Aimlief is all about using journaling to get unstuck in life and become the best version of yourself, so of course, it had to have an article for beginner journalers.
If you’ve heard about journaling and want to try it but don’t know where to start, this is the post for you.
Journaling is a fantastic tool for self-growth, productivity, focus, and self-care, but it can be intimidating at first because you:
- have to learn how to overcome writer’s block,
- may feel cheesy writing on a journal,
- need to practice being honest with yourself (and that ain’t easy most of the time.)
In this post, you’ll find the best journaling ideas for beginners, so you don’t get stuck staring at a blank page, pen in hand.
These ideas will help you get past the initial obstacles of keeping a journal.
Many people who want to start, ask things like:
- how do you start a beginner journal?
- how to write when you start journaling?
- which journal is best for beginners?
If that sounds like you, keep reading.
These journaling ideas will help you:
- let loose,
- get familiar with journaling,
- and explore which type of journaling goes with your personality and needs.
But first, a story…
In 2019, I was working as a translator for a translation agency.
We translated mostly ads for penis enlargement and weight loss pills.
So, I spent most of the time reading and translating stories about men with small penises that became casanovas overnight, thanks to a magic pill.
Yeap. It was awesome… (I hope you caught my sarcastic tone there.)
But as awful as it was, it was reliable.
They had work for me all the time and always paid on time.
I was miserable, but at least I was making more than enough money to live a decent life.
By that time, I’d been working for this company for almost three years; what started as a temporary gig to make more money became my everyday life.
Now I can understand why I was so miserable, but I couldn’t pinpoint why I wasn’t feeling like myself back then.
I didn’t even know it had something to do with what I was doing for a living.
So, amidst my frustration, I started binge-watching many YouTube videos about passion, purpose, changing careers, and self-growth.
That’s how I stumbled upon journaling.
At first, I thought it was ridiculous, but now I understand that I was just scared to try it out; I was scared of what I could uncover.
Little by little, I convinced myself to give it a try.
Thankfully, I did try it.
Journaling helped me:
- realize I wanted to change careers,
- feel grateful for the positive aspects of my life back then,
- and start my own business.
I believe in the power of journaling, and it’s my mission to make it more accessible, easy, and fun for as many people as I can.
Without further ado, here’s a list of journaling ideas for beginners you’ll want to try right away 🙂
12 Journaling Ideas for Beginners
1. Gratitude Journaling
Right after you wake up or before bedtime, list three things you’re grateful for that day.
Research shows that making gratitude lists, which helps focus on the good aspects of life, can help:
- feel more positive,
- reduce excessive worry,
- get rid of toxic emotions,
- reduce stress,
- and even sleep better.
Making gratitude lists is an excellent foundation for your journaling practice because sometimes, while making the list, you’ll feel like you want to write a little more about something you’re grateful for.
And that can lead, if you want it to, to traditional, free-writing journaling.
2. Happiness Journaling
This one’s very similar to gratitude journaling, just that this time, instead of focusing on things you’re grateful for, you’ll list things that make you happy.
For this one, think about things that put a smile on your face or things that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Right before bed, take 5 minutes to think about three things that made you happy that day.
Everything’s valid here: your pet, your favorite song, a TV show, your home, your kitchen, the meal you ate today… everything.
Nothing’s too small or insignificant to make it to your happiness list.
Actually, it’s best if you make it a habit to list those tiny things in your life that bring you joy instead of expecting to list only significant achievements you want to celebrate.
Focus on the details that make your life worth living.
Happy because your dog was excited to see you? Write it down.
Happy because you watched an episode of your favorite show? Put it on the list.
What’s important here is that you list those things that light you up.
3. Dream Journaling
Dreaming is a unique experience that you can value as a deeply meaningful communication with yourself.
With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that keeping a dream journal is an effective form of journaling as a tool for self-growth.
As soon as you wake up, open your journal (or an app on your phone) and describe as many details about what you dreamt the night before as you can.
Every time you journal about your dreams, instead of trying to find an esoteric, mysterious meaning for them, try to understand what your mind might be trying to tell you about your:
- emotional wounds,
- conflicts and problems.
Your dreams are as real as any thought or feeling in your waking life.
So, keeping a dream journal can help you uncover thought patterns, fears, and more, just like journaling about things you’re feeling or thinking when you’re awake can.
Plus, participating actively in understanding your dreams as your own and unique creation can empower you to make choices and even change your behavior.
4. Mood Journaling
Log your mood for the day right before bed.
You can either log your “overall” mood or list everything you felt during the day (we all feel different things throughout our days, it’s ok.)
Do this by writing the word down (like “happy,” “bored,” “unmotivated,” “energized,” etc.) or, if you like drawing and keeping things pretty, you can use a mood tracker layout like the ones bullet journalers use.
By keeping a mood journal, you’re still “journaling” about your feelings and becoming more self-aware, but in a straightforward, beginner-friendly way.
Mood journaling is a great way to start processing your feelings if you want more of that self-awareness in your life.
5. Mindfulness Journaling
Write about what you see, hear, smell, and feel when you sit down to write.
Describe what’s around you or how your body feels right now.
This one is all about using journaling to come back to the present moment, which is an excellent mindfulness exercise that’ll train you to stay present the rest of the day.
Write in your journal as if you’re already living your dream life.
Describe everything in the present tense:
- “I’m working my dream job as a…”
- “I feel… every day.”
- “I make [$$$] every month.”
Do this every day for 5-10 minutes, while sitting in a quiet place and preferably in the morning.
This type of journaling is a well-known manifestation technique.
For some people, scripting feels cheesy, but I’ve tried it as it’s a great exercise that makes me feel hopeful and motivated.
But the thing is… to me, scripting isn’t so much about “manifesting;” it’s more about:
- making you believe your dream life’s possible,
- helping you make sense of the things you desire because it helps you imagine how all the areas of your life would look together if you got everything you want,
- giving you ideas of things you can do every day to make that life happen because scripting makes you think about that life constantly, and that’ll expand your creativity and give you ideas,
- and reminding yourself what you want and why you want it.
7. Ideas Journaling
Keeping an ideas journal is the perfect way to start journaling if you’re an ideas person.
Have ideas on how to stop climate change or end world hunger? Write them down.
Have ideas on how to make your cooking process more efficient? Write them down.
It doesn’t matter how big, small, or “useful” your ideas sound to you; I bet they’re worth keeping in a journal.
If you start taking notes of your ideas somewhere, you’ll:
- free your brain from having to remember them, which will give you more brain power for more ideas,
- end up having better ideas because when you’re writing the original ideas down, you’ll keep thinking and have better ones,
- probably end up developing the idea even more while writing.
8. Symptoms Journaling
If you’re struggling with a disease or even if you’ve not been feeling like yourself lately, you may benefit a lot from keeping a symptoms journal.
This type of journal is exactly what it sounds like: log your symptoms along with the date and other details for context, like:
- what you ate that day,
- how you slept the night before,
- who you spent time with,
- if you took your medication,
- and any other detail you find relevant.
Symptoms journals are one of the most demanding ones because you usually need to keep them with you all day to keep track of the things you feel throughout the day.
However, the self-awareness they help you develop in a very short amount of time is unparalleled.
The good thing is you don’t need to keep this type of journal forever if you find it too demanding.
Just by doing it for one or two weeks, you’ll start noticing patterns in your behavior and health that will improve your life.
9. Guided Journaling
Or journaling with prompts.
This is my favorite journaling idea for beginners who love to write.
Guided journaling consists of answering journaling prompts.
I love this one so much and find it perfect for beginners because it helps overcome writer’s block, which is one of the most challenging obstacles when you start journaling.
Plus, guided journaling feels a little like therapy or like talking to a friend in the sense that you feel like you’re responding to something instead of just writing what’s on your mind, which sometimes can feel like talking to yourself.
And even though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with talking to yourself, this may sound intimidating for beginners who don’t know how to face a blank page.
The Self-Discovery Bundle is an excellent guided-journaling tool designed to help you get started with journaling and:
- uncover who you are and what you want,
- face your fears,
- define your goals,
- build a routine that helps you reach your goals,
- and much more.
Check it out here.
10. Lessons Journaling
Write about something new you learned that day or the day before.
This can include:
- lessons from a class,
- life lessons,
- a new recipe you cooked and loved,
- or something you learned about someone you have a relationship with…
Anything that’s a new material for your brain.
We all learn more than one new thing most days, but the idea here is that you stick with just one lesson per day.
After a while, rereading your entries will give you a sense of how much you’re growing. Plus, it’ll help you learn better.
11. Self-Care Journaling
“What am I going to do for myself today?”
That’s the question you’d ask yourself every day when facing the blank page of your self-care journal.
If you’re struggling to take care of yourself, keeping a self-care journal will help you bring more awareness to that issue.
Starting a self-care journal can help you realize why it’s so hard for you to take time for yourself.
You can also keep an ongoing list of things that feel like top-tier self-care for you and come back to it whenever you feel like you need to do something for yourself.
12. Art Journaling
Are you the artsy type?
If you like expressing yourself through art in any form, like drawing, painting, or making collages, then keeping an art journal is what you need.
An art journal is a visual version of a traditional journal.
The idea is that you convey how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking through art in any form.
What I love about art journals is that they’re the perfect opportunity to create and explore your creativity.
Grab your crayons, watercolor pencils, color pens, or anything you have on hand and illustrate:
- your fears,
- your ideal life,
- someone you miss,
- how your body feels,
- a positive affirmation,
- how you feel right now,
- what love means to you,
- a goal you want to reach,
- the best version of yourself,
- a question you’ve been thinking a lot about.
Or any other thing you want to let out 🙂
Which Journal Is Best for Beginners?
As you can see, there’s a type of journal for every personality.
Not one is better or more effective than others.
What’s important is that you find the one that suits you right now.
The right type of journaling for you may change from one day to the next: maybe one day you feel like making a gratitude list, and the next day you want to work on your art journal.
However, keep in mind that the only way to know which type of journaling you feel like doing is by trying them all and paying attention to how you feel.
Which of the journaling ideas in this post caught your attention? Which one do you want to try first?
What Is Journaling? And Why Keep a Journal?
Journaling is simply getting your thoughts and feelings out and putting them onto paper (or screen if you prefer).
I already told you the story about how journaling changed my life, but I’m not the only one who has experienced its benefits.
There’s research on journaling and its perks that’ll convince you to start journaling if you’re not sold yet.
According to James Pennebaker, a pioneer of writing therapy (aka, journaling), keeping a journal helps people understand their feelings and even make sense of trauma.
Journaling can help you:
- cope with stress better,
- improve your immune system,
- solve problems more effectively,
- know yourself better,
- deal with trauma,
- and even reduce physical pain.
Also… did you know that keeping your traumas secret instead of talking about them can harm your health?
But what if it hurts so much, you can’t even talk about it?
Well, if your secret is too painful to share or say out loud (I’ve had a couple of those, I know how awful it feels), journaling about those events is as effective as talking about them with someone else.
So, give journaling a try for a couple of days. See how you feel. And thank me later 😉
Is Journaling Right for You?
Some people (like me!) love journaling.
Others hate it.
There’s nothing in the entire world that every single person likes and journaling is no exception.
If you’ve been hearing a lot about journaling and want to give it a try, go for it.
But if you’ve tried journaling time and time again and it’s not doing for you what it’s supposed to do, then channel your energies into finding the right tool for you.
None of these tools can replace the others, but instead of journaling, you could try:
- group therapy
- art therapy
- gestalt therapy
- creative writing (writing songs, poems, plays, or books)
- or art in any form (painting, drawing, designing, singing, acting).
If you consider the healing nature of journaling and focus solely on that, you’ll start to realize there are other things you can try to help you:
- express yourself,
- know yourself better,
- and process your worries and fears.
Go ahead and try something different if journaling’s not your thing 🙂
4 Tips to Stay Consistent With Your Journaling
You can enjoy the fruits of journaling after the very first session, but journaling consistently will give you even better results.
Journaling is a habit like brushing your teeth or eating fruit with breakfast.
That means you have to build and cultivate the journaling habit if you want to make it a part of your routine.
Here are four journaling tips for beginners that’ll help you stay consistent:
- Do it as soon as you wake up.
- Write on your journal right before or after something else you already do every day. Let’s say, do it right after breakfast or before going back home after work. This is called habit stacking, and it can help you build habits faster and more efficiently.
- Know you can journal for 1 minute and still benefit from it. Who doesn’t have one minute to spare?
- If you’re super busy or your life feels chaotic, or you keep forgetting your journal at home or wherever, journal on your phone. Create a new folder (your journal) on Google Drive and write on a new Google Doc (your entries) every time. Chances are you keep your phone with you at all times, so you won’t forget. Or use the notes app on your phone.
The Bottom Line
The benefits of journaling are undeniable.
Find the kind of journal that feels more like you, give it a go for a couple of days, and see how you feel.
Journaling marked a before and after in my life; it changed me forever.
It could end up doing the same for you.