How to Start Journaling

by | Jun 21, 2019 | Last updated Jan 10, 2023

To many, journaling seems like an excellent idea, but it feels a bit daunting to get started. You may not know where to start with writing, or what to even use to write with. Thousands of thoughts run through our heads each day, but we may wonder which ones are valuable enough to put down on a piece of paper. Scientific research has shown that simply putting your thoughts down on paper can have positive benefits to our mental, emotional, and physical health (Philip). Let’s learn how to start a journaling practice!

Set yourself up for success

  1. Acquire a notebook or journal that inspires you and you enjoy using. Having a fun writing utensil such as a colored sharpie, ink pen, or your favorite pencil is another way to add some creativity to your journal practice. Keep these treasured items easily accessible.
  2. Pick a specific time of day or place where you want to start journaling. For some, this may be right at the beginning of the day, during a lunch break, or at night immediately before bed. Developing a solid routine with journaling is key to honing this as a regular habit. It might even be helpful to set a daily alarm to master the practice of writing! This is known as habit bundling and is explained deeper in Noom’s curriculum.
  3. Set the mood! Choose an environment where you feel comfortable to write freely, and make it inviting. Try lighting a candle, using an oil diffuser, grabbing your favorite blanket or pet, or surrounding yourself in a place where you feel relaxed, such as by a body of water or on your favorite bench at a park. This will be unique to you, and can vary on a day-to-day basis! Journaling can be done anywhere and everywhere.

Let your creativity flow

If you have the proper writing equipment and an idea of what you’d like to write, it’s time to begin! Journaling can be performed in many different styles. You can start with daily thoughts/ ideas, a list of things you’re grateful for, a free flowing stream of thoughts, or you can write about something specific (like one of these prompt ideas)!

Get inspired with journaling prompts

Here is a short list of prompts for writing by category that can get the creative juices flowing:

Keep it simple

  • Using 10 words, describe yourself.
  • What has surprised you most about your life, or life in general?
  • I feel most energized when…..
  • The words I’d like to live by are…
  • Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you had a plan fall spectacularly to pieces?

Create lists

  • Things you’d done that you previously thought you could never do.
  • Places you’ve enjoyed visiting.
  • Your top 5 short term goals.
  • Your top 5 long term goals.
  • List 10 things that make you smile.
  • Make a list of people in your life who genuinely support you, and who you can genuinely trust.
  • Make a list of everything you’d like to say no to.
  • Make a list of everything you’d like to say yes to.

Reflect on your week

  • What did you do this week that moved you closer to reaching your goals?
  • Is there anything you did this week that you wish you’d done differently?What did you most enjoy doing this week?
  • What did you learn this week?

Dream big

  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  • What would you ask for if a genie granted you 3 wishes?
  • What is your wildest dream?
  • What would your perfect day be like?
  • If could become an expert in any subject or activity, what would it be?

These are just some simple prompts to get you started! Everyone’s writing practice looks different, so get creative and feel free to develop yours as you put pen to paper. For some people, it can be helpful to set a timer for the amount of time you want to write for initially. You can even start with writing for one minute and slowly progress from there!

Journaling is solely yours and privacy is guaranteed.  The time spent journaling is for you and no one else. The only strict rule to journaling is that there are no rules! Start with imagining what an ideal journaling practice would look like to you and pick one step to get you closer to that ideal moment. Leaving you with this writing inspiration from William Wordsworth, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” Go forth and happy journaling!