New Notebook, Who Dis: Five Tips on How to Start Journaling for Beginners

How to start a new journal.
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Tip One: Set Your Intentions on the First Page of Your Journal

When you’re looking at a book in a store, the first thing you notice is the cover. There’s imagery, a title, and other elements that give you clues on what the book is about. If the designer did their job right, the rest of the contents will support the cover. Before I begin a journal, I always make sure to set my intentions on the first page to communicate what my journal is about, similar to what a novel’s cover would do. Beginning your journal by writing your intentions will also help you keep writing new entries when you’re feeling stuck.

  1. How will I use this journal to improve myself?
  2. How am I going to use this journal to achieve my goals?
  3. Why am I starting this journal?
  4. What do I want this journal to mean to me?
  5. What kind of energy do I want to give to my notebook? What’s the vibe?

Tip Two: Your Journal is a No Judgement Zone

There are plenty of places where you can receive judgment, even when you’re not asking for it. Your journal shouldn’t be one of those places. Sure, judge others and situations in your journal entries, and critique the behaviors that you want to improve. However, spare yourself criticism about your writing style or penmanship.

Tip Three: No Pressure, Go at Your Own Pace

#Selfcare has been a trend on social media for some years, and I love that our culture is making mental health and wellness mainstream. If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because you recognize that journaling has benefits to your mental health and self-care. However, I often see people who are working on their self-care treat these tools like jobs. I’m guilty of it too. Phone calls with my sisters almost always lead us to shame about how we need to do more yoga, meditate, and journal more to become better people. Pressuring yourself and getting down about not using these tools is the antithesis of their purpose. The frequency in which you write is not a measurement of its value to you. No matter if you write every day or once a month, your journal is a place to explore and sometimes play when you feel moved.

Tip Four: Don’t Let Your Past Experiences with other Journals Stop You

Don’t let your past experiences with journals stop you from starting a new one. If you’re like me, you have many journals that you started but never finished. Don’t let your guilt of not completing a journal cover to cover stop you from starting a new one. As I’ve mentioned earlier, journals have energy. Maybe that journal from last year doesn’t inspire you to write in it anymore. That is okay! Perhaps you’ll only write a few entries in the new journal and then forget it on your nightstand. If you’re a completionist, maybe try a smaller journal or one with fewer pages.

Tip Five: Write Anywhere and Anytime

There’s a lot of romanticism in pop culture about keeping a journal. I think this is why so many people struggle with perfectionism when starting a journal. You don’t need to be Henry David Thoreau and take your journal out into the woods. You don’t need to be an angsty teen like Winona Ryder in the movie Heathers, locked away in your bedroom as you write ferociously. You don’t need the perfect place or time to write. I write during my work breaks in my car. I write in bed, and I write at two am and sometimes at noon. I write when I feel like it’s the only way I can organize my thoughts. The perfect place doesn’t exist, although there are magical places that make you want to pull out your pen.

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Bryonna Sieck

Bryonna Sieck

Scrapbooker, book artist, and stationery lover. She co-owns 1134 Press, an indie publisher and stationery shop. Visit for more!