Beginner’s Guide to Journaling by Certified Journal Coach
Your Ultimate Guide to get started with Journaling:
‘How do I get started with Journaling, Sonia’ – this is the most common question I have received over the past year of being a Certified Journal Coach.
I do have the podcast episode on how to get started with journaling and all you need to know about journaling but I felt to create a go-to guide for all my journaling beginners to clear out all the confusion and get them started on their journaling journey.
If you’re here, I would assume that you’re new to journaling and you wish to dive deeper. Maybe, you tried to journal earlier and succeeded in journaling for a few days but couldn’t be consistent, or even, you’re confused with so much online stuff about journaling that you needed some proven source to guide you on getting started.
We are going to dive deeper and my intention through this post is to ‘ Get you started with Journaling’ without delaying or being overwhelmed.
But I want the same commitment from your end, close your eyes and set the intention for yourself that you will follow through the steps here and trust the process.
This definitely is my most detailed post so sit back and enjoy!!
(This post is not only for reading, but I also want you to implement the concepts I’m sharing, and feel free to send me a DM on IG @yourjournalcoach if you’ve any questions or to share the takeaways)
Let me share how I started journaling and what qualifies me to teach this topic to you.
How did I get into journaling?
I still remember the day sitting in my office at my workplace and coming across a blog on journaling. It felt fascinating and intriguing at the same time. Back then, I was working in a toxic workplace where I never felt appreciated, the work was never-ending, and oh my the bias because of culture.
It was terrifying to wake up every day just to go to the place where my worth was crushed and my work was nearly never respected. My mind was always full of anxious thoughts and I always felt like running away or quitting my job. However, I had no other way to sustain my living and hence, I had to continue.
But when I discovered journaling online, something inside of me pulled me to pick the pen and journal. I was into writing and writing always helped me bring my peace back.
I started journaling with the sole intention to dump my worries, stop my anxious thoughts and just have an outlet for all the overwhelming feelings I was feeling. I had no such great expectations nor did I know any journaling techniques initially.
I started journaling nearly every day and things inside my head started getting clearer. I was able to now understand what I needed to do with my life and I took the bold step of asking for a raise; when denied I resigned from the post.
The younger Sonia would have been terrified of the thought of even asking for a raise let alone quitting her only source of income. But I knew, I was meant for more, I knew I had a different purpose here and it was time.
Journaling made me realize my worth and I never settled for less since then. I know I’m worthy and my work is worthy, I do not accept less now.
It was through journaling that I found my soul purpose, it was through journaling that I was able to heal my childhood wounds and re-parent my inner child, and it was through journaling that I was able to create a soulful business that now helps women from all over the world to claim their aligned, abundant life through the power of journaling.
I deeply believe in the power of this sacred art and I am on a divine mission to help women like me whose voice was suppressed, who were told ‘LESS’, who were told to ‘NOT TAKE SPACE’ to rise up, roar, and claim their happy, healthy and wealthy life.
Before diving into getting started with journaling, let me explain the science behind journaling.
The science behind journaling:
Journaling is not all magical or woo-woo stuff, there’s so much science and logic behind this beautiful art. If you’re unaware, I am a science student, and getting nerdy about the science behind things is something I love dearly. The science side in me was enthralled in learning the scientific reasons why journaling works.
Here’s how journaling works:
When you’re journaling, the left side of your brain which is the analytical one is busy in the process of writing which leaves your right brain aka your creative brain to wander.
When your right brain is free to wander, it gets the liberty to provide a different perspective, creative solutions, unique ways of viewing things, connecting with your intuition, with the Source. This is how you find answers from nowhere as you journal.
I have had many such experiences where the solution just pops up and my clients have experienced this as well. So the next time your logical brain gives you all the reasons not to journal, remind yourself of the science behind journaling and how it truly works.
Let’s now dive into the juicer stuff on getting started with journaling. I know you’ve been waiting for this so let’s start.
How to start journaling:
The three steps to start your journaling journey:
- Grab your journal and pens
- Get into an uninterrupted space
- Set the intention and begin journaling
This is it. You may not believe but journaling is not as overwhelming as we have made it. All you need is a journal and pen + the intention to bring your truth on paper as your journal. There’re various journaling tips and different journaling techniques that you can use but all in all, this is the beginner’s guide to journaling.
Our mind really loves confusion and overwhelm, I tell my clients this often and there’s the neuroscience behind this. I love simplifying things and I want you to understand that it’s not that difficult to begin journaling as we’re making it inside our heads.
Let’s me share the journaling tips as you start your journaling journey:
Journaling Tips for beginners from Journal Coach:
1. Stop feeling overwhelmed
When you try to do more research on how to get started with journaling and what to do or what not to do; you’re just confusing yourself.
This will make you feel stuck and you won’t pick up the pen. Instead, rely on one source and just pick your journal. You don’t learn guitar by reading all the stuff about guitar, you actually practice it and the same goes with journaling.
2. There are no rules when it comes to journaling
If you’re getting caught up with the confusion if your way to journal is right or whether you should use a ruled journal or the blank journal or anything else; know that there’re no such rules when it comes to journaling. If you feel called to use a ruled journal, do that; if morning time works for you, journal in the morning. You really don’t need any rulebook.
3. What you write is always right
I don’t know if I’m journaling the right way – I get to ask this so many times and here’s my response – trust yourself and know that what you write is always right. You’re always guided in your journaling journey and every word that flows from your pen onto your journal is absolutely something that you need at the moment.
Always remember, you’re guided as you journal.
4. Hand journaling v/s digital journal
Though I always prefer journaling by hand because it slows you down and gives you the opportunity to be mindful; it’s totally acceptable if you prefer digital journaling.
I consider blogging as digital journaling at times because I literally pour my ideas, and emotions here bringing my raw self to you. That being said, journaling doesn’t have to be something quotable. You don’t journal to publish them. It’s for you to bring awareness and heal yourself.
Hence, whichever way you choose, make sure you’re being honest with yourself as you write.
5. Be honest as you write
The only rule if you ever want to follow while journaling is to be utterly honest as you write. Your journal is your sacred space and it’s for you, so bring your raw self as you journal. You’re not journaling to impress anyone but to express yourself.
6. Protect your journal
The only reason why someone cannot be honest in their journal is the fear of others reading their journal.
‘What if someone reads my journal’? – my clients ask to me a lot and my best suggestion here is to have strict boundaries. Communicate your boundaries with your family members or friends or whoever you’re sharing your space with.
Let them know that they are not allowed to read your journal. And if nothing works, pull out the word document and keep it locked or password protected.
7. Have a ritual for your journaling session
This is something that helped me stay consistent with my journaling practice. Having a ritual around my journaling session such as lighting a candle, keeping crystals, pulling a tarot card, and sitting in nature can really change your mood and help you look forward to your journaling session the next day.
8. Have an accountability partner or community
My main purpose of having The Journaling Collective membership was to have a community of soul-led women who comes together to explore their inner magic and have a group of like-minded individuals who are ready to claim their abundant life.
When you have a community to support you on your journaling journey, you are more likely to stay consistent and also share your journal questions, takeaways, and breakthroughs with the community.
9. Know the difference between consistent and regular
Again, this is the most misunderstood concept when it comes to journaling. You don’t have to journal every single day – yes, you read that right. You don’t need to sit with your journal and force yourself to write just for the sake of writing. There’s a difference between being regular and consistent.
Your consistency could be thrice a week or four times a week or even twice a week – stick to it. Just as we don’t go to the gym every single day; you don’t have to force yourself to journal every single day. With practice, you will figure out what works for you.
Besides, even if you skip journaling for a day or two; do not let it mean anything about you. You’re not lazy; nor is journaling time-consuming. These are just the stories we tell ourselves. Get back to journal the very next day.
10. Use different journaling techniques
If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@yourjournalcoach); you’d know I’m all about learning and teaching new journaling techniques. I love exploring this beautiful art of journaling and including different journaling techniques in my daily journaling routine.
If you’re a beginner, it’s so much fun to learn different ways to journal. From morning pages to gratitude journaling to anger journaling; the sky is the limit here.
11. Allow your journal to be messy
Where are my perfectionists at?
If you’re scared of spoiling your journal, know that you’re not alone. I used to keep the first page of my journal blank for a long while until I started understanding what my journal is for me.
My journal is the sacred doorway that leads me to my inner self. What your journal is for you? Are you willing to be imperfect and messy on this journey of finding yourself?
Your journal should reflect your personality and should feel welcoming. If the thought of spoiling the first page scares you, fill it with some inspirational quotes or some of your favorite song lyrics.
And don’t obsess about your handwriting. You’re probably out of practice and it will look messy in the beginning. Handwriting gets better – and more legible – with practice and plenty of patience. So don’t let an un-Instagrammable cursive stop you.
Make some messy doodles or scrawl some quotes. Your journal doesn’t have to be the perfect flat lay for Instagram. You are allowed to journal the way you wish.
12. Keep your journal handy
I really don’t advise beginners to have multiple journals because it’s difficult to carry and you may find the excuse not to journal because you don’t have a specific journal handy.
Keep your all-purpose journal in your bag or purse / handy as you travel. This can be a beautiful substitute to mindless scrolling.
Whenever you catch your mind drift into the spiral of thoughts, grab your journal and pour your heart out. Write everything that’s on your mind and notice if that creates any pattern.
When you’re on vacation, a travel journal can be an incredible tool to write down your sensations when they’re still fresh in your mind. Use a journal to plan your trip and keep track of any great restaurants you’ve tried or museums you’d love to revisit.
13. Write for your eyes only
Your journal isn’t for any publication or nothing that you’re writing is for someone else to read. This is your sacred space and is meant only for you.
When you write in fear or hope that others will read your journal, it becomes difficult to bring your absolute truth on paper. You won’t be able to bring those real, raw emotions on paper when you’re thinking of others as you journal. Your journal isn’t to impress anyone but to express yourself.
These were some mindful tips for beginners and as this is the beginner’s guide to journaling; I want to make sure that I include everything that I needed to know when I started my journaling journey.
Let me share three easy ways to journal when you’re just beginning.
Three easy ways to journal today:
1. Free Writing
This is so far the easiest journaling method that I used when I just started journaling. I was struggling with anxious thoughts and I needed some path or an outlet for my emotions; this is when I picked up my journal and started writing all my thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Free-writing; as the name suggests is all about writing freely, without giving yourself much time to think or pause. Set a timer for 10 mins and just write your heart out. This technique helped me clear my mind and render me much-needed peace.
Remember, there’s no perfect time to free-write; just pick your journal and dump your thoughts.
2. Morning pages
Morning pages are my anchor. I find it refreshing to write in the morning and as the name suggests, morning pages are to be written in the morning. There’re three simple rules when it comes to morning pages:
- Do it first thing, before other activities
- Write three full pages
- Write long-hand and in a stream-of-consciousness style (i.e. noting your thoughts as they come to you)
Here’s the detailed post on How to get started with Morning pages.
3. Guided journaling
When you’re just beginning to journal, it can be difficult to put your thoughts on paper and there will be times when you won’t know what to write.
This is when guided journaling comes to the rescue. I simply love some mindful prompts that nudge me to dive deeper and bring my honest truth on paper.
I use journaling prompts from my gorgeous journal; Unravel Yourself wherever I am in need of some soulful journal prompts. My journal had more than 200 mindfully designed prompts and life-changing personal anecdotes narrated for every topic. You can check out the journal here.
Remember, you can journal using any of the above journaling methods and it really doesn’t matter which one you choose. What matters is that you start journaling and be really consistent with this wonderful art.
This is why I created The Journaling Collective Membership; a soul-led community of women to explore their inner magic and live their aligned, abundant life through the power of journaling.
Now that we know some easy ways to journal, let me guide you on what to write in your journal especially when you’re intimidated by the blank page.
What to write in a journal?
There are times when opening our journals and stare at a blank page not knowing where to begin from. I have experienced this so many times and no matter what stage of journaling you’re on – the blank page can be intimidating.
This is why I begin my journaling session with – Today I choose to feel ………… and I take it from there. If you feel stuck while journaling, I will suggest giving this a go. Besides, here are some ideas about what to write in your journal.
1. The purpose of your journal
When we feel stuck or aren’t sure what to write in our journal, it signals that we have forgotten what our journal is for us. Time and again, I always remind myself what my journal is for me, what is my purpose behind journaling, and how will my future self thank me for journaling today.
Remind yourself why you started journaling and how this art benefits you; mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
2. Write about your wildest dreams
This is something that always gets me excited to pick my journal. I love using my journal for manifesting my wildest dreams with various journaling techniques such as 369 manifestation, scripting, morning pages and so on.
You can read in detail about 369 manifestation technique that I am using to manifest my dream home.
Go wild and limitless when you’re writing your dreams. I have this intention written in my manifestation journal – ‘ EVERYTHING I WRITE IN THIS JOURNAL IS MY ABSOLUTE TRUTH’ and I truly believe in that.
3. Talk to the higher power
There are times in our life when we feel stuck, when we feel in the middle of nowhere – this is the time when you need to pick your journal the most.
Grab your journal and use it to converse with the higher power. It’s so reassuring to believe that there’s someone looking for you, making ways and moving things on your behalf. You don’t have to do it all alone or you don’t have to carry the heaviness all on your own.
4. Describe your ideal day
Just as you used your journal to manifest your wildest dreams, you can use it to describe your ideal day. Write in your journal how your perfect day will look like, what you’re doing, how are you feeling, and what are you watching – use all your senses to describe your perfect day.
I love diving into my future self and writing my perfect day visualizing it to be my absolute truth.
5. Process heavy emotions in your journal
Your journal is your sacred space, you are allowed to bring your raw emotions on paper and feel the feelings. We are so busy doing all the things that we don’t really realize how much pain we are holding within, and how much stuff is left to be processed yet.
This is your chance to sit and slow down in order to process heavy emotions that are stuffed within. This is your chance to feel those heavy feelings on paper and notice the patterns.
6. Write what you’re currently experiencing in your life
Let your journal be a series of your current experiences. Write about those little moments of joy that you felt but went unrecognized, write about the small miracles in your life.
Write about your travel experiences, the people you met, and the things you experienced there. There’s just so much going on in our lives and it’s such a beautiful thing to narrate our experiences in our journals.
Imagine reading these experiences after two years – the joy of cherishing sweet past memories.
7. Make lists in your journal
Write a list of things you wish to do in life, your travel list, the food you wish to devour, the movies on your watch list, and so on.
Writing lists in my journal is my favorite as it gives me so much energy to do things.
I have my to-do list, to-watch list, to-travel list, and adventure list in my journal.
You see, there’re just endless ways you can fill your journal pages but I want you to be intentional with your journaling. I want you to know why you’re journaling and how journaling is impacting your life.
Now that you know what to write in your journal, let’s dive deeper into creating a long-lasting journaling habit.
How to create a long-lasting journaling habit?
If you think getting started with journaling is the most difficult task, let me tell you – it’s not. Being consistent with journaling is usually harder than getting started but I have some amazing tips for you especially if you’re just a beginner in the journaling world.
Being consistent with journaling is something most of us struggle with. We journal for a week and then forget it all of a sudden until we experience the sudden urge to process our emotions or we are in a difficult situation.
Here’re some of the tips to be consistent with journaling from the certified journal coach:
1. Follow no rules
Initially, when I started journaling, I got under the influence of other journalers and started accepting their routine as mine. I was following the rules they followed without realizing that we’re all unique and different and it’s okay to have our own rules with this practice of journaling.
2. Commitment >>> Motivation
You can never bring change in your life if you simply rely on being motivated. You will never be always motivated (even I’m not) but when you’re committed, it really helps you move the needle forward. Be committed to showing up consistently. (thrice a week every week is a consistency)
3. Create a ritual for your journaling session
My journaling sessions changed when I adopted this little change. I started having a ritual around journaling sessions where I would meditate and do a little breathing exercise, light up candles, and get aligned before journaling. I loved the cozy set-up and it made me look up to the next day. Try having some fun rituals to build a consistent journaling habit.
4. Have fun while journaling
You don’t always have to sit and fill up the pages while journaling. Draw some doodles, try different journaling techniques, use color pens, use different prompts – go out of the bo and journal your heart out. You don’t have to follow any rules except being utterly honest as you journal.
5. Have an accountability group or a support community
I deeply believe in the power of community especially when it comes to journaling or building a habit. The community keeps you accountable and besides that, you get to meet new people, build relationships and share your journaling breakthroughs.
6. Do not beat yourself
Do not put pressure on yourself to show up every single day when it’s difficult. Show yourself some grace and know that it’s totally okay to fall off the practice. You can always start again and be more intentional. Do not label yourself lazy or indulge in negative self-talk.
Life happens and it’s totally and completely alright to fall off the wagon!! We all do, trust me.
I also want to highlight that there’s a vast difference between being consistent and being regular.
Being regular means you’re journaling every single day while being consistent means doing it thrice a week, or four times a week as per your consistency.
My intention behind this post is to get you started with journaling and have a detailed journaling guide for beginners. Now that we have covered, how to start journaling, journaling tips for beginners, and how to be consistent with journaling; the only thing left is the journal prompts to get you started.
Note that I have endless journal prompts on this blog that you can always refer back to and a gorgeous guided journal that will help you get started with journaling.
Journal prompts for beginners:
Before diving into this area, remember that there is no right or wrong way of journaling. Just go with the flow and let it cleanse you from all your worries.
Let’s begin with some journaling prompts and then I will guide you on how to use them to bring out the best in yourself.
I highly suggest grabbing your new favorite journal before starting.
- What makes you jump with joy and takes your heart on a blissful journey of peace? ( talk about everything that brings joy into your life)
- Write a letter to the place you call ‘Home’? How safe and protected do you feel?
- If there was a time in this world where all the wishes are granted, what will be your top three wishes and why?
- How are you feeling at this current moment? Is there something bothering you? Write it out in detail.
- What are the five things that you love about yourself the most?
- If you can change one thing about yourself, what it will be, and why?
- Write down the three tiniest things in your life that you are most grateful for.
- What do you believe no longer serves you and is holding you back? Do you think you need to practice letting it go?
- What does forgiveness look like to you? What will you forgive yourself for today?
- How about living in a world full of kindness? Are you kind to yourself?
- What would you do if you finally believe in the idea of everything is possible?
These are a few prompts to get you started but I know you would be wondering how to use them.
How to journal using prompts?
When you are a beginner in the process of journaling, it is all okay to take the help of some prompts to get you started. Even I use the prompts to get me started and for some deeper understanding.
You can use the prompts chronologically or even abruptly pick out any number that calls your heart.
Just write down the prompt on your newest blank page and start writing endlessly until everything from your head is bumped on the paper.
I usually write three pages and sometimes two are also enough. But then everyone is different and we all have different journaling styles and techniques.
Do not worry if at first, the ideas fail to land. Just know that it will all come along with practice and dedication.
Here are some points to keep in mind while you begin to journal your thoughts:
- There is no right or wrong way to journal.
- Write about the first thing that comes into your mind while you start.
- Do not be hard on yourself. It’s okay to not know what to write at times, simply reflect within and talk to yourself.
- You don’t have to worry about any grammatical mistakes.
- Take it slowly, one day at a time.
- Write continuously for at least 15 mins or set a timer to avoid distractions.
- Honor yourself as you open up on these pages.
- Avoid having breaks during your writing practice.
- Do not judge yourself or be a self-critique while journaling.
- This is your safe place and it is totally up to you to keep it a secret or not.
I totally loved this acronym WRITE when it comes to journaling:
W- What you want to write
R – Reflect on your thoughts
I – Investigate where your thoughts are landing
T – Time yourself (a minimum of 15 mins is always recommended )
E – Exit with the introspection
What to do when it gets difficult to practice journaling?
Some days will be difficult, utterly difficult when you won’t be willing to face your journaling pages. On such days, you may totally feel like giving up and discontinuing this whole process.
But my dearest, believe that you are doing your best and I am proud of you for trying this art of journaling. It is all okay to rest and reduce your time or just write a single page on such tough days.
I personally feel drained out sometimes and on those days I begin my journaling with; I feel…I think….and it gives me the power to realize my thoughts and to choose again.
Remember, it’s totally okay to take breaks as you journal. You don’t want to make journaling a chore.
Think of journaling as a workout for your brain. You can always miss a day or two but get back to it the very next day without letting this break mean anything about you personally.
Journaling guide for beginners – Conclusion
My intention behind writing this long blog post was to get you started with journaling especially if you’re just a beginner. I want this blog post to be your guide that you can refer time and again whenever you feel stuck.
You see, journaling changed my life for the better and I want to same for you. I am highly intentional when it comes to creating content and calling in aligned souls for my offers. So, if you’re reading this know that this is not by chance or coincidence.
You were meant to read this, you were meant to be guided and you are meant to journal.
I can remember how a single blog post of someone on journaling changed my life and I want this post to serve the same for you.
I will keep updating this with all my recent learnings and experiences but I want you to leave a comment here and let me know what you struggle with when it comes to journaling. I would be more than happy to help and guide you.
Besides, do not forget to check the freebie page where I have all the free resources for you to begin journaling. Feel free to reach out to me @yourjournalcoach on IG.