How To Start A Journal: A Mini-Course

Author - Mari L. McCarthy
Published - March 15, 2017

By Jane Bolto

adult-1850177_1920.jpgIf you’re like many creative people, the idea of keeping a journal is both exciting and intimidating. You wonder if you have anything worth writing down, or what the point of it is. You may also wonder if you’ll keep up with it, or if it will be another failed venture. Here are some tips for getting started on a journal- and making the best use of it.


Find Something to Write In

It’s the first simple step, but a defining one. Making the decision to begin a journal isn’t very hard. But finding the right medium is important, too. For some, it will be a simple spiral-bound notebook. Others may want to have an expensive leather cover, and some may even go digital with it. Lined or blank pages? Do you tend to write neat lines and fully formed thoughts, or are you planning a place to store your every doodle, note, and desire? Your personal style will have a lot to do with how you want your journal to look.

Define A Purpose

Before you begin writing, you may need to take some time to decide what the purpose of the journal is. Believe it or not, the purpose of a journal isn’t just to have one. The broad purpose of a journal is to track things so that you can look back and see how far you’ve come. Whether it’s a weight-loss journal, a parenting diary, or a memoir of an adventure, you want to have a purpose and a reference point. Having a defined purpose will help you when you are struggling with what to write.

Write Your First Entry

Your first entry is an important one. It’s where you lay out your journal’s purpose, and your starting points. Whether it’s a starting weight, or a personal growth goal, you want to write it down. You’ll keep coming back to this one, so make sure you put down the reasons why you’re taking this journey- whatever it is. This is where you will set the tone. Are you writing this as though you’re writing to a person? Is it more of a ship’s log, with facts and figures? Or is it a monologue of nothing but your own thoughts and feelings? How you write can be almost as important as what you write. If your goal is to work through personal struggles, how you write will make a huge difference in how you progress.

Keep Writing

Once you’ve begun, many people find it difficult to keep going strong. After a few days, you might miss an entry or two, then go back for a couple of days, but then it will start to fizzle out. Part of effective journaling is being able to return, even after an absence. Just because you slip up for a few days, doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Some people only write once a week, others just a few times a month when the urge hits them. The key is to find a consistent schedule and stick with it.

Make it a Part of Your Routine

The best thing to do is schedule some time for journaling. Put it on your calendar, or on your daily schedule. This way, you have blocked off time for your journaling and you have no excuse for not getting around to it. After you do it for a few weeks, it will become a habit.

The purpose of a journal is to track the progress. Just writing it down isn’t fulfilling that purpose. Remember to go through it every so often. Re-read that first entry, examine your ups and downs, and see how far you’ve come from the beginning. 


With a background in Marketing, Jane Bolto currently works as a Content Specialist at She's always willing to share her passions through writing.

If you want to learn how journaling can help you tackle life's challenges, please download the free eBook, The Journaling Guide to Manage The Stress and Strains of Life 

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