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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Martin-Himmons

5 Steps For Starting Your Journaling Practice And 21 Tips To Help You Journal Every Day

Have you ever thought about keeping a journal, but felt that it would be too difficult?

Well, it doesn’t have to be. A lot of people feel that making the decision to journal is easier than actually journaling. But it doesn’t have to be that way because there’s no right or wrong way to journal. Whatever works best for you, is the best way to journal. And when you start, if your chosen method isn’t working in the way that you’ve hoped, you can always change your style for another that’s a better fit.

Journaling is a way to discover yourself. What you like or don’t like, what makes you tick. When you’re first getting started, it can be confusing trying to figure out things such as your preferred style of writing, the type of instrument you wish to journal in or even how often you’re gonna journal.

While you’re trying to figure it all out, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I want to express myself when I journal?

  • How much time do I have to spend journaling?

  • Where do I want to do my journaling?

  • Is there an activity I love that I can use as a form of journaling?

  • What is my goal in creating this journal?

Answering these questions helps you choose the best method and time frame to begin journaling.

There are other things that you should consider when making your decision because you want to make your journaling experience to be as pleasurable as possible. Here they are:

Find Your Prefect Tools

Your pen should be smooth and effortless to use. If you prefer writing on paper, you should decide if you want a notebook that lays flat, a bound blank book or notepad. Or maybe you want to journal in an electronic notebook. If you don't like writing in longhand, an electronic tablet or laptop may be for you instead.

Schedule Your Time

What time of day are you at your best? Find a time when you have peace and quiet and are fully charged to do your journaling. Maybe this is early in the morning before the world wakes up or late at night after your family goes to bed. Whenever it is, be intentional about creating a routine you can stick to when you start journaling.

Make Your Time And Environment Work For You

Time is always a commodity, but you can make it work for you when journaling. Pick a specific time to journal and stick to it as much as possible. Reduce distractions and unnecessary noises like the radio or tv. You can also reduce noises by turning on a fan or white noise machine. Or try getting closer to the great outdoors by going outside and listen to the sounds of nature. Limit the number of people in your personal space and consider diffusing oils or having a scented candle burning to add to your experience. Above all, make sure that your environment is comfortable for you.

Do What Comes Naturally

The best way to begin journaling is by doing what already comes naturally to you. If you love writing, get to it. If list making is your thing, start listing your thoughts down in nice, neat rows. If you prefer talking, consider an audio journal that you can dictate into while you engage in other activities.

What’s Your Why?

Anytime you connect something that you’re doing with something that you value, you have a greater chance of succeeding and sticking with what it is that you’re doing. Knowing why you’re journaling helps motivate you. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight or manage a health issue, knowing that you are journaling your food intake for your health will keep you motivated.

Now that you’ve made the decision to journal and have figured out a way to make your journaling process an experience, it’s time to figure out exactly how you’ll journal. Not every journal has to be a blank page or dotted book where you write for hours sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings. Some journals take minutes to update. Others don’t use words at all. Journaling isn’t so much about how you do it as it is that you do it with frequency and consistency. By doing this, journaling will help you manage your stress before your stress manages you.

You can use your journaling practice to track of goals, work through difficult times, express yourself creatively, engage in self-care or simply catalogue your dreams. Whatever you need, there’s a way to journal it.

Here are some traditional ways to journal:

  • Blank notebooks

  • Electronic notebooks

  • A writer’s pad

  • Fill-in-the-blank journals with prompts

  • Gratitude journals

  • A line a day journals

If you are a person who loves to write and spend time putting down your thoughts and ideas with minimal prompting than a traditional journal or journaling method will probably work best for you. If you prefer typing or electronics, then an electronic journaling format may be ideal.

If you consider yourself a creative and would enjoy taking an unconventional approach to journaling, consider some of the following methods:

The great thing about all of these formats is that they allow you to use art or drawing as your main journaling process. If you’re busy and don’t have a lot of spare time, you may find bullet journaling a way to stay on track without sacrificing too much energy. If you’re an artist, you’ll probably enjoy expressing your thoughts, ideas, and dreams through doodling or through your art.

If you want a more practical way of expressing your thoughts, a mind map may be the format for you. Mind mapping takes ideas and thoughts and creates compartmentalized areas for each thought. Then the ideas that match that thought are neatly assigned to the thought. It’s a unique way to organize anything from starting a new business to writing a book. Mind mapping can be really helpful if you’re trying to work through a specific issue or concern.

Another thing that you should consider is using more than one type of journal at a time. Maybe there are multiple things that you want to keep track of or work through or express. Maybe you want to write in longhand about your gratitude each night before you go to be but you also have an electronic notepad on your smart phone that you use to jot down bullet points on business ideas that pop into your head at work.

Now that you’ve figured out why you want to journal, how you will make the experience of journaling comfortable for you and the type of journaling you wish to do, the next most important thing is to make sure that you develop and maintain the motivation to journal. To do that, you need to develop a journaling habit.

In the past, when it came to habits the generally accepted thought was, they take 21 days to develop. Doing something over and over again during that timeframe allows for a mindset shift to integrate the behavior into our everyday lives. Little by little what once was foreign becomes routine. Nowadays, it is thought that it may take up to 66 days to develop a habit. But in honor of the original 21 days, I will give you 21 tips to develop your journaling habit:

1. Don’t rush it

2. Have great tools

3. Be present when you journal

4. Be consistent with the time you journal

5. Commit to the practice of journaling

6. Get inspiration from nature

7. Share your enthusiasm for journaling with others

8. Find a community that loves to journal

9. Find a favorite place to journal

10. Enjoy your favorite drink when you journal

11. Use a special seat for journaling

12. Set aside time with your child to journal together

13. Eliminate outside distractions

14. Diffuse essential oils while you journal

15. Burn scented candles when you journal

16. Leave your journal out so you can be reminded to engage with it

17. Schedule journaling time into your calendar

18. Always have a supply of journals and tools on hand

19. Treat yourself to a reward for reaching a goal you've journaled about

20. Forgive yourself when you don’t journal

21. Place no limits on yourself about journaling. Just do it

So there you have it! All of the things that you need to start a journaling habit for yourself. Keep at it and watch your journaling practice develop and grow. You can do it because it's all about Making Time.

Let’s talk. What are you going to do to start your journaling practice? Let me know in the comments section.


Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a facilitator, stress management coach and author of “Yes I’m Grateful,” a gratitude journal. She believes in empowering her clients to help them manage their stress and increase self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn


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