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.
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Pilot G2 07 Gel Pen
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.
Uni-Ball Jetstream SXN-150 Gel Rollerball Pen
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.
Uni-ball Signo 207 RT Gel Rollerball Pen
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.
Pilot V Series Liquid Ink Rollerball Pens
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.