Introduction to Journaling-Who, What, How and Why


Writing in a journal – where to start? How do I start? Why should I journal?

“Isn’t it mysterious to begin a new journal…I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.”  ~~ Maud Hart Lovelace

We want to guide you on your new writing journey, and have designed a four week course to get you in the habit of writing every day.  

Beginning December 6th, follow the link posted in Artful Journeys to the Artful Musings page link that will appear across the top of the Artful Chicks blog for all your weekly prompts and lessons.  This is the Introduction to this course and hopefully will answer some of your questions.

My name is Betty Richardson, and I am the owner of Artful Journeys, Artful Mail Groupies and Artful Excess.  Writing is one of my passions and was one of my very first creative outlets.  Writing is something I MUST do. I am compelled to do it.  I wasn't always in the habit of doing it, but I learned over the years that writing soothes my soul, it allows me to think, plan, dig deep into my personal psyche, understand situations which previously had been all muddied up by burying them deep.  Some things I didn't want to uncover, but I did. And for that I am glad. I learned a lot about myself by doing so.  Nothing is sacred in my journal, and I can talk to myself like a "dutch uncle" when needed or just have happy, random writing to reinforce the blessings in my life.  I will be here for you on your journey, to answer questions, provide moral support and guide you to a path toward a renewed spirit.  Don't hesitate to call on me whenever you need to do so.

Writing in a journal is, can, and should be a very personal journey.  You are talking to your very best friend – YOU!  You never have to share your musings with anyone, unless of course you want to.  Your writing journal is your special place, where you can let your hair down, be REAL with yourself about every emotion and activity under the sun.  Your journal is a place for exploration, curiosities, insight, healing and revelation.  It is well documented that writing can be very cathartic (cleansing) and healing for the mind, body and spirit.  And during this 4-week course, we want to get you in the habit of writing and journaling every single day, even if just for a few minutes a day.


Many people journal for many different reasons:  to create a record of their life, to explore their innermost feelings and emotions, record our life’s ambitions and hearts desires, to have a place to jot down ideas and brainstorming activity, to work through joy, pain, success, trauma or deep-rooted issues.  A journal is a place you can do all of that, and more.  A journal is more than a place to record your daily events and life happenings.  A journal is your private place to explore, to unlock a hidden desire, to rebuild your inner spirit so that you can move on through the daily hurdles life continually shoves at each of us.

Perhaps you have a drawer or a bookshelf lined with new, enticing journals.  You expressed your desire in wanting to write just by purchasing these. Is there an inner longing to work out something in your life?  Do you want to write poetry or short stories? Set new goals and aspirations for yourself?  Do you need to interject some positive self-talk into your life?  This is why we journal. We all need most of these things most of the time, so let’s move forward and unlock the potential of your journal, and your life, so you can enjoy some “me” time with a renewed spirit!


Over the course of the next four weeks, we are going to provide you with daily writing prompts. Nothing heavy or serious. We want to get you in the habit of writing.

You will need the following:

       1.  A journal or notebook

       2.  A pen that does not bleed through the page

       3.  An envelope that will fit inside the back cover of your book
       4.  Optional: Colored pencils, pens, markers

       5.  The courage to take on the blank page and get started!

  The Journal or Notebook

Paper and journals is all about personal preference.  I recommend you select one you will be comfortable holding, durable for toting around, and one which you love the feel and thickness or thinness of the paper.  Whether you need lines or not is entirely up to you.  Select a journal or notebook that YOU LOVE.  You will be in love with it 1000% before you fill it up, because it is your world.

My favorite journal to write in is a Moleskin or Piccadilly large, lined journal.  I like the soft covers, primarily because I can art them up, and because of their flexibility. They aren’t heavy in your purse or bag, and pack nicely when traveling. You can normally pick these up in 3-packs at places like Barnes and Noble and other retailers.  I almost always write in my journals with a fountain pen or a dip pen, so the paper is important to me.  If you like writing with a gel pen or a ballpoint, almost any paper will do.

<--- my current writing journal, a Piccadilly, large notebook.  ^^ Contains about 80 pages.  Mostly the cover and the edges of the pages have been tarted up with a few tip in flaps and washi tape. Lots of room to write.

A lot of people like the A5 size for a journal, others a ringed notebook so you can keep adding to it.  There are so many options out there, it is impossible for me to tell you one is better than the other.  You might be happy with a really inexpensive spiral bound journal from the dollar store, and others of you may want a hard bound leather edition. If you think you are going to tote it around with you a lot, try and find one with a sewn-in signature and one that is not glued to the spine. Whatever you decide, select one you like … no, love, and get it! Commit to it and commit to write in it for the next 365 days.  After your 4-week starter course, join us at Artful Journeys for our year-long writing prompts for the next 365 days that will begin on January 1, 2016. 


Your choice of writing instruments has probably already emerged.  Do you prefer to write with a ballpoint? Gel ink? Fluid ink such as a fountain pen?  Use what you LOVE and what fits your hand comfortably.  If you like them all (and there are bazillions of choices), use them all according to the mood of the day.  It’s your journal. Use what makes you happy and eager to record your day!


This is the most difficult part for some people.  We all have busy lives with children, pets, jobs, errands and life-interruptus.  When do you get a few minutes to yourself?  First thing in the morning? Last thing in the evening after the kids are in bed?  Set aside at least THIRTY MINUTES a day to journal. Time when you have time to think. When you have time to take a deep breath. Commit to it every single day.  This isn’t exercise that is going to make you more tired or make you sweat. You don’t have to get out in the weather.  It’s just you and your new best friend … YOU.  I didn’t say it would be easy. Some days it will be quite difficult.  You will be “too tired” or “not in the mood” but you need this.  You need it for yourself.  You will develop moments of great clarity, acceptance, direction and purpose.  You will ultimately find shining orbs of light in your life you thought were dead and buried, by digging deep some days and clearing away the clutter of your day and putting it all down on paper.  This is the primary reason you should make time. For you. For your sanity. For your inner peace and well being. You are about to embark on a road of discovery, clarity and personal acceptance.  MAKE THE TIME.

Most of my personal journaling happens at night, before retiring for the evening.  I can think about my day, plan for tomorrow in the peace and quiet, and without interruption.  Sometimes, but not often, I journal when I get up.  I tend to ruminate at night when I cannot sleep and think of things I need to jot down or actually write about.  My best time is late at night, but yours might be first thing in the morning. 

It might also be good for new journalers to keep your journal at your bedside for a couple of weeks. Perhaps something is troubling you and you think of something and wake up during the night. Jot it down in your journal and release it. Better this way than to toss and turn about something all night long. You put the issue to bed when you jotted it down.  When the sun comes up, you can address it then, but you’ve released it, and it’s still there, waiting on some more thought processes.


Sometimes, staring at that beautiful, blank, first page of a spanking new journal is scary.  Daunting.  You are afraid you are going to “ruin” it.   Start your journal by turning that pristine FIRST PAGE, and writing on the back side of the  page:  A DONE SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN A PERFECT NOTHING.  (credit to: 365 Journal Writing Ideas)  I tarted mine up in my planner, with some colored pencil, but you get the idea. Just write it.  This is going to be your mantra!  This is a great place to start.  Something is on the page. It is virgin no more.   This is the power of positive thinking at its finest.  And during the course of the next year, when you get stuck, have no motivation, write it again. Write it as many times as you need.  You are moving forward.  A journal was not meant to be empty and lifeless. It isn’t a rare or precious thing. It was meant to be written in, and when you fill it up, get another.  Don’t worry about that big, blank, pristine, white first page. We will do something with it later.


Write in your journal like you are talking to a friend.  Name your journal if you want and if it makes it easier for you.  By doing this, you turn your journal into a conversation with your best friend … yourself.  During the course of your writing in this course, we will propound questions to you that ask you to think and respond. Talk to your best friend.  

With each prompt, to ensure that you are forming the habit of writing, thinking and transposing those thought processes to paper, make an effort to fill at least an entire page in your journal per prompt. By doing so, this will keep you from just writing a short yes or no or abbreviated answers and increase the likelihood of the prompt sparking an idea or a specific memory.  By being thoughtful with your responses to the prompts, you are creating memories and creating something you will want to keep. You will be able to see your journey after a while and personal epiphanies or revelations will emerge.


At the beginning of each new day’s entry, inscribe the day, date and prompt question.  At the end of each day, you may want to tag by subject matter with a hashtag for later reference.  For instance, if you were talking about your sister, a tag like #sister might be in order.

Once you fill up your journal, (such a rewarding feeling) you will want to record the beginning and ending date of the journaling in this particular book. I often record these dates just inside the front cover, since I do not write in journals with alterable spines.


Spelling, grammar, sentence construction and punctuation really don’t matter and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect. Nobody is going to be peeking into your journal but you. You know what it says. There will be days when your writing just flows out the end of your pen almost faster than you can think. That is free writing, and one of the most creative and expressive ways to write. When that happens, just go with the flow.  Amazing things will happen when you free write.


Undoubtedly, you will eventually be writing very personal things that you may not want others to see…ever.  Remember that envelope up there in the list we talked about needing?  You are going to glue that envelope to the inside back cover, and inside there you will have placed pictures and images cut to the size of your journal that you can use to cover those very private thoughts.  You know, those days you are ranting about this thing or that, or talking bad about your neighbor or your spouse, or reliving an experience best kept for your eyes only.  Just scribble over those days, affix an image or images that please you or perhaps reminds you about that day, and glue it in! You will always know what is under there, and nobody else needs to know.  Maybe let your hashtag peek out as a little reminder!

Another trick, if writing in an area where someone might be snooping over your shoulder is to write without spaces and punctuation, like this:      nobodyeverneedstoseeorknowwhatyouarewritingandbyleavi ngoutthespacesandpunctuationtheywontbeabletotellwhatintheheckyouaredoing!


If you plan to journal outside your home and tote your journal with you, use a small coin envelope and put a $10.00 bill inside and seal it, and affix it to the inside of your journal.  On the outside of that coin envelope write …


This may seem silly at the beginning of your writing journey, but once you have filled it with memories, ideas and dreams the $10 will seem a paltry sum when  that priceless bit of you is returned by a kind stranger.


For our purposes, and for the most part, you are only going to be writing in your new journal. During the course of the next 12 months as you continue with us at Artful Journeys after this introduction, every week we are going to ask you to reflect on your journaling for the week and depict those writings creatively in your visual art journal, separate and apart from your writing.  Don't get scared off. You don't have to do it. It is an optional exercise to help you expand your visual art journal into something more meaningful than just pretty art pages!

As you grow more comfortable with your daily musings, you may want to add some color, images or little bits and bobs to your writing journal, just to spice it up a bit.  I rarely tart up my writing journal, but every once in a while, I might add some washi tape to the edges of a new journal or even a small image or clipping if it is pertinent to my day.  Other than that, I write in my writing journal, and I art in my art journals.

So ramp up, gather together your pen(s), your journal and prepare to discover a whole new you, with a renewed spirit, a determined outlook and a commitment to writing every day for the next 4 weeks, if not the next 365 days.
The writing workshop will begin on Saturday, December 5th, with links to the prompts posted in ARTFUL WRITING and ARTFUL JOURNEYS.  Happy writing!

Be sure and join our new Facebook group ARTFUL WRITING which will begin the new year with 365 days of thought-provoking, interesting prompts, writing hints, tips & tricks, all to keep you in the writing habit throughout the year.  Check it out HERE

As always, stay artful and let's get ready to awaken the Muse!

~Betty Richardson


  1. Replies
    1. Awesome Miss V. I hope you find the experience rewarding!

  2. love this idea! I've passed along to a few friends too :)

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa. There are lots of "art journaling" tutorials and classes out there, but not much to teach people to write and how to write in a journal. I am so hopeful that this is well received and rewarding for everyone who commits!

  3. This sounds fantastic!

    1. You will find writing and having a nice long chat with yourself can be very rewarding!

  4. Replies
    1. Hooray! Great news, and you will do awesome!

  5. I'm scared...but I'm in!

    1. Nothing to fear but fear itself, Miss Kathy. You're just going to have a friendly chat with yourself, and perhaps discover many things about yourself you never accepted or realized. You'll love it!

  6. woot! woot! Another avenue to self-discovery and a healed spirit. I look forward to going down this road with you my friend.

  7. What do I need to do to join up on this adventure? Do I need to join the group?

    1. Link to the Beginning 4-week journaling course will be published tomorrow evening, Sat., Dec 5th. Please return to this blog and look for the page heading on the left side of the blog entitled "LEARN TO JOURNAL IN 4 WEEKS".

      We have a new group dedicated to writing and journaling that will have its first official prompt on 12/31 to kick off the new year, followed by 364 more days of writing prompts, hints, tips and ideas. Group is just forming, but you may follow this link to know where to go


  8. I would like to play along. Do I need to join a group? Not sure how this happens.

  9. Link to the Beginning 4-week journaling course will be published tomorrow evening, Sat., Dec 5th. Please return to this blog and look for the page heading on the left side of the blog entitled "LEARN TO JOURNAL IN 4 WEEKS".

    We have a new group dedicated to writing and journaling that will have its first official prompt on 12/31 to kick off the new year, followed by 364 more days of writing prompts, hints, tips and ideas. Group is just forming, but you may follow this link to know where to go


  10. Very excited. Thank you for putting this together!

  11. I'm scared , I'm late (as usual) but I need this... I KNOW I NEED THIS!!!


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