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How to Start a Meaningful Journaling Practice + 12 Simple Daily Journal Prompts

How to Start a Meaningful Journaling Practice + 12 Simple Daily Journal Prompts

If you’ve ever wondered how to start journaling, today’s post is just what you need!

In my last post, I shared some of the benefits of journaling. Along with how journaling can be another tool to help you simplify your life.

In today’s post, I’m sharing how you can start journaling in a way that feels meaningful, enjoyable and right for you. Along with 12 of my favourite simple daily journal prompts to help get you started. Especially if you’ve ever found yourself stuck about how to start journaling or what to write!

Sign up at the bottom of this post or click here to get a free printable copy of the daily journal prompts to keep with your journal so you’re never stuck on what to write!

*This post contains affiliate links. Click here for the full disclosure policy.*

What your journaling practice doesn’t have to be

When you’re starting journaling, it’s important to remember to make your practice your own and make it work for you.

Let go of any expectations you have for your journal to look a certain way or follow a certain format. And remind yourself of what you don’t need to include in your journaling practice.

Your journal and journaling practice don’t have to look a certain way. It doesn’t have to be pretty or full of deep and insightful musings. You don’t need to worry about how neat your writing is, or how many spelling or grammar errors are on your page. You don’t even need to write in complete sentences or paragraphs.

Don’t worry about needing the “right” journaling supplies either. You don’t need a fancy journal, pens or other supplies to have a meaningful journaling practice.

You might decide to write in a simple coil notebook or even on scrap paper. Or you might find your journaling practice feels more special and meaningful to you when you have a pretty journal to write in.

Do whatever feels and works best for you. It doesn’t have to look a certain way!

How to Start a Meaningful Journaling Practice + 12 Simple Daily Journal Prompts
Photo by pure julia on Unsplash

The goal of journaling

The key is developing a journaling practice that feels natural and good to you. Your journal is your own private space and you never have to worry about what it looks like or sounds like to other people.

The goal is simply getting what’s going on in your mind out of your mind and down onto the page.

Not only giving you the chance to think and work through what’s going on in your mind. But also giving you the chance to clear some mental space in your mind. Giving those thoughts, feelings and ideas to your journal to hold so you don’t have to keep carrying them around with you!

“Our brains are for having ideas, not holding them.”

~ David Allen

How to write in your journal

There are so many ways to write in your journal. Don’t limit yourself to only writing sentences and paragraphs.

Your journal entries might include brain dumps, lists of things to do, a list of bullet points, drawings and sketches, diary-style entries, bullet journal trackers and lists, free-flow writing, guided journaling questions and prompts, collages, etc. You can use a guided journal, pen and blank paper, a computer or an app as your journal.

Don’t be afraid to play around with different formats and styles of journaling to find what feels best for you.

Let go of expectations

It can be really helpful to approach your journaling practice without expectations or a specific plan of what you want to write about and how you want it to look. Instead, lean into whatever feels right to you each time you sit down. Writing whatever comes up in whatever format feels best.

If this sounds hard, remember that the more you practice and pay attention to what feels right for you, the easier it becomes. And the better you’ll become at listening to yourself.

For me, I like to start journaling with some simple prompts (keep reading for some of my favourite daily journal prompts). Then once I get started with those prompts, l see where my mind and my pen take me and allow myself to write however and about whatever feels right.

The biggest thing to remember is that there is no “right” way to journal. You can’t do it wrong or mess it up. Your journaling practice is just for you anyway!

Don’t worry about how it looks. Instead, focus more on how it feels and make it feel good to you.

How to start journaling & create a journaling habit

Next, I’ll share some tips you can use to develop a strong journaling habit. And develop a journaling practice that feels nourishing, meaningful and enjoyable.

Take what works for you, leave what doesn’t. But try to keep an open mind so you are able to experiment with and explore different types and aspects of journaling to make it work for you.

1. Consistency is important

When you’re figuring out how to start journaling and building a journaling habit, consistency and frequency are key.

The more often and regularly you journal, the better you’ll be able to figure out what works and doesn’t work for you. As you refine what works and doesn’t work for you, journaling will feel easier and more enjoyable.

The more often you journal, you might even start craving journaling time as you experience more and more of the benefits of a journaling practice.

Try to write in your journal on a fairly regular basis. Daily journaling is a great goal to set. But if that doesn’t work for you, aim to sit down and write in your journal at least a few times a week.

You don’t have to write pages and pages each time you journal. Even writing a quick gratitude list or quickly checking in with how you feel in your body or mind is great.

2. When to journal

You can also experiment with when you prefer writing in your journal. You can write in the mornings, in the evenings, throughout the day or some combination of all of these!

When you’re starting a journaling practice, it might be helpful to try writing at the same time of day to build a consistent habit. But be open to experimenting with different times of day to discover what feels best to you.

Setting out your journaling supplies or keeping them somewhere easily accessible can be a great way to make it easy to jump in and write for a few minutes when you can.

I love getting up early on Saturday mornings to have more time for journaling. Then having quicker week-day sessions in between.

3. Have the tools you need

Remember you don’t need anything special to develop a meaningful journaling practice. You simply need something to write with and something to write on. (Whether that’s a pen and paper, your laptop, an app, etc.)

However, having tools you like using can be helpful.

For example, having a pen you enjoy writing with and is comfortable to use can help make your journaling time more enjoyable.

Here are some of my favourite pens if you’re looking for a place to start:

While you can use any kind of paper, notebook or journal to write on, I find having a nice journal can make journaling feel a little more special and even sacred. Having a pretty journal can also help you feel more excited to write in it more often.

I love picking up unique or handmade journals when I come across them. And here are some of my other favourite journals to give you a few ideas:

Adding creative elements

While it might not be for everyone, I really enjoy decorating my journal with washi tape, pretty scraps of paper, stickers and other decorative elements.

Adding decorations to my journals adds a creative element and outlet for me that I really enjoy. This is completely extra and unnecessary, but if you’re a creative person, it can be a lot of fun!

I often gather decorative materials over time, from various places. I’ve used magazine clippings, pretty product tags, scraps of pretty cards or papers, etc. But here are some products I also enjoy using to decorate my journals:

4. Write for you

Remember your journal is just for you. You never have to share it with anyone. And you don’t even have to read what you write again if you don’t want to.

Don’t be afraid to write honestly, opening and even vulnerably in your journal.

Don’t worry about what it looks like or what others would think of what you’re writing. It’s a private space just for you.

Your journal is also the perfect place to work through and spend time with the thoughts, feelings and ideas you might not feel comfortable sharing anywhere else.

5. Make it feel special and enjoyable

Try to make your journaling time feel special, enjoyable and something you look forward to.

It’s not a chore or something you have to do. Instead, it’s a special time you’re dedicating to yourself and to your relationship with yourself.

That could mean using a special journal and pen you love. It could be lighting a candle beside you while you journal. Enjoying your favourite cozy drink while you write. Or even making a special journaling playlist to listen to while you journal to make your journaling time feel more special.

6. Use prompts to avoid writer’s block

One of the most common roadblocks I hear about journaling is not knowing what to write about. If this is holding you back from journaling, know you’re not alone!

The best way to avoid writer’s block when you’re journaling is to have some prompts you can use to get you started.

Journal prompts not only get you started writing. They also “break the ice” and can help you avoid staring at a blank page and not knowing how to start writing.

Sometimes simply writing the date at the top of the page is enough to break the ice and help you start writing.

But if you need a little more to get you going, keep reading for my favourite daily journal prompts that I use in my own journaling practice. They never fail to help me get started and avoid feeling like I don’t know what to write about!

Once you start with a prompt or two, lean into whatever feels right from there.

Maybe writing with a prompt or two feels like enough for today. Maybe you want to continue answering more journaling prompts. Or maybe after a prompt or two, you feel like you want to start freewriting about whatever comes up, like stream of consciousness writing.

Listen to yourself and trust yourself to know what feels right to you today.

How to start journaling: simple daily journal prompts to get your started

As I said, these are my favourite daily journal prompts I use in my own journaling practice. I hope they help you get started journaling too.

Sign up using the form below to get a free printable with these daily journal prompts. It can be handy to tuck this list of prompts inside your journal, so you always have a prompt to kick start your writing whenever you need it!

Gratitude lists

1. Write a gratitude list of 3, 5, 10 things (or however many things feel right to you) that you feel grateful for right now.

2. Write a list of tiny delights, listing a few things that feel delightful to you right now.

(A list of tiny delights is similar to a gratitude list. But sometimes phrasing it as “tiny delights” helps expand what you’re appreciative of to include things that may seem small or insignificant, but add joy or delight to your day!)

Check in with yourself

3. How are you feeling right now in your body? In your mind? In your heart?

4. What is your mood like today?

5. What are your thoughts like today?

6. How do you want to feel today?

7. What can you do to help you move in the direction of feeling that way?

Open to possibility

8. What do you hope for today?

9. What can you let go of today?

10. What can you celebrate today?

11. What feels exciting today?

Ground yourself

12. Journal through the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. Listing:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

How to start a personal, meaningful journaling practice

I hope this post helps inspire and encourage you to create a personal and meaningful journaling practice. And I hope these prompts will help get you started and get you past the block of not knowing what to write in your journal.

Don’t forget to sign up above (or click here) for a printable list of these journaling prompts!

And check out the other posts in my new journaling series here:

The Benefits of Journaling & How it Can Help You Simplify Your Life

I’d love to know, do you enjoy journaling? Is it something you do regularly already? Or are you looking to start a more consistent journaling practice? Do you use any favourite prompts to get you started? Which of the prompts I shared resonate most with you? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Arlene Dunford

Thursday 24th of February 2022

I believe journaling can be very powerful, however, I never thought it would be helpful to declutter so I do feel motivated to try it again.

Simple Lionheart Life

Friday 25th of February 2022

Yes! It's been so helpful for me to create a clear vision as I declutter, set decluttering goals and work through some of the roadblocks making it feel hard to let go of clutter. I'm excited you're going to give it a try! Thanks for reading :)

Suzanne M Perreault

Sunday 13th of February 2022

I continue to enjoy your posts. I have been journaling for a while and have attended a couple of workshops on journaling. One question that keeps popping up, and no answer yet - what do you do with your old journals given that they are your thoughts and not necessarily for anyone else’s eyes? As a minimalist, I would love to hear your suggestions. Thank you.

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 14th of February 2022

Thank you, Suzanne. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed the post. This is a tricky question and I know a lot of people struggle with it (myself included!). I wish I had an easy answer, but unfortunately, I don't. When I finish a journal, I usually read back through it and then either decide to shred it or keep it based on how it felt re-reading it. If you're concerned about others reading your journals, it might feel better for you to let them go once you're done. My best advice would be to read through your old journals and give yourself some time and space to decide what feels right to you, to keep them or get rid of them. I think there can be value in keeping them if you like reading through them again. And I also think there can be value in letting them go and focusing on your life in the present moment instead. I don't know if that really helps or not! Thank you for reading and I'd love to hear what you decide to do!

Kathleen M

Sunday 13th of February 2022

I love your journaling ideas! I've journaled for years, and am always looking for new ideas. I also read a lot, and will write down inspirational quotes, ideas or poems in the front or back of my journal. It helps me to open up my journal, read something inspiring or positive to help me begin!

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 14th of February 2022

Thanks, Kathleen! I love that you add special pieces of inspiration to your journal. What a great idea! Thanks for reading and for sharing :)

Jessalynn Jones

Sunday 13th of February 2022

I really enjoyed this post Melissa. I have always thought I wanted to journal but then when I sit down I go blank which is ironic because I write a blog. I guess when I think about myself I must put up a wall or something. I have enjoyed my 300 writing prompts journal which helps me write creatively but I think I will have to try the writing prompts you suggested to work thru my feelings more. Thanks!

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 14th of February 2022

I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Jessalynn! I think your mind going blank when you sit down to write is such a common struggle (I can relate too!). The prompts I use are so helpful to get me writing without stressing about what to write! Thanks for reading :)

NATALIE K

Sunday 13th of February 2022

I am so very touched by your writing prompts on journaling. The idea of recording my 'tiny delights' brings me joy just thinking of them this morning. One 'tiny delights' is that I'm drinking hot chocolate as I read your articles!! I haven't journaled in many years because I'm afraid of dying and leaving them. I'm 55, disabled, living in a great deal of pain, and quit ill. I thought if I always had to watch what I say when journaling it would no longer be good for me. I've changed my mind!! Thank you for being such a blessing to me!! I'm unable to declutter by myself any longer but my best friend is helping me. Praise the Lord for good friends!! The only idea we don't agree on is such a small closet of clothing. I was amazed at a picture of your closet!! But, Fashion was my career field!!

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 14th of February 2022

I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed the post, Natalie. Thank you for your kind words! I love the tiny delights too, focusing on tiny delights really does add a lot of joy to my days. I'm sorry to hear about the pain and challenges you live with. I hope journaling will help add a little more joy to your days too. And good luck as you declutter with your friend. I'm so glad you have a friend to support you! Thanks for reading :)

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