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How to start a journal

Journaling 101

Linen Blue Lagoon Notebook
Linen Memory Notebook
Leather Cook Book

Things to consider in preparing your new journal

  • What are you going to do with your journal?
  • How to choose your notebook.
  • Decorating your notebook.
  • Keeping your journal.
  • Ongoing motivation.

What are you going to do with your journal?

The very first thing to consider is the focus of your journal. What do you want to achieve with your notebook? Do you want to organise your day or week, be more mindful or creative, document a journey whether physical or emotional? A written document can provide a joyful and logical path for you, whether to not you want to share it with anyone else.

Journal suggestions

  • Write morning pages or lists.
  • Record a 5-minute daily diary.
  • Respond to wellness prompts.
  • Practice collage or bullet journaling.
  • Create a daily drawing.
  • Correspond with someone you miss.
  • Create story starters to encourage writing.
  • Create a travelogue.
  • Try out calligraphy styles.

Choosing your journal

So you’ve decided what you want from your notebook, so now you need to choose the right tools. Paper should firstly always be sourced from FSC®-certified forests, so that the sourced paper meets internationally and nationally agreed standards of responsible forest management. The next consideration is the paper quality, the thickness of paper is specified by its weight in grams per square metre (GSM). Below there is a general guide to the uses of paper in specific weights.

Paper weights in journals

70 gsm Classic notebook paper, suitable for dry media, pencils, ballpoint pens.
100 gsm A denser version of notebook paper. Good for fountain pens and dry media, pencils, charcoal, pastels, light watercolour wash.
120 gsm Thicker smooth paper. Ideal for sketching and drawing with pencils, charcoal, fountain pens, markers and watercolour.

Don’t forget if you are going to write daily entries in your journal you will need to be sure there are enough pages to do so. Finally are you mainly writing or going freeform? Ruled pages can be 5mm or 7mm wide, take this into account with your own handwriting. If your journal is going to be more freeform with drawings and notes then a 5mm dot-grid can provide a guide without the distraction of full width lines.

The notebook cover should reflect your personality in colour and style but a sturdy wipeable leather cover can be most practical when carrying your notebook around in pockets and bags.

Decorating your notebook

Make your journal your own by giving it your own style. Personalise the covers with words, art, stickers, and colours. Take clippings from your favourite magazines, and post them on the inside or outside of the journal. Take inspiration by following a hashtag such as #journaling on Instagram. If fuss isn’t your thing, then feel free to leave your journal clean.

There are systems such as #bulletjournal that assist in setting up pages ready for content and time management. These generally guide users through specific page set ups and can help the new journal user but maybe daunting at first. Alternatively just adding an index and numbering pages can be a great way to keep track of what you write.

Decoration ideas

  • Create a unique grid for each day to fill in.
  • Create different shapes.
  • Add stickers or letters.
  • Use fabric.
  • Style with ribbons.
  • Try Washi Tape.
  • Experiment with colour.

Keeping your journal

The most important step of starting a journal is setting down the first entry. The choice of notebook, the decoration, are just ways of making the journal feel like yours and preparing to create content. Think about the sort of journal that you keep and write what’s on your mind.

  • Daily musings. Include where you went, what you did, and who you spoke to.
  • How do you feel? Pour your joys, your frustrations, and your goals into the journal.
  • Keep a learning log. Write about what you learned today.
  • Be creative. Use your journal to write stories or poetry, to make sketches, and to plan out projects.
  • Mix creative aspects with daily notes and thoughts.

Ongoing motivation

It can be hard to get into the rhythm of daily or weekly writing or drawing but practice make perfect. Below are some tips on keeping the flow.

How to keep your journal going

  • Time yourself, start with 10 minutes.
  • Create a natural break in your day to create content.
  • Take your journal with you wherever you go.
  • Pick up where you left off, even if that was a month ago.
  • Think before you write, give yourself space.
  • Don’t force yourself to journal.
  • If your journal doesn’t inspire you try another subject or reason to journal.

Feel inspired and ready for a new notebook?