Are you someone who just needs to jot down random thoughts onto paper? Do you sometimes feel like ideas are all jumbled up in your head? Then journaling might be for you.
It may seem juvenile to some, but keeping a journal is more than just a “Dear Diary”. There’s something satisfying about holding pen and paper, about creating something with your hands. Aside from sparking creativity and self-expression, journaling can also be a productivity tool and help improve your memory.
If you’ve been thinking about keeping a journal, here’s how you can get started:
1) Decide on what type of journaling you’ll be doing.
There are MANY different types of journals, although we can probably narrow these down to three: the traditional journal, the visual or creative journal and the bullet journal or a BuJo.
If you like to write lengthy paragraphs, then the traditional journal, a.k.a. diary, is best for you. Here, you pour out your thoughts, from the major, life-changing events in your life, to your seemingly mundane musings.
If you’re the type that keeps bits of paper, wrappers, tickets or news clippings, then keeping a visual journal could be for you. It’s a way to keep your little mementos organized, and a way to express yourself creatively. A creative journal also works for those who like to doodle, sketch or do scrapbooking. It’s still a record of your days, just not done with words, but with art.
Both types of journals can be categorized even further – by topic. Whether it’s for Meditation, Nature, Prayer, etc., you can keep several journals for your different interests or even for a major event in your life, e.g., a wedding journal or a journal for your new home or having a baby. Anything goes!
A bullet journal is a planner-slash-list-slash-diary (in bullet form). It can be straight-forward with simple notes, but it can also be more of a creative journal where you design your own colorful pages. You create your own spaces for your yearly, monthly or weekly plans, as well as your daily notes and topic pages. It’s very flexible and ideal if you’re starting out. It also gives busy folks the perfect way to jot down quick notes about their day.
If you want to chronicle your days with words, go traditional. You can write pages or one sentence per day. If you want to explore your creativity, go visual. Or you can easily combine both! If you want to keep track of your daily activities or maybe a specific habit, plus have a way to look back over the past year, then go for a bullet journal.
What are the topics you gravitate to? Is there something you WANT to write about or document? Will you collect bits and pieces of your travels and keep them together in pages? Will you put together a notebook about your dreams? Your bucket list? Will you write about the books you love and list the books you’ve yet to read? It’s all up to you.
Now for the next step.
2) Get your gear ready.
The easiest type of journaling to start on is the traditional diary. Choose a notebook you love and a good pen, and you’re all set. To inspire you to write more often, get a notebook with good quality paper, and use a pen that writes beautifully and flows well.
Seeing your own penmanship and rereading your writing can be therapeutic. Try to look for inspiring topics if you don’t know where to start. Write about what makes you thankful each day, or what made you sad or frustrated. Sometimes putting things down on paper helps you to release your emotions.
For creative and bullet journals, you’ll need a blank, unlined notebook to start with. The paper should be thick so as not to bleed if you apply glue or water-based art materials.
Depending on the type of art you enjoy making, your gear can range from simple pens for sketching and doodling; to a whole box of art supplies (colored pens, watercolor, wrapping paper, stickers, washi tape, glue, etc.). Of course you mustn’t forget the ephemera you’ve kept from your travels or daily activities. These are essential to make your journals meaningful and truly your own.
Think of what’s important to you and go from there. Find something you’re going to enjoy and do it.
3) Just do it.
You might be overwhelmed. Don’t be.
Start slow. Just start.
Open that notebook. Maybe write a few words (or paragraphs, or pages). Baby steps. Soon words will flow, and you’ll be writing at your own pace. Just write.
If you’re doing a visual journal, try filling up a page or even just part of it. Start with what you have in your mind now, with what you’ve got stashed in your art cabinets, or with the clippings you have yet to organize. Just start.
You can find lots of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest under the hashtags #journal, #bulletjournaling or #bujo. Find work you admire and start there, but find YOUR style. Experiment.
Try to allot a specific chunk of time in your schedule for it. 15 minutes on a weekend is quite enough to start something. Whether you write every day (or night), every week or every month, try to be consistent. But never pressure yourself.
The beautiful thing about journaling is that there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. You can (and should) make it personal. These are, after all, your thoughts and experiences, and this is YOUR life. How you want to document it is entirely up to you.
So go ahead, start your journaling life now! Have fun! 🙂
Check out our other post about keeping a journal:
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