How to Write a Journal Entry
A journal can be a chronicle of your daily activities, a summary of your most intimate thoughts, or simply a way to keep yourself on track while you complete an assignment. To write a journal entry for yourself, consider writing about the events of your day, secrets you need to get off your chest, or random trains of thought. To write a journal entry for school, read the assignment carefully, reflect on what you've learned, and write your analysis of the information being reviewed. The exact rules of why, when, where and how you write are probably yours to determine in either case, but these points are usually good places to start.
Journaling for Yourself
Find something that can become your journal.You can use a notebook, legal pad, blank book, word processor, journaling application like Red Notebook, or you can also buy journals with locks at Staples or whatever you like for your journal. Just make sure that it contains blank pages you can write on, and that the pages are bound up so they won't scatter and get lost.
Find a writing tool.If you chose to use a word processor in Step 1, you can skip this step. If you're using an actual book, locate a pen you like. (You can use pencil to write in your journal, but it will fade dramatically over time.) Some journal-keepers have a particular brand of pens that they prefer, or they favor a certain style (such as gel pen over ballpoint). Either way, your writing implement should feel comfortable in your hand and help you write at a pace you enjoy.
Set up a routine.You might want to bring your journal with you wherever you go, so that you can write down your thoughts as they strike you. You could choose a particular time each day to sit down and clear your head. Whatever you decide, make it a habit. Journaling as part of a routine will make you more likely to stick with it.
Choose a setting that's conducive to writing.Place yourself in an environment that makes you feel calm and want to write , whether it's the privacy of your own room or a busy coffee shop. If you're not sure where you like to write, try out a few different locations at different times during the day.
Date your entry.This may seem a real drag, but this is the only real rule when it comes to keeping a journal. You’ll be amazed just how useful having each entry dated can be.
Start writing.As you begin your journal entry, write down your thoughts as they occur to you. If you're stumped, start out by discussing what you did during the day, or any major epiphanies you've had lately. These topics might lead you to other interesting topics about with you can write.
- Try to see your journal as "thinking on paper." Your thoughts don't need to be perfectly constructed or written with the right grammar and punctuation. Instead, try to think of your journal as a space where you can write out and organize your thoughts and feelings.
- Don't feel self-conscious. Unless you're planning on showing your journal to someone else, remember that it's just for your eyes and don't worry about what other people think. Feeling free to express yourself is a vital part of keeping a meaningful journal.
Be creative.Try incorporating different styles of writing into your journal, such as lists, poems, screenplays or stream-of-consciousness writing. You could also include artwork such as sketches, drawings and collages.
Know when to stop.You might stop writing as soon as you feel like you've exhausted your thoughts, or after you've reached a certain page limit. Whatever you choose, stop before you feel completely drained - remember, you want to have enough energy to come back to your journal and write again.
Reread what you’ve written, if you can.Either read it directly after making the entry or set aside a time to read your past entries. You can potentially gain a lot of insight from going over your journal.
Keep writing.The more dedicated you are to your journal, the more valuable it becomes. Find ways to make journalism a habit, and keep doing it.
Method 1 Quiz
How should you view your writing?
Journalism for School
Understand the assignment.Have you been assigned to keep a journal of your personal experiences, or a journal of your thoughts as you read a certain book? Whatever it is, make sure you read and reread the assignment so that you understand it well.
Stick to a schedule.You'll probably need a set number of entries in your journal in order to pass the assignment. Instead of trying to write them all the night before the journal is due, try to keep a schedule. If you forget to write your entries, set an alarm on your phone, or ask someone else to remind you periodically.
Date each entry.Start each journal entry by noting the date. If you want to note what time it is when you start writing, you can do that, too.
Start writing the entry.One or two lines beneath the date, start writing your journal entry. Here are some suggestions to consider if you're writing the journal for a school assignment:
- Reflect on what you've learned. How do you plan to apply it to your own life?
- Quote pieces of the book or assignment that were meaningful to you. After you've included the quote, write why you like it.
- Discuss your thoughts or impressions about the assignment. For instance, if you're supposed to write the journal as you read a book, you could talk about your reaction to a certain character or chapter.
Write in first-person.Because a journal is meant to be a personal narrative, you should probably write it from a first-person perspective. That means using "I", "me", "mine" or "my" in your sentences.
Make sure each entry is long enough.If your assignment specifies how long each entry is supposed to be, stick to that number. If not, shoot for about 200 to 300 words per entry.
Conclude each entry with a closing thought.As you're wrapping up your entry for the day, it might be nice to summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two. For instance, you could start with "What I've really learned today is..." or "I'd like to spend more time thinking about..."
Method 2 Quiz
True or False: You shouldn’t quote others in your journalism.
QuestionCan I write bad stuff about other people?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's your journal, so you can write whatever you like. Spill out those ugly thoughts and get them out of your system! Say whatever you think needs to be said. However, also be prepared to analyze your "bad stuff" because otherwise you learn nothing and simply reinforce that it's okay to feel anger or frustration toward other people all the time, and that can end up being unhealthy. Use the journal to work through such feelings. And don't forget to hide it really well!Thanks!
QuestionHow can I start a journal entry?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStart a journal entry with how your day went. From there, elaborate on what is going through your mind.Thanks!
QuestionWhat's the best time to start writing a journal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can start writing your journal whenever you want, as long as you have all the supplies you need.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I write a journal entry about a book?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerExplain what the book was about, who the characters were and what they were like, and how the book made you feel. You can also say something about the book's themes and/or what you think the author was trying to say.Thanks!
QuestionCan I write a journal on the current issueswikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. You can write a journal about anything you feel is important to you, or that sparks your interest.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I keep my journal private?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionDoes everything have to be secret in your diary or journal?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. You can write a blog or something on your laptop or computer. You can always just explain your feelings to people. You don't have to keep everything a secret.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I keep a journal for my goals?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWrite down your goal in life, and add an entry every time you make progress toward your goal. This will help you focus on one area of your life.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is a good way to end the journal entry?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA good way to end a journal entry is to summarize your entry, or write, "Goodbye for the time being." Treat it as though you were wrapping up a conversation with a person.Thanks!
QuestionIf I don't know what date to put, can the date be random?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. You could also explain in the diary entry what the range of dates is, and from within that range, write down what you believe to be the most likely date or dates.Thanks!
Do I make recommendations as summary of my journal entry?
What is the best type of journal for planning, writing, and drawing?
How can I write a journal related to teaching ?
Where can I find a free journal template for my journal?
If you’re writing a journal entry for yourself, sit down in a quiet place with a pen and a journal or a piece of paper. Think about what is going on in your life, or something that happened to you during that day. Once you start thinking about something, write down your thoughts on paper as they occur to you. Don’t worry about getting the grammar or punctuation right; just let your thoughts flow. Once you’ve finished the thought, close the journal and come back the next day.
- You don't have to begin with the typical "Dear Diary". Address it to anyone, yourself, or nobody. Just start writing.
- Take your time, don't rush and try to get everything down.
- Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with the bad things that happen- and that's usually what we write down. Instead, try to remember the beautiful things in life too. You want to smile/laugh when you go back and read it- so think happy!
- If it's been a while since you last wrote, don't try to catch up on all the interesting past events - that kills a journal faster than anything. Just start from where you are right now, and if something significant happened recently, it will still be on your mind and you can add it in. Think of your journal as "snapshots" of moments rather than a complete and comprehensive "video" of your life.
- Writing can consume you once it grabs you. Don't expect to ever be able to give it up!
- If your journal is really good and you become famous later on, you can make it into an autobiography.
- Sometimes having a shower or bath can help you remember and recap your day.
- List all your best friend's addresses/phone numbers/emails to look back on in the future.
- Write out some timelines of events! Show your school day, for example; "1st period is from X:XXam to X:XXam, 2nd..." so on.
- Make the journal work for you. If writing about your feelings drags you into negative space, write about what you accomplished each date. Think Captain's Log rather than pre-teen Dear Diary.
- If your journal contains extremely private thoughts, take care to keep it accessible only to yourself.
- Take your journal everywhere you go because you never know when you could get an interesting idea that needs to be written down!
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Video: How to Write a Journal Entry in 5 Steps
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