Woman ready to write in a journal

Starting A Journal: An Ultimate Guide

Do you have a journal? It could be a gratitude journal, an affirmations journal or just an everyday journal to write your thoughts in.

In this post you will learn what a journal is, the types of journals you can start, and how to get started with your own.

The Purpose of a Journal

A journal has many purposes. It can be used for a grieving parent or spouse to write their feelings in during the healing process.

It can be a gratitude journal to write the things you are thankful for. It can be a personal journal that you simply write the days events in.

The idea of a journal is to keep track of your thoughts, your actions, your goals, and more.

It is a written account that you can go back and read in the future. You can even pass it down to your children when you are older.

A blank journal

Deciding Which Journal is Right for You

There are many types of journals you can start. You can decide which is the best for you. You will want to start one that relates to whatever is going on in your life currently.

If you are on a weight loss journey then a weight loss journal is for you. Maybe you travel a lot, so a travel journal may be the one to start.

Types of Journals to Consider

  • Grief: To express your feelings while grieving, can be daily or weekly
  • Affirmations: To keep track of positive affirmations you wish to repeat, written in as new affirmations are learned
  • Gardening: To track planting and harvesting dates for herbs or vegetables, seed charts, etc…
  • Gratitude: To write things you are thankful for, usually done daily
  • Food/Weight Loss: To track meals or foods and/or weight loss, usually done daily, weekly or monthly
  • Fitness: To track workouts and calories burned, can be used daily or weekly
  • Travel: To keep a written account of where you travel and what you see and do, used when traveling
  • Self Care: To keep track of self care routines, spa days and so forth, used daily or weekly usually
  • Personal: Like a diary, used to write the days or weeks experiences and feelings, used daily
  • Relationship: To track changes in your relationships, date ideas and more, used as needed

Remember that the above ideas are just a starting out point to know what your journal’s purpose is. How you set it up and what you will include have endless possibilities.

Food journal

Basic Supplies Needed

Journaling supplies are an endless list. However, they usually require two things – something to write in and something to write with. We will explore both of these options first. Then we can get creative.

Something to Write in

The very first supply you will need is paper. It can be an extravagant notebook you purchase or a simple dollar store notebook. As long as you can write on it or in it, it will work.

You can choose lined or unlined paper. Some people choose to use a dotted page instead of lines. This is a matter of personal preference.

You will want to make sure the paper is on the heavier side so ink does not bleed through. Also stay away from glossy paper because this sometimes make even the best inks to smear.

A simple three-ring binder can be used with looseleaf paper, but I will warn you those papers will fall out after normal wear and tear.

Pre-made journals are available in every store that sells office supplies. My favorites are on Amazon, HERE.

Something to Write With

This is my favorite part of keeping a journal – the pens! You may not think the pen is important, but let me explain why they are.

Of the many, many pens available, they are not all quality pens. Some pens will write beautifully and smooth but may smear on the page.

There is nothing worse than to have a whole page of thoughts written and when you close the book, the ink smears because it was not dry yet.

I recommend using pens that don’t smear or bleed through the page. Unfortunately, unless the store allows you to try them first, you will have to simply find a page in the back of your journal and write with them.

If they don’t bleed or smear, you have a winner.

Here are the pens that I prefer.

Journaling pens

Other Supplies

How you design and use your journal is up to you. However, there are some supplies that may be of use to you. Remember that these are optional but some products mentioned can make things easier such as a ruler for making straight lines.

Optional Supplies:

  • Ruler: Can come in handy for making lines on a page
  • Paper clips: To attach photos, receipts, or other information to a page
  • Correction fluid: Eliminates messy pages when you make a mistake
  • Stickers: To decorate your pages
  • Ribbon or Page Band: To keep your place
Woman using a ruler to draw lines in journal page

Starting Your Journal

Now that you know the purpose and have all of your supplies, you can start writing

The one thing that 99% of journal pages have in common is a date. The date is a way of knowing what happened or when. It may not seem important now, but it will later when you look back and reread your entries.

After your date is on the page you can begin the writing or tracking process. This may be different across the types of journals you may be starting. Let me explain.

If you are keeping a weight loss journal your entries will include dates and weight amounts. These may be daily, weekly or monthly. If you are tracking food also you may only list your meals consumed, with recorded weight once a week only.

If you are keep a self-care journal, your pages may be more beauty tricks and dates you went to the spa than entries daily of what you did.

It is important to decide what information you will be recording and how often you will add an entry.

Question to Ask Yourself Before Starting

  • What is the frequency I will write in it? Daily, weekly?
  • Will I need to make trackers or charts of some sort to keep my information organized?
  • Do I need to attach receipts or other papers to any pages?

Once you have answered the above questions you will better understand how to fill in your pages better.

Blank journal on table with pen and a cup of hot coffee

Where to Go from Here

You have a pretty good idea of what you need, and how to get started.. Are you ready to start one for yourself?

Pick the type you wish to start, gather your supplies, decide its purpose, and start writing.

Do you have other types of journals you might use that are not mentioned here? Tell me about them in the comments below.