How To Write A Daily Journal Even If You’re A Total Beginner

For adults, learning how to write a daily journal presents a huge opportunity… and maybe lots of questions about how it all works. First of all, it’s not as difficult as you may fear, especially with the tips from this article and some handy creative journaling exercises

Plus, considering how much there is on our plate every day, this is one piece of the puzzle that shouldn’t be neglected!

Text how to write a daily journal for beginners on white background over image of woman with long dark hair wearing a sweater and glasses sitting at a table and writing.

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Are you wondering… 

  • What’s the best way to start writing in a daily journal?
  • How should you choose what to write about?
  • How often should you write in your journal and for how long?
  • How can you make sure that your journaling is productive instead of just another task on your to-do list?
  • Should you use journal writing prompts

You’ll find answers to these questions (and more) with this guide for writing a daily journal, so let’s get started!

What Is Daily Journal Writing?

Okay, so maybe you’ve read little snippets about all these successful people who say the biggest turning point in their life was when they started journaling 

Suddenly, they got clarity on everything. Their whole life fell into alignment. They started making more money. Their relationships got better. Their kids started behaving. All of a sudden their house was clean and clutter-free. And basically, everything became magical.

Yeah… first of all, don’t believe everything you read. LOL

But second of all, daily journaling actually can help you. Because all that stuff that’s swirling around in your head? Your journal becomes a place to put it all and let it rest. And that DOES help with clarity and CAN feel kind of magical if it helps you get a little more control or feel less overwhelmed. 

So let’s talk today about how you can do a personal daily journal — because you’ll never know if it works for you unless you try!

How To Write A Daily Journal Entry

Find A Comfortable Place To Write

Whether that’s at your desk, in bed, or away from your house — find somewhere you’re not obligated to be anywhere else and can take the time to sit down and concentrate for a while each day.

Journaling Sessions

It can be helpful to journal in the same place and time every day, like after dinner or at breakfast. 

This will help make it a routine that becomes second nature and something we don’t have to think about doing. It becomes just part of our daily lives which promotes mindfulness (which is great for reducing stress).

How? If it helps, set an alarm so you don’t forget!

Give Yourself An Idea Of What The Journal Is Going To Be About

Whether it’s for just the next day or for several months, think about why you want to start writing. Let that guide your thoughts as they come up and you journal throughout the days ahead.

If there are things on your mind like fears, regrets, hopes — these may all become important topics that you could decide to deeply explore. 

Or maybe you want to use your daily journal to help you achieve certain goals.

If you have several ideas of what you want from your journal, set aside a page toward the front and use bullet points to make a list. That way you can easily go back through everything later when it comes time for reflection and closure on various topics.

Find A Journal That Doesn’t Intimidate You

Of course you want this journaling experience to feel special, but you don’t want the fear of ‘messing up’ a new journal to stop you from doing this. Try one of these best journals for writing.

What To Write In A Daily Journal

How should you choose what to write about?

I recommend that you write about anything and everything. That might sound a little daunting at first, but the point of journaling is to be completely honest with yourself. That means all your thoughts and feelings are fair game. From ‘How do I feel about work?’ to ‘What happened in this dream last night?’

Still stuck for ideas? Start here:

Write Down Your Goals Each Day

Woman with long dark hair wearing a sweater and glasses sitting at a table to do daily journal writing.

When thinking about how to write a daily journal, think about what your goals are for the day or week. How will writing in your journal help you achieve these? Make a note of them as well in this part of your journal and refer to it each evening before bedtime.

At night when we’re in bed with our thoughts racing and time dragging by, we can read over the notes from that day’s entry and see if there is anything else on our mind that needs to be taken care of tomorrow. The next morning, all those scattered pieces will come together as you plan out how to accomplish everything you wanted to do yesterday but didn’t get around to doing.

Use Words As Inspiration

How? Keep a running list of words that catch your attention. They can be new-to-you words or old favorites.

It’s fun to use single words as writing prompts. Or, if you come up with an entire group of words, it might even spark ideas for poems or songs!

Love the IDEA of single-word prompts but wish you had a list? Grab my collection of monthly single-word prompt lists… enough prompts to keep you writing for an entire year!

Try Journaling Prompts

If you are looking for helpful sparks for how to write a daily journal, there are journaling prompts that can be really helpful for getting started.

Here’s are some examples:

  • How does this day make you feel?
  • How does this day compare to other days in your life and the way they made you feel?
  • Do my feelings change from morning, noon, evening, night?
  • What made this day feel different than other days?
  • How did these feelings affect your thoughts, relationships with others, and the way you spent your time today?

Here are a few more options:

How Often Should You Write In Your Journal And For How Long?

Every day is best. If that’s too difficult or overwhelming, start with a more manageable time — such as quiet Sunday mornings. Add days as you feel more capable. Do your best to make sure you’re consistent!

How To Find Time Each Day To Write In Your  Daily Journal

The best way to find time each day to write in your journal is to establish the habit as part of your routine. How you do this will depend on what type of schedule you keep, but there are three basic ways to make time for journaling:

  • Make it an integral part of your morning ritual by writing before breakfast — morning coffee is optional.
  • Write after dinner — in bed or sitting at the table with your favorite beverage and maybe some dessert.
  • Take five minutes every evening when you’re winding down from work, kids’ activities, or just life’s daily hassles to reflect back over that day and jot down a few gratitudes or memories.

How long you write is completely up to you. You can journal for as little as 5 minutes, as long as an hour, or anywhere in between. Most people find about 15-20 minutes is long enough to get their most important thoughts out and feel like they’ve had a productive journaling session.

How Can You Make Sure That Your Journaling Is Productive?

One of the worst things that can happen to a journaler is that it becomes just another task on the to-do list. How can you prevent that?

Focus on what makes these sessions important to you personally. 

Journal with purpose — don’t stare at a blank page. If the words won’t flow, write about THAT — or mix it up with some creative ways to journal. You’ll find some pretty interesting things tend to emerge. 😉 

Turn it into part of your self-care routine.

List out some goals beforehand — how often and how long you will journal, what you expect to write about every day, what you hope journaling will do for you, etc.

Having these ideas in place will give you a reason to journal… which makes it something you look forward to doing. If you feel like it’s becoming a chore, and you’ve been at it for at least a month, step back and re-examine your goals and expectations.

Options For Journal Writing

Woman in shorts and green tank top sitting by pool while writing in a daily journal.

Journals and Notebooks With Lined or Dotted Pages

There’s something about putting pen to paper that sparks creativity or taps deep thoughts we may not have felt before when typing words on a screen. Plus, the dot grid versions are great for sketching out ideas if you want an outlet for your artistic side too.

These come blank so it’s up to you what type of notebook suits your needs best — from spiral-bound notebooks perfect for everyday use, compact options that fit easily inside purses or back pockets, to luxurious leather journals where you can record your most treasured memories.

Digital Journaling

If you’re more of a techy person and find it easier to write in an online format instead — this is the perfect way to keep up with those daily reflections while also taking advantage of all the features digital journals have like highlighting text or uploading photos. There are several journaling apps available — find one that works best for you. 

Creative Journaling

If the idea of ‘just writing’ every day makes your eye twitch, you may be more interested in how to write a creative journal. There is so much freedom in being creative, even when writing! One of these creative writing journals could be exactly what you’re looking for. 

Gratitude Journals

One of the most popular types of journaling is a gratitude journal. It’s like your own personal happy list where you write down everything that made you grateful or just gave you happiness during the day.

It can be as simple as things like ‘the smell in my kitchen when I came home from work’ to more complex thoughts about’ how living through the recession helped me become the person I am today,’ or ‘how my friends are always there for me when times get tough.’

It’s a great way to start our day off on a positive note with something to remind us of all that is good in life. It also helps release stress from earlier thoughts too, so it can be a good way to wind down at the end of the day.

Try these printable gratitude prompts to get you started.  

Final Thoughts

Here’s one final tip on the topic of how to write a daily journal: Don’t feel the need to be perfect! 

Scribble out words. Write in cursive some days and print on others. Grab a half-used notebook leftover from your kid’s previous school year to start if that’s all you have. Practice, adapt… and RELAX!

Keep things fresh so you’re actually excited about daily journaling as you Build Your Best Life.

You’ve got this!

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2 thoughts on “How To Write A Daily Journal Even If You’re A Total Beginner”

  1. I am a long time journaler and over time I have found the biggest help journaling has given me is the ability to process my feelings and thoughts before they come out of my mouth. I have been so upset with people, only to turn to my journal and realize it wasn’t the snippy woman at the office, but my sister I was really upset with. That has helped me let go of petty noise in my head and really think about the root of my discontent. I have journals that are full of all sorts of things. Thank you for this post!

  2. I love to journal, but I don’t do it nearly enough. I can relate to what you said about not having too intimidating of a journal. I’ve always struggled with that a bit because I love pretty journals so much, but I do have a perfectionism issue. When I was young, I just used spiral notebooks and wrote and wrote. I still have those, and they are treasures (and funny, too!) Thanks for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things party!

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