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Have you ever started a journal, only to give up because you “just couldn’t stick to it”?
Journaling can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as help you plan your goals and future. But most people who start a journal will give it up in a few months.
In this article I’ll explore 6 tips on how to start a journal, so you can finally get into a journaling routine and begin to see its benefits for yourself.
How to Start a Journal for Beginners
1. Know the Benefits of Starting a Journal
Before you pick up a pen, spend a few minutes figuring out what you want to get out of starting a journal. You might want to track your emotions or improve your mental health, or you might want a place to log all your thoughts so that you’ll be able to reflect on all the best – and the worst – times of your life.
2. Don’t Start on the First Page
The idea of a blank notebook can be overwhelming, and it may even put you off journaling all together. But the more pages you fill out in your journal, the easier it will become to just write without worrying about how each page looks.
Try opening your journal to a random page every time you write in it. This way, if you create a page you don’t like the look of, you don’t have to see it every time you open your journal. And if you really hate what you’ve written then you can just rip the page out – it won’t hurt anyone.
3. Don’t Journal Every Day
You don’t need to journal every single day to see its benefits. You don’t even need to journal every week.
If you force yourself to write every day, you’ll quickly lose motivation and never touch your journal again. Instead, try journaling only when you’re particularly happy, sad, angry or excited.
Try journaling only when you need it.
There may be days where you feel the need to journal more than once, and there may be weeks at time where you don’t journal at all. If you look at journaling as a tool to help you when you need it, rather than something you should be doing every day just for the sake of it, then you’ll be well on your way to seeing some real benefits.
4. Stick to one Journal
You may see people using several different journals for different purposes – dream journals, gratitude journals, or travel journals to name a few.
But I would suggest that, as a beginner, you should put all your thoughts into one notebook. Somewhere you can write about absolutely anything you want.
This way, whenever you feel an urge to write in your journal, you can just pick it up and start. Keep your journal somewhere safe with your favourite pen, and you can reduce the time it takes to start journaling to a few seconds.
5. Be Creative
Your journal can look however you want it to, and it doesn’t have to just consist of writing. Even if you’re terrible at sketching, you can use your journal as somewhere to doodle, draw, or scribble when you’re bored or in need of a distraction.
Journaling lets even the most uncreative of people be creative. Nobody has to see what you create – try letting your imagination loose every once in a while and seeing where it takes you.
6. Use Journal Prompts
If you want to start a journal but don’t know where to start, journal prompts can be a great way to remove any pressure and just start writing.
Sometimes there are too many decisions attached to journaling (which notebook you’ll use, which colour pen you’ll use, what you’ll write about), and it can be nice to mindlessly answer questions for a while.
You can find journal prompts online (Pinterest is a good place to look), or you can write them yourself in advance.
Read next: 50 journal prompts for self discovery
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Let me know if any of these tips have helped you! It took me years to work out how to start a journal and stick to it, but journaling has been so beneficial for my own mental health and I’d recommend it to anyone.
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