Thoughts, ideas, and inspiration for how to start journaling - step by step ideas for a daily diary including Bible writing and Christian prayer. These prompts make it simple and easy to get started.
As you might have guessed, I love to write. I have a strong inner monologue, and I am almost always either reading (or rather, usually listening to an audiobook) or composing something new in my brain. It just happens; I can't control it.
I have a strong writing habit, both here on my blog and in a journal, but it hasn't always been that way. I remember as a kid, I imagined that I was a famous journalist (like Barbara Walters), writing important stories for the newspaper and composing celebrated interviews in my head.
I didn't have a journal back then.
But today, I do journal quite a bit. I start almost every day with what I like to call my morning pages. My morning pages are 2-3 handwritten pages in my journal, written first thing before I start my day. I start every entry with "Today is going to be a great day." and then I proceed to write whatever pops into my head, and sometimes "I don't know what else to write." because that always prompts some new train of thought.
But if you don't have an established journaling habit and want to start one, it can be hard to know what to write. Staring at a blank page with no idea how to proceed is a sure way to spur writer's block before you've even written the date on the page.
What follows are my suggestions for what to write in those first few days and weeks of your new journaling habit. If you follow my method, and you write in your journal more days than you do not write, then you will soon have developed a solid habit of writing that will last you for many years to come.
As with all habits, it's helpful to tie your journaling to an existing habit so that you remember to do it. I always go to my home office 15 minutes before I want to start working, and I write in my journal as soon as I sit down in my chair. I keep the journal and my pen case right there on the desk so that I am reminded and don't forget. I don't go into the office on non-work days, and I never remember to write those days either. So having the journal linked in your mind to something you always do is a real key to making writing a habit.
How to Create a 10-Minute Journaling Habit
My favorite journal right now is my Denik Join the Movement Notebook because it has a space for the date at the top, it has a spiral binding, and the pages are big enough for a lot of words but not so big that it takes too long to fill up 2-3 pages.
I write in my journal with Pilot G2 pens. They are my favorite for smoothness and reliability, and I have a thing about not writing in the same color during any 4-day period, and this pack comes with enough colors to allow me to do that. I know; I'm weird.
Time of day
I think morning is the best time to do this because it helps you look at and plan for the day ahead. But if your best time to journal is during your lunch break, after work, or before bed, don't let the time of day hold you back. Just write about tomorrow or whatever time is stretching in front of you.
What to write about in your journal
You may or may not have time for all of these every day, depending on how much time you have allotted to your journaling and how much you have to say. You can pick and choose whatever feels right for you, but I do think you should always start with #1.
- Begin with an intention. Begin your journal entry in the same way that I begin mine. Write the date at the top, and then write these words or some version thereof:
Today is going to be a great day.
There are awesome things in store for me today.
I can't wait to see what God has for me today.
It might sound hokey, but it makes a real difference to your day when you set an intention like this. Your subconscious will work hard to make it true.
Then, after writing your statement for today, write whatever comes to mind. Maybe your brain will tell you why it isn't going to be a great day (this happens to me all. the. time.). So write that down. Maybe you will think of all the good things you've been looking forward to. Write them down. Write down whatever this statement triggers for you.
- On my mind. Next, do a big brain dump and record anything that's niggling you. It could be to do list items, thoughts about the day before or the day to come, grocery shopping lists, whatever is in there begging to come out. A brain dump is always helpful because it allows your brain to let things go knowing that they have been recorded. Your mind no longer has to remember those things. I almost always do this, and it almost always takes up the entire time I have allotted to writing. That may not be the case for you though, and it's totally okay to quickly move on to #3.
- What went right. Record at least 3 things that went right yesterday. It's important to think about what you're doing well so that you can recreate those successes in other areas of your life. Think about highlights of the day, things you personally did well, and anything that made you feel good. It could be as big as landing an important client or as small as enjoying a cookie after the kids went to bed. Whatever went right in your world is fair game.
- What would have made yesterday better? I like the idea of starting with what went right, but it's also important to record what you can improve on. Every day has both good and bad, and you can learn as much from the rough patches as you can from the smooth ones. Maybe you went to bed too late, didn't eat the way you intended, or yelled at your family. These are all valid things to look at. Or maybe your husband was snarky and you aren't proud of how you responded. Write down whatever you can think of that would make your next day a little better.
- I'm thankful for. Every day, I try to write at least 3 things that I'm thankful for, and I never write generic things like my family or my home or my husband. I only write specific things I can honestly be thankful for, like grilled cheese made in my new Microgrill and grocery store shelves all stocked up and getting a 30-pack of toilet paper delivered by UPS. Times like these change your priorities, don't they? Maybe you can come up with many more than 3 items to be thankful for. That's good! Write them all down. But if you can only put down one or two, then go with it and move on. Don't let yourself get stuck.
- Bible writing. I have a separate journal for Bible study and Bible writing, but before I did, I would write a Bible verse in my journal along with everything else I was writing for the morning. Choose just one or two verses, and reflect on them while you write the words in your own handwriting. The Bible study I wrote called A Grateful Heart has a daily scripture writing component, so you could use that or you could choose a verse from 50 Bible verses every Christian should know printable.
- Things I want to remember. I actually do this in a running log in my bullet journal, not in my morning pages book, but either one is good as long as you record them somewhere. As I read books, listen to podcasts, and do school with my kids, little nuggets strike me. They might be quotes, Bible verses, salient points from a lesson, or anything really. I don't want to lose those lightbulb moments, so I write them down. As you are writing in the morning, you may not be able to think of anything for this one, so just move on if you can't. But if you can, all the better.
- Prayer. I think journaling your prayers helps you to be thankful because it allows you to go back and look and see what you prayed for and when and how God answered. Your prayers can be very short or very long, but what matters is that you're using that time to share your heart with God. In your journal is a great place to record those conversations.
- My focus for the day. Here's where you pause to think about the day ahead of you. What needs your attention? What should you focus on? Are there certain things from your to do list that you absolutely must take care of today? What are your big rocks? I try to get to this every morning, thinking ahead about what I need to accomplish in order to make my day a success. Don't be afraid to separate this into different sections. I think about work, blog, grad school, and homeschool when I'm thinking about my day ahead.
- My top 3. If you can only achieve 3 things today, what should they be? What will make you feel good when you go to bed tonight? Maybe you'll choose one item for each of your areas above, but maybe you won't. Maybe they will all be concentrated in one area. Think about what you need and want to do, and come up with a top 3. (Also, make sure it doesn't become a top 4 or top 5. Limit yourself to 3.) When you're ready to put your journal away, transfer these top 3 to your planner so that you can check them off when they get done.