The Top 4 Tips on How to Start Writing a Journal

How to start writing a journal contains top tips on finding the right journal, which pen to write with, advice about routines and using the 5 W’s when you first start journaling.

If you’re a person who enjoys good pens – and really, who doesn’t? – then it’s a shame not to do as much writing as possible. A great way to do that: Start and maintain a journal.

Every day, you’ll get to spend a few minutes savoring the feel of your favorite pen in your hand, laying down fluid, sleek lines of ink on richly textured paper. Those are sensations we get to experience too infrequently these days as it is. Plus, your writing, both the content and appearance, will get better with all that practice, guaranteed.

 

Besides, our brains are like hard drives. They can only store so much data before it starts getting corrupted. Go ahead, try remembering what you were doing on Feb. 8, 2000. Better yet, try remembering what you were thinking and feeling that day. Not there, is it? That’s the beauty of a journal. It keeps all of that information right where you can easily access it, and pass it on to your loved ones if you wish.

Top Tips On How to Start Writing a Journal

If you’re unsure of how to start writing a journal, not a problem. We’ve got some suggestions.

Find The Right Journal

You might be more likely to stick with your journaling if you had to spend a little money on the journal. Any stockist or office supply store will carry them, or you can order online from any number of outlets. In fact, there are so many choices, it might be easy to get confused.

Rhodia Moleskine Nortbooks Journals

We recommend that you start with one of the more popular types. Moleskine & Rhodia are the big hitters when it comes to notebooks & journals. Although the relative newcomer Northbooks is proving to be very popular with customers in the USA due to its commitment to providing high-quality journals at affordable prices.

Moleskine journals have a choice of lined or blank paper whereas Rhodia and Northbooks offer their journals with lined, blank or dot grid paper.

Moleskine Notebooks

Moleskine is an Italian brand famous for making high-quality fashionable notebooks in both soft and hardcovers. They are known to be a firm favorite with writers for bullet journaling.

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Rhodia Notebooks

Rhodia is famous for its orange and black livery and the quality of their writing paper in their notebooks and journals, which is more fountain pen friendly than other brands.

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Northbooks

As we previously mentioned the new boy on the block are NorthBooks which are made in the U.S and gaining a growing bunch of admirers due to their affordable prices and decent quality paper.

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Choose a Comfortable & Smooth-Writing Pen

When it comes to pens there is a huge array to choose from and a lot of it comes down to personal preference. ideally, you want a smooth writing pen that you can use for long periods. Ballpoint pens are not as popular for journaling as they require a little more downforce and can create indentions in the stacked paper.

These leaves either a gel pen or a liquid ink rollerball pen. If you would like to know more about the different types of pen check out our post Ballpoint, Rollerball or Gel: which Pen is Best For You.

Pentel Energel XM Gel Rollerball Pen

Pentel Energel XM Pen

Personally, I prefer the Pentel EnerGel Xm Retractable Rollerball Pen BL77 with black ink, it is a super smooth writer with quick-drying ink (good for left-handers) the pen has a 0.7mm tip and is available in a wide choice of ink colors. Overall, I think it is one of the best pens out there for smoothness and reliability.

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Pilot G2 07 Gel Pen

Pilt G2 07 Black 161019

That said however there are many other pens that would do quite nicely, The Pilot G2 07 is possibly one of the most reviewed pens on the internet and another one of my favorites, again it is a very smooth writer with bold ink colors although it takes slightly longer for the ink to dry than the Pentel Energel XM.

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Uni-Ball Jetstream SXN-150 Gel Rollerball Pen

Uni Jetstream SXN 150 Black

The Uni-ball Jetstream pens are renowned for having a great gel writing experience particularly the Uni Jetstream Hybrid Ink Rollerball Pen SXN-150 which is available in a choice of colors.

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Uni-ball Signo 207 RT Gel Rollerball Pen

Ini Ball UMN 207 Black

Also, the Uni-ball Signo 207 RT Gel Rollerball Pen is a smooth writing pen with a comfortable rubber grip. The nice thing about it is that they use Super Ink, which is supposed to be acid-free and fade-resistant, so your words will stick around and hopefully still be legible many years from now.

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Pilot V Series Liquid Ink Rollerball Pens

Pilot V5 Hi Tecpoint Black

The Pilot V Series pens which are known in the USA as Pilot Precise pens are smooth free-flowing liquid ink pens. They are available with a 0.5mm or 0.7mm tip and the ink is wetter than a gel pen, therefore, it takes longer to dry. This may cause a little bleed through on certain notebooks.

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Fountain Pens

Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen

If you’re a fountain pen person, you may want to stick with the Rhodia web notebooks because the Moleskines have a reputation for feathering with fountain pen ink. They also tend to have bleed-thru with wet pens. for those who are interested, this is a Cross Classic Century Medalist Fountain Pen, it’s a great writer with a really slim profile which is part of its charm.

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Create a Journaling Routine

Now that you have your supplies, you need to set up a time and place to do your journaling. Having a set routine will help ensure that you stick to it. The key here is to make it easy because the easier it is to do, the more likely that you are to actually do it.

 

Dont Forget to Write it Down

Choose a place to keep your journal (and make sure your pen stays with it) so that it’s always in the same spot, somewhere you’ll see it before you go to bed and close to where you will do your writing. At the same time every day, turn off your cell phone/TV/computer, put on something comfortable, make yourself a cup of tea and go to your writing spot to spend a few minutes gathering your thoughts and putting them down in your journal.

Remember, don’t treat it like a chore. This is something you want to do. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day…you’ll start to dread it.

Start with the 5 W’s

The first thing you need to write in the inside cover is your name and the date you started the journal. When you get to the last page, go back and put the ending date. That will help you keep them organized when you start filling up journals.

Person Journalling

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

For your very first entry, you might want to explain a little about where you are in your life at that point, why you’re starting a journal, and what you hope to accomplish with the process. That way, anyone you allow to read your journal in the future will have a better understanding of the context.

Then, not sure what goes in your daily entries? Start with the 5 Ws – who you saw and spoke to that day, what you thought and did, where you went, when you did it and why. Obviously, you just want to pick the significant moments, rather than a chronicle of your entire day. Finally, add an H, for how you felt about the events of the day.

Start with 5 W

 

At some point, you’re going to sit down to write and realize that you’re stuck and don’t know what to say. When that happens, write that you aren’t sure what to write, then keep writing down whatever pops into your head, until you get unstuck. Sometimes you have to prime the pump to get it flowing.

There’s no set length for how much you have to write. The story takes exactly as long as it takes. Just say what you have to say, then stop writing. It might be a few paragraphs, or it might be five pages. Sometimes, the most powerful feelings can be described in a sentence. When Teddy Roosevelt’s wife died, he wrote only a large X and the words, “The light has gone out of my life,” in his journal.

Again, if you miss a day, or several, or even a few weeks or months, don’t get down about it. Just go back to your journal, write a little recap of what’s been happening while you’ve been gone, then keep going day to day.

If you want to improve your writing and make it neater and be able to write faster then check out our guide How to Write faster and Neater in 6 Simple Steps.

Also, journaling is a great way to learn a foreign language  It is well known that writing down foreign vocabulary and syntax is a great way of improving your recall and understanding of a new language.

Hopefully, this is enough to get you started. Good luck, and happy writing, when you are not writing you may be interested in how to store your pens to keep them safe and prevent them from drying out.

We’d love to hear from any of you who are just start journals or those who’ve been journaling for years.

20 thoughts on “The Top 4 Tips on How to Start Writing a Journal”

  1. Thanks for sharing! I made a journaling app to improve my self-awareness and emotional intelligence. It’s a micro-journal (<140 character entries) so writing multiple entries a day takes a few minutes. Each entry is associated with a mood, so the app provides some really neat ways to self-reflect. For instance, I can see all the reasons of why I felt a particular mood (happy, sad, annoyed or stress) during the past few weeks. I’ve been using the app for over 60 days and happier because of it. You can check out the free journal here – http://www.getstigma.com

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  2. These are some great posts people!
    I started a journal when I was in australia by hand but because I tend to have so much to say/write I moved onto recording my thoughts on thr computer. Does anyone else use computers or do you think it isimportant to write by hand as its more personal?
    I want to add that I am amazed how powerful keeping a journal can makeyou feel 🙂

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  3. My new years resolution is to start a journal again. I wrote pretty often between the ages of 9 and 13. Then I found out my mother was reading my journal and I stopped completely. I’m now 30. I was looking for tips how to start up again. Being a huge fan of fun office supplies like notebooks and pens I find I can really relate to this post. Thanks for the tips.

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  4. hello everyone!
    I have a exercise, “suppose you feel a sleep today and awankened 20 years from now, write a journal to reveal your feelings and attitudes towards the changes around you”. I have learnt “Rip Van Winkle” in American literature. This is the first time I have written journal so I hope that you can help me, please. Thank so muchhhhh 🙂

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  5. I am gland to have known how to write a journal and i now can train my other friends, pupils and children how to do a perfect journal.
    Thanks

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  6. It was extremely interesting for me to read this post. I would like to read a bit more soon.

    Bella Simpson

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  7. Hi Tony, not exactly sure where I heard of the ‘green ink brigade’ but it was some years ago and likely to be from The Guardian newspaper. It does seem fairly well documented as can be seen from the following:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/green-ink+brigade
    Green-ink brigade
    n
    Informal a collective term for people who write abusive or threatening letters to people in the public eye
    [from the idea that only the eccentric would write in green ink]

    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

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  8. I’ve always held that using a pen is great for the creative process – though it’s easier to produce careful constructions on a computer. Something about the fact that when you delete in a Word document, the mistake is permanently gone! So in practice I find myself switching between pens and PCs depending on where I’m at creatively.

    Great post – really enjoyed it.

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  9. Good post Tony.

    I have been journalling for about 4 years and find it extremely therapeutic. Getting some ideas, thoughts and the occasional rant is a good way of relieving stress. Sometimes, it’s simply a way of getting ones thoughts in order. I like an A4 notebook just to have plenty of space and like Anton, find the Claire-Fontaine good. Personally, I don’t stick to one type of pen or even the same colour of ink, it just makes it more individual. Having said that, I don’t use green ink as I read somewhere that this is used primarily by would-be assassins and those guys who write crazy 50 page rants to newspapers or politicians!!

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    • LOL. Note to self: Green ink = nutcase. I’ll have to remember that one. Bob, if you remember where you saw that, can you send it to me? That’s definitely worth some follow-up.

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  10. I recommend journaling with a Pilot Varsity fountain pen. You can buy them in a one, two, three, or seven pack – with 7 different colors. A single pen runs $3-4. I get the 3-pack with black, blue, and purple at the local Staples store for $6. That’s only $2 for each pen – cheap! Fountain pens need quality paper, like that found in Rhodia notebooks. Don’t use them in the now-made-in-china Moleskine books. That paper will bleed and soak through – terrible stuff. Claire-Fontaine notebooks are also fountain pen worthy.

    Join my Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen group on Facebook. Big fun!

    Anton
    Syracuse, NY

    Reply
    • Hey, thanks for adding that…the Pilot Varsity (called a VPen in the UK) is an excellent choice, and I forgot about all the colours they come in.

      Reply
  11. I’ve had a journal in my life ever since I was about 9 years old. It started with a black & white marble composition notebook and now it’s a Moleskine. I sometimes didn’t keep up with it for months or years in between, but I always came back. There was always this desire to slow down time and sort out my thoughts on paper. Not only does it record the past, but it helps me stay sane in the present and plan for the future.

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    • A few years ago, when I decided I was going to start journaling, I bought four of those composition notebooks. Journaling didn’t happen, and I ended up using the notebooks to raise my monitor a little higher on my desk. Now, I’ve just been using little reporter notebooks to keep track of my days.

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  12. What a great post! I’m glad to see the growing trend of people who journal. Good call on the Rhodia as well.

    The 5 Ws is really helpful too. Just start anywhere. Once you begin, you’re already doing the right thing. Time wasted on deliberation is just that. Make a mistake and correct it later. If it’s in your personal journal, how bad could that possibly be? There’s not much at stake — whenever possible, act. Or relax. One or the other.

    We just started a handwritten journal snapshot experiment – visit the online lit magazine Di Mezzo Il Mare at http://dimezzoilmare.com to submit yours. It only takes a sec.

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