How to Start a Journal – Follow this Easy Guide

How to Start a Journal for the New Year

Most of us set goals in the New Year. Keeping a planner or journal helps me track and keep up with my resolutions. Or perhaps, keeping a journal to begin with IS the goal! Here are a few tips for how to start journaling in the New Year.

Journaling supplies - OOLY gel pens, pouches and erasers on a desk

First, gather your journaling supplies

  • Journal or Planner-select a size that works for you
  • colored pens (Gel, ballpoint, glitter, scented, unscented-you choose!)
  • sticky tabs
  • deco or washi tape
  • highlighters or markers
  • ink pen or fountain pen
  • stickers (optional)
  • pouch or bag for journal & supplies

Start with a fresh journal for motivation

There is beauty in cracking open a journal to that creamy white first page! I love OOLY’s Flipside Double Sided notebooks, because it’s like having two journals at once! One side has lined pages for writing and the other has blank pages for doodles and creating your own charts and planners. It’s the perfect journal for people who want to do a little of everything. The quality paper is thick and smooth which always makes for a pleasant journaling experience.

Choosing a journal size  for your needs

A smaller pocket journal like the Glamtastic Glitter Notebooks are a good option for simple lists or daily logs. Sometimes I use smaller journals for different topics, like menu planning, writing ideas, etc. This smaller size would fit easily into a purse, backpack or briefcase. Consider your purpose for journaling and pick the notebook size and style that fits.

Desk with OOLY writing supplies with notebooks, highlighters and stickers

Next, set up your journal for success

Start by creating an index. Using the first page or two, make a simple chart to record your entries. The index will be mostly blank to start. Whenever you create a new journal entry, add it to the index with a title and page number. Whether you’re tracking travels, books read, or brainstorming menus, record that page into the index.

Why I  use an Index

I find an index freeing because I don’t have to section off large chunks of my journal in advance. Pre-made sections often end up being too small or too large for the job. So, I just write straight through the journal and record new entry pages into my index as I write. When I’m looking for something, I refer to the index for quick direction. The indexing method frees up space in your journal.

Journal index with colored pens with OOLY supplies

Another great way to divide sections is by using Note Pals Sticky Tabs to mark your spot.  They are little sticky tabs with enough room to write a title, a little message or reminder or use as a bookmark. Adorable sushi rolls, arctic animals, or other motifs add a whimsical flair to your journaling, and they’re so practical!

Now for the fun part: creating journal pages!

I like to give each page a header or title. Use a chunky highlighter, or doodle with sparkly pens. Or, grab some washi tape and add page headers. Even as a grown-up, I got a little giddy using the Radiant Writers Glitter Gel pens. There’s something about sparkly text in a journal! It’s like happiness in a pen! The glitter livens up the pages, and the colors help create divisions between entries. Here I’ve detailed our field trips for the year, using a new color for each trip.

Notebook with colorful journal entries made with OOLY gel pens

List of books read in a colorful journal with gel pens

Reading logs are popular journal entries. Make a Read or To-Read list, or record detailed reactions for each book. The Notes On A Roll (Trendy Trio) note set works like a sticky note on a tape dispenser; you can tear or cut off to customized lengths. The wider tape is good for notes, while the smaller ribbon tape is easy to use as decor or like I used them to create mini-sidebars on my Book Reactions page to record a summary, quote, and additional details from each book.

OOLY sticky notes and sticky tabs placed in a notebook for journal orgamization

For doodlers, a set of colorful fountain pens are the best journaling friend!  Artists and writers alike will enjoy the fine lines these pens draw, perfect for text, lines, or drawings.

Desktop with OOLY pens, sticky notes, sticky tabs and notebook

Use Google to get inspiration for doodle entries: movie titles inside popcorn, book titles inside books, menu ideas inside a frying pan, etc. Don’t be afraid to borrow from the inspiration of others for your personal journal!

Popcorn drawings in a DIY journal made with OOLY colored pens

Finally, keep journaling supplies organized and handy to make creating daily entries easy. An organizer like this three-pocket pouch is perfect for the job! Larger journals like the Flip Side Notebook (8.25 inches by 5.5) fit in one section, pens and markers in another, and small items like stickers and tapes in the middle. Have journal, will travel!

OOLY journaling supplies with a blue notebook, pens, sticky notes and more desk supplies

Now, with journal and supplies in hand, index for recording, and pages set up, you’re ready to begin a delightful and creative journey of daily journaling.

Julie Kieras is a mom, writer, and educator who loves to get crafty. She homeschools her two boys and aims to bring art and creativity to their daily lessons. For more arts and crafts fun, follow her blog at Happy Strong Home and her social media @juliekieras (Instgram/Pinterest) or @happystronghome (Facebook/Twitter).