, your grammar. Period.

Make the time. If you are serious about journaling, which I am guessing you are if you’re still reading this article, you need to set some time aside for journaling. I’m not talking hours upon hours, but maybe 10-30 minutes a day, give yourself that time to write. Some days may be easier to find the time, some maybe harder, but consistency is more effective and beneficial if you take time each day.

Why journaling is good for your health and emotional well-being.. click the image and read on for more!

Journaling does good for your health. Believe it or not,  journaling brings you clarity, reduces stress, helps you get through stressful situations and can help with your overall emotional well-being.

This study from the PsychCentral also has a helpful list of health benefits of journaling.

So, what is left? You have your journal, your pen, and simplified tips to start! But oh, I’m not done just yet. I want to give you a list of things you can include in your journal to get you started.  Now, it’s not mandatory that you follow this list, after all, this journal is about you and your thoughts. These are merely suggestions and starters if you don’t know exactly where to begin.

  • Goals – What do you want to accomplish in a year? 5 years? 10 years?
  • Poetry – Why do you like these poems? Does it involve a memory?
  • Inspiring Quotes – List of your favorites (this can be an ongoing entry)
  • Music – Favorite songs, lines from songs. How does it make you feel?
  • Books – Favorite books, or a “Want to Read” list.
  • Pictures – Cut out pictures of things you love, or somewhere you want to travel (I do this all the time!)
  • Websites – New sites to explore
  • Reactions – Personal situations, world events
  • Daily – Reflection of how your feeling
  • Family – Write about your loved ones. Memorable times, silly stories, special occasions.
  • Lists – Top 10, Top 20
  • Travel – Favorite vacations, dream vacation
  • Movies – Favorites, actors/actresses.. how do they portray their characters?
  • Dos & Don’ts – of any subject
  • Jokes – What makes you laugh?
  • Write a letter – to your past and your future
  • Admire – Who do you admire? Why?

All the information can seem overwhelming, but just take a day at time.

Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley

By the way, I’ve been reading Emily Ley’s amazing book, Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy ( shhh, it’s on my “Want To Read Books in 2017” in my journal).  I rarely write a review on self-help books, but this one is really amazing! This book gives women perceptible ways to simplify their lives to give space to what matters most.  It’s a great read, especially if you’re journaling!

Journaling does allow you to put your thoughts all over the place, yet it’s also about simplifying your life.. allowing yourself to put words down on paper so you can embrace, celebrate and enjoy your life!

So do you keep a journal? Why or why not? Or, after reading this article, do you think you’ll start your own journal soon?  I’d love to hear your thoughts,  so tell me in the comments! 

*This post contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Hip Mama’s Place possible! 

Jocelyn Brown
Jocelyn Brown

A former school teacher, Jocelyn Brown created Hip Mama’s Place in 2007. Her motto for this blog is: get inspired, create and share! Jocelyn loves sharing about food and recipes, crafts, DIY projects and her random travels with her family. She also loves all things social media, but her latest obsession is Instagram.

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  1. 02/19/2017 / 2:06 pm

    I guess you could say my blog is my journal now but growing up I would write diaries to help me come to terms with things going on in my life. Everyone should start one!

  2. 02/19/2017 / 4:49 am

    I’ve been keeping a journal for a little while now and I love it. I record little memories of my daughter that I may not remember as she gets older.

  3. Elizabeth O.
    02/19/2017 / 4:33 am

    Journaling is great. It’s a nice outlet especially when you’re emotionally and mentally stressed. It has a pot of benefits.

  4. Rosey
    02/19/2017 / 2:22 am

    My daughter journals. She is a senior in high school and has been doing it for many years!

  5. 02/19/2017 / 1:30 am

    I used to write in a journal but I find I type so much better. The words flow easier when I type. Plus my handwriting is pretty awful.

  6. 02/18/2017 / 2:39 am

    Love a fresh journal. The possibilities are endless!

  7. 02/18/2017 / 12:36 am

    Thank you for the inspiration that leads me to write again. I already have my journal before but cannot find time to start again. Your starter helps a lot and will probably do the writing now. It is very true that journaling reduces my stress and helps me get through stressful situations.

  8. 02/17/2017 / 7:11 pm

    I dont like to write on paper. Those color pens do entice me though.

  9. 02/10/2017 / 7:59 am

    I have kept a diary since childhood but in my teens switched from a diary (of daily occurrences) to solely a Gratitude Journal, my personal favorite is “Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude” by Sarah Ban Breathnach, but I am always open to trying new ones. Some years I like to buy the leather bound ones and I make pockets into them to hold ticket stubs, a dried flower from a bouquet etc. I have enjoyed Gratitude Journaling very much.

  10. 02/09/2017 / 8:59 pm

    I’ve never been much of a journaler, but I started bullet journaling this month and I love it!

  11. 02/06/2017 / 2:42 am

    I love the idea of handwriting in your journal. I always think that I will keep track on my computer but sometimes I don’t have it with me when something inspiring comes up.

  12. 02/05/2017 / 8:08 pm

    I totally agree with all the points that you’ve made in this post! Before the internet, I used to do a lot of journaling and I seriously want to jumpstart that again. Thanks for the added ‘push’, I’m surely going to keep doing this!

  13. 02/04/2017 / 7:16 pm

    I like the idea of writing in a journal everyday or even at the end of every week. It’s a great way to reflect on lessons that you’ve learned. It’s also a nice release, like therapy.

  14. 02/04/2017 / 6:29 pm

    I started a blog because of my love for writing and consider it kind of an online journal. I think it’s fun to look back and see what you have done and why. It really makes life a little more fun.

  15. 02/03/2017 / 10:00 pm

    I used to be an avid journaler but over the last 4 years or so my journal has sat in a drawer for the most part. I occasionally take it out and always feel better when I write in it. I tried the Five Minute Journal recently as a way to get back into journaling but it didn’t work for the way I like to write. Perhaps it’s time to take my old journal out and get to writing.

  16. 02/03/2017 / 5:22 pm

    I always had a journal growing up as a kid. My parents taught me that it was a way to leave a legacy for others, and a way to reflect on just how far you have come. I really need to encourage my kids to do it, and start doing it more regularly myself.

  17. 02/03/2017 / 12:24 pm

    I just started a journal a couple of weeks ago and I’m so glad I did! It’s a great opportunity to reflect on things 🙂

  18. 02/02/2017 / 11:30 pm

    I’ve been thinking that getting into journaling would help me with my organization, creativity and stress…You’ve inspired me to get going!

  19. 02/02/2017 / 11:14 pm

    Not any longer. I jot down ideas in a tablet I have. But really paper and pens don’t exist in my house any longer. Looks so pretty though, love the books.

  20. 02/02/2017 / 10:06 pm

    Before blogging I was a journal-er. Now I am a planner girl which is basically the same thing. I love it and better to look back on memories of thoughts and feeling around that time.

  21. Tereza
    02/02/2017 / 9:27 pm

    I used to love journals but as a full time blogger now I’m writing content every day so at the end of the day I can’t really be writing a journal on top of it (it would be so forced!). Instead my boyfriend and I sometimes do daily summaries to each other – which is great fun and kinda like journaling:) x

  22. 02/02/2017 / 7:43 pm

    I have read that this is a very good thing to do. In some ways my blog is my journal – but not all. I’ve just never been much of a writer. I know, a very odd thing to write for someone with a blog

  23. 02/02/2017 / 6:53 pm

    Trying to get my daughter in the habit of journaling before her trip abroad so that I can get an idea of her daily itinerary while she’s away! I can’t wait to share this post with her and your wonderful tips!

  24. 02/02/2017 / 6:49 pm

    I love good old fashioned paper and pencil, so you would think that journaling would be easy for me. I start with good intentions, and then a couple days in life gets in the way and I don’t pick it up again. I need to make more of a routine and a dedicated time so that it will be more natural. It is so neat to go back and read previous thoughts and remember things that I have forgotten.

  25. 02/02/2017 / 6:07 pm

    This was a great post. I’ve journaled in the past but now I just don’t make time for it. I need to. With 3 little ones, I should be documenting our family as we learn, grow and change.

  26. Sherry
    02/02/2017 / 5:52 pm

    I haven’t kept a journal in years, since before my daughter was born. Life became too busy it seems. I will have to start it again.

  27. 02/02/2017 / 5:51 pm

    I think keeping a journal is a great idea. I find putting my thoughts and feelings on paper helps me a lot.

  28. 02/02/2017 / 2:34 pm

    i used to keep a diary for years. i know it helps me as a kid work through a lot of issues. i stopped when i got a little older, but i coud def start again.

  29. Cat
    02/02/2017 / 5:36 am

    I do journal, but I do it specifically for my health and fitness. It helps me stay accountable, and I am able to look back on days I did well and how to implement that in the future (as well as when I am having a bad day, I can look back on the good times and reflect!)

  30. 02/02/2017 / 4:46 am

    I journaled for years in my teens and twenties but stopped for some reason. I need to really start again, it is amazing what it can do for spiritual and mental healing, and it’s great stress relief!

  31. Debra
    02/02/2017 / 4:33 am

    I really need to get into this again, even if it is only once a week, I know I will regret it one day if I don’t.

  32. 02/02/2017 / 4:07 am

    I love to journal. It’s such a great release for my feelings and such a good keepsake for future generations.

  33. Kathy
    02/02/2017 / 3:45 am

    I actually wish I would have started a journal when I was younger. I think it’s fun to go back years ago and be able to read what you wrote. A great way to remember a lot of memories.

  34. 02/02/2017 / 3:34 am

    Handwriting is so relaxing to me. I love to practice my writing. A journal is a great way to practice and get out your feelings. I have my kids writing in one to practice.

  35. Lisa Bristol
    02/02/2017 / 3:32 am

    I need to get myself a Journal. I used to write in one when I was younger but got to busy. I will have to make time at the end of the day to write down my thoughts.

  36. Claudia Krusch
    02/02/2017 / 3:31 am

    I love to write in my Journal. I find it so relaxing and a great way to let things go from the day.

  37. 02/02/2017 / 3:28 am

    These are good points. I could definitely benefit from keeping a journal. I haven’t done so in a long time!

  38. Amy Desrosiers
    02/02/2017 / 1:57 am

    I have not journaled in so long. I miss the days when I would write things down to cherish years later. I need to start back up again.

  39. 02/02/2017 / 1:55 am

    I start and stop one all the time. I can never stick to it. Ever. I did when I was a teenager, but the urge just isn’t there anymore.

  40. Reesa Lewandowski
    02/02/2017 / 12:47 am

    I love this journal! I need to really start journaling more!!

  41. 02/01/2017 / 11:10 pm

    With me being a blogger it’s obvious I love to write so the journal is definitely not a leap for me. I think I should do one because it is kind of fun to look back at where you were at that time.

  42. 02/01/2017 / 10:25 pm

    I think that for new journal-keepers, the forming of the journalling habit is one of the most difficult parts. Once you get into the swing, writing and coming up with new things about which to write, seem to become a lot easier all of a sudden.

  43. 02/01/2017 / 10:13 pm

    Those journals are GREAT! I have been journaling for about a decade now, and am always on the hunt for a new book- thanks! I think it’s really therapeutic for me.

  44. 02/01/2017 / 9:31 pm

    I don’t quite journal, but I have tons of notebooks that I write all sorts of stuff in. I look through them and I can remember why it was written. I’m not sure I’d be able to keep an actual journal, I’d feel guilty if I didn’t keep up with it.

  45. 02/01/2017 / 9:16 pm

    I can’t get on the journaling trend but your post makes me feel like I am missing out. Maybe if I just buy one I will finally find enjoyment in it!

  46. 02/01/2017 / 8:53 pm

    I love this!! I know my wife journals quite a bit and finds it to be a good outlet of her thoughts and for brainstorming as well!

  47. 02/01/2017 / 8:46 pm

    I LOVE the idea of leaving some blank pages at the beginning. I’ve been journaling a lot lately and I’ve become obsessed with small custom journals from Etsy. Right now I’m just using a notebook with the quote “She believed she could and so she did” on the front but I love it. I find that when I do journal regularly I am much less stressed and distracted throughout the day.

  48. 02/01/2017 / 8:44 pm

    I have a journal…. Yet I do not write in it! I know. I totally stink. I have every good intention to do it, but don’t. I’m going to borrow your list of ideas to include in the journal. Maybe that will give me the jumpstart I need. Thank you!

  49. 02/01/2017 / 8:18 pm

    I journal every day. It’s an excellent way to get out your feelings and get the day started on the right track.

  50. lydia
    02/01/2017 / 6:52 pm

    Is it weird that I’ve always been turned off by journaling? I have planners galore, but never got into journaling

  51. 02/01/2017 / 5:42 pm

    This is something I really need to do. I have been thinking about starting a journal for a few years now, and just need to do it. I’m sure once I get into the habit of taking a little time for me to write in it, I will use it often. I know I wont regret it.

  52. 02/01/2017 / 5:27 pm

    I Bullet Journal, which isn’t quite as pure as your version, but it does allow me to record a lot of what you mention above. I love journalling in this fashion as it gives me the chance to look back at previous years journals and relive some of the great events. I also use a planner for everyday use and one for my blog so you can tell I love to write things down on paper.

  53. 02/01/2017 / 4:54 pm

    I used to journal back in high school and I really miss doing it. I actually found one of my old journals from freshman year and it is very funny to read now.

  54. 02/01/2017 / 3:59 pm

    Journaling IS important, but I have the worst handwriting ever! I’m not being modest, but realistic, lol. It looks like a child wrote it in crayons, which is why I consider my blog my journal and my way to type out my thoughts 🙂

  55. 02/01/2017 / 3:30 pm

    Journaling is really a great thing to do and add in to the daily routine of life. Healthy for your mind and soul and a way to reflect each day!

  56. robin masshole mommy
    02/01/2017 / 11:39 am

    I can’t write more than a few sentences without my hand cramping up anymore. I love the idea of keeping a diary, though 🙂

    • 02/23/2017 / 6:53 pm

      Why don’t you type it? That is what I do. That way I can write faster and I don’t waste paper. I find that I write more honestly and go more in depth when I type than when I write on paper.

      • 02/23/2017 / 7:00 pm

        Everyone is different when it comes to journaling. I love writing on my lovely journal! 🙂

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