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Best Journaling Tips for Beginners: What I Wish I Knew

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Journaling for the first time is hard.

Because I didn’t have any direction or sound advice, I gave up on journaling pretty quickly.

Luckily, I gave it another chance and was a lot more intentional the second time around.

As a result, I have seen major changes in my mood and productivity. Ever since then, I’ve incorporated journaling in my daily rituals.

Learning how to journal for the first time is tricky because there is too much advice on the topic.

There’s also many different types of journaling, such as bullet journaling, gratitude journals, affirmation journals, art journals, dream journals, and much more. 😅

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the surplus of information.

Despite that, I found that journaling is an amazing tool to for finding solutions to your problems, self-discovery, and clarity.

In this blog post, I’ll be going over my top journaling tips for beginners and everything I wish I knew when I started the first time around.

If I knew these tips, it would make my journaling experience a more seamless and enjoyable one.

Resource: 5 Powerful Reasons Why you Need to Start Journaling

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

1. It’s Ok if Your Journal Doesn’t Look Perfect

When I journaled for the first time, I thought my journal had to look picture perfect like the ones you see on Instagram.

I focused more on aesthetics as opposed to functionality.

Focusing so much on aesthetics hindered my journaling practice. I spent more time erasing and re-writing things as opposed to just journaling.

It’s ok if your journal doesn’t look like the ones you see on social media. My journal is full of messy writing and that’s ok! I like my journals raw and honest.

And, let’s be real: Self-discovery and finding yourself isn’t a neat, picturesque experience.

In journaling, I find that throwing away your perfectionism allows you to journal better. You’ll then be able to focus on what really matters.

2. Journaling Digitally is valid and is still journaling

For a while, I had this notion that journaling on paper was the proper way to journal, and anything else wasn’t considered “journaling”

But in reality, I have always preferred digital mediums over paper ones.

Personally, I like to journal on my iPad and Apple Pencil.

Since I digital plan and am mostly paperless, it fits into my lifestyle better.

I currently journal in my all-in-one Clarity Planner. I personally like the extra privacy that comes along with digital journaling.

Journaling isn’t about the medium you do it in. Journaling is an act of writing: writing about your day, life, and the mere act of self-discovery and self-reflection.

Typing out your thoughts on your phone, laptop, or iPad is still journaling. It’s as valid as keeping a paper journal.

3. You can make up your own rules

There’s so many people saying what you can and can’t do with journaling.

Rules dictating how long you have to journal, the frequency, what type of journal you should use, the pens you should use, and more.

However, I believe that you should make your own rules when it comes to journaling.

Feel free to try different things out, but if something works better than other things, stick with it! Find what works best for you and implement that into your journaling practice.

If you find that journaling everyday is tiring and burns you out, don’t do that. And if you prefer to journal in bullet points rather than writing long paragraphs, than that is a valid point.

Don’t worry too much about what people have to say. It’s your journal: it’s for your own benefit after all.

I personally journal everyday because I like to observe my thoughts, but if it’s not for you, you don’t have to do it.

4. If you’re writing in a paper journal, be sure to use archival pens

I remember when I made the mistake of writing in my paper journal (before I switched to digital) with a cheap ballpoint pen.

Unfortunately, the writing in that journal is unreadable and cannot be saved. 😔

But luckily, you can prevent the fiasco I went through by using archival pens if you decide to go the paper journaling route.

Archival pens are designed to be resistant to fading and weathering. The ink in archival pens are made to last for a long time.

With normal, non-archival ink, the writing in the notebook will start to fade over time. If you wanted to read an old notebook, you might find some parts illegible due to the ink fading or smudging.

However, with archival pens/inks, the writing will remain crisp and legible for at least a century without any degradation.

If you need help finding or choosing some archival pens, here are some of my personal top suggestions:

Sakura Pigma Micron Blister Card Ink Pen Set in Black

I loved and swore by these pens when I used my paper journals. My ink writing and drawings from ten years ago still look the same.

Uni-ball Deluxe Rollerball Pens, Micro Point (0.5mm), Black, 3 Count

When I was paper journaling, I also enjoyed using these pens.

The ink was very smooth, buttery, and silky. The thickness of the pen was perfect for my journaling needs.

Suggested Post: 13 Best Bullet Journal Pens Everyone Should Own

5. Be intentional with your journaling practice

When I journaling for the first time, I only used my journal to vent.

That was all I did with it.

I basically affirmed my negative thought patterns, didn’t bother to challenge my current train of thinking, and fell in this loop of negativity.

I also didn’t help that I didn’t have a have a set journaling strategy. I just used my journal as my personal punching bag.

However, when I immediately saw results when I started to journal more intentionally and strategically.

Although it’s great to have an outlet for when you’re feeling down or angry, it’s important to approach your journal with intention and purpose.

Each time you journal, consider asking, why am I journaling? What’s my objective for today.

It’s ok to vent and let out some steam, but be intentional when you do it. Make sure don’t default to venting, but instead, come to it intentionally.

If you’re looking for some extra help, I have strategic journaling exercises you can incorporate into your journaling practice.

These prompts and exercises are great for those looking for clarity and self-discovery, especially for those who are lost in life.


Journaling is a great practice that everyone can benefit from. Why do you keep a journal? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

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