journal entry essay

How to Create a Good Journal Entry


Introduction: How to Create a Good Journal Entry

How to Create a Good Journal Entry

What can be called a journal? It's a kind of chronicle you write to express your thoughts, to make a summary of your activities, to compose a plan or important steps to remember and follow when it comes to different writing assignments, etc. It does not matter what you are going to chronicle, but when you write a journal you'd better know the following guidelines to start and make your journal look and sound good.

Step 1: Find a Thing That Will Become Your Journal

Find a Thing That Will Become Your Journal

Have you decided what tool you will use to write your journal? It can be your laptop, a notebook, some mobile applications created with this goal, a blank book or a collection of some sticky notes. Whatever you choose to create your journal entries, your first step should be finding a tool to use for it.

Step 2: Choose a Writing Tool

Choose a Writing Tool

If your journal lives online you can skip this step: it's obvious you'll use a keyboard to write your journal entries. But if you've decided to have an old-fashioned journal, a paper one, you will need a nice pen! Or maybe even several pens of different style for your writings to look cool.

Step 3: Establish a Writing Habit

Establish a Writing Habit

Do you want to bring your journal with you everywhere? Or do you prefer to set a particular time for writing? Set up your daily routine to make your writing comfortable for you; make this routine a habit, and it will be much easier for you to create journal entries.

Step 4: Set Up a Good Writing Place

Set Up a Good Writing Place

Environment plays a very important role when it comes to creative process, as it can motivate and inspire you to write your entries. Think of the best place to fit your writing mood. Is it your quiet room? Or maybe you will feel yourself better in a cafe? Choose a place that will be conductive to everyday writing : for example, when I write entries for my personal blog, Omnipapers , I lock myself in my room to avoid distractions. Classical music helps and inspires me too.

Step 5: Keep Your Every Entry Dated

Keep Your Every Entry Dated

Putting a date to every entry of your journal might be really helpful. It will be easier to systematize your writings and find them quickly when needed.

Step 6: Write Your Entry

Write Your Entry

Just write your thoughts and ideas down as soon as they occur. If it appears difficult at first, try writing about your day, the things you've done during this day, the feelings you experienced, etc. The point is to start writing: every topic might lead you to interesting thoughts to write down. A few tips to consider:

  • D o not worry about structure. Write as you feel, without thinking of grammar and punctuation rules.
  • Will it be only you who reads your entries? Do not worry about what other people can think of your journal: you write for yourself, and you express yourself with your journal.

Step 7: Be Creative

Be Creative

Do not think of your journal entries as simple text. It's so easy to be creative and make beautiful and diverse writings: try poems, lists, collages, artworks, etc. Make your journal unique and beautiful.

Step 8: Feel the Best Moment to Stop

Feel the Best Moment to Stop

Stop your writing before you feel drained and exhausted completely, and get back to your journal when you have enough ideas, inspiration and energy to write good texts again.

Step 9: Reread Your Journal Entry

Reread Your Journal Entry

You can do it once you've completed your entry or after a while: rereading your journal might help you improve your writing, systematize your thoughts and learn yourself better.

Step 10: Conclusion

As far as you can see, it's not very difficult to create good journal entries: write about what you like, white how you feel and think, make your entries look beautiful and pleasant for your eyes, reread them to understand yourself better. I hope this article will be useful to read for all people interested in writing; if you plan to write journal entries it might help you understand what to start with.

journal entry essay


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Turning a Journal Entry Into a Personal Essay

Turning a Journal Entry Into a Personal Essay

Your journal can be a great resource for personal writing for publication

Although for many people a journal is something that contains thoughts, ideas, and feelings that will never be shared with others, for some people, a journal can serve as a resource for future writing projects. Ralph Waldo Emerson called his journal his “savings bank” — a library he could reference when he needed an idea for a new piece of writing.

For writers who are interested in writing personal essays for publication, a journal is an invaluable resource. Since a journal often contains your contemporaneous thoughts, it can help you navigate the truth in what you were feeling in the moment. Journaling also gets us into the habit of using the written word to express our thoughts, fears, and feelings, which is a necessary skill for personal essay writing.

There can be some traps for personal essay writers when it comes to journals, though. Mainly: you sit down to read through an old journal entry and you think, “Hey, this is pretty good. Maybe I’ll just publish it like this.”

More times than not, publishing a journal entry as-is is not the way to go. Below, you’ll find some tips on what you should consider if you are ready to take something from your journal and turn it into a personal essay, either to publish on your own blog or to submit for publication in a literary journal or magazine.

Think about structure

One of the best things about writing in a journal is that we don’t have to worry about structure. For an essay, though, we do need to think about structure. Although a personal essay is perhaps less structured than an academic one, we still need to draw the reader in, establish what it is we’re going to be exploring, and we should ideally have both a climax and a resolution that sums up what we learned through the experience detailed in the essay.

Sometimes, the structure an essay will require will not mean laying out the events as they happened chronologically in real life. It’s possible your journal might. Creating an outline may help you to extract the details you need from the journal in a way that will best serve the essay.

Borrow phrasing from yourself

When we write in our journals, we’re typically writing in a way that is unfiltered and pure. Some of the best writing lies in phrases that were not prepared for an audience, because when we wrote them, we weren’t worrying about how they would be perceived, but rather how they represented what we were truly experiencing or feeling at the time. Our journals are chock full of these pure phrases. Though it may not make sense to directly transcribe your journal entry into an essay, it definitely makes sense to pay attention to some of the phrasing you created in your private writing, and use it where effective.

Poetic licence

Though the personal essay is a non-fiction form of writing, sometimes we need to condense timelines or reduce minutia when preparing to relay an experience to a wider audience. When we’re using our journals as resources, we will sometimes come across details that had otherwise slipped our minds but, because they’re in the journal, are brought to the forefront of our memories. Just because something was included in your journal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a detail that is required for a reader to understand your story in your essay. Choose your details wisely. Just like how in fiction writing most details should move the story along, in non-fiction writing, most details should have relevance to the ultimate topic we are exploring. This isn’t necessarily true when we’re just writing in our journals. Be choosy about what details you extract.

Be True to Yourself

The number one authority on you is, well, you. When we are writing personal essays from memory, sometimes we mix perspective, grudges, and time into the original ingredients, which in turn creates a retelling of something that is not as accurate as it could be. A journal affords us the opportunity to visit with, in a sense, our former self — the person who was experiencing something in the moment and was reflecting about it right there and then, before time, perspective, and other things had had time to meddle. Though sometimes it can be hard, it is at the very least a good exercise (if not good practice) to use those impressions to describe what you were going through at the time, rather than to let your current perspective color your descriptions. This is where journaling can help the personal essay writer the most.

We hope that as you navigate your journaling practice and your work as an essayist, you’ll find that they will be beneficial to one another. Your journal is, much like Emerson said, a savings bank for your future writerly self — it is chock full of ideas, emotions, and notions. Happy writing!

Diarly is secure, simple & beautiful. Start your digital journal today!

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik is a journalist, essayist, and fiction writer based in Vermont. You can read her writing on her website.

Visit Lauren Harkawik 's website


How to Write a Journal Entry

journal entry essay

Have you always wanted to express yourself but you just would not like to share it with somebody? Then writing journal entries can be of great of help to you especially if you want your thoughts materialized into words. Plus, you do not have to be worried about having another person knowing about it.

  • 19+ Travel Journal Writing Examples
  • 5 Reflective Writing Examples & Samples

how to write a journal

Understanding Journal Entries

Journal entries are pieces of writing, which come individually, that will take and fill up a journal or even an ordinary notebook. It is in a journal entry where you will be able to express yourself, your personal growth, your interests, your opinions, and even the mundane things you have done and encountered in a day.

Journal entries usually come in between 500–1000 words. A journal entry may not be connected or related to a previous or the following entry unless stated. Journal entries are considered as something that is private since it is where you can be able to write with no holds barred.

When it comes to content, a journal can contain anything and everything. You can include a chronicle of what happened in your day, the summary of your deep thoughts, and you could even include your to-do tasks for the next day or tasks that you have already completed within the day.

When you would decide to write journal entries for the first time, you may want to consider starting with writing even the most ordinary events that happened in your day, the secrets you want to spill but could not spill to others, and even your most random train of thoughts.

You could also get assigned to write a journal entry for school, you may have to read the stated instructions properly as it could contain only the necessary items that you have to write for your journal entry assignment and that it could also save you some time from writing irrelevant content.

Starting a Journal

Before you would step into the world of journal writing, you just have to have the will to write in the first place. Without the will and the desire to write a journal entry, you will surely not reach even to the half of your journal. You might get discouraged at first especially if you are not confident with your writing, but do not worry because you do not have to be a renowned author to start a journal.

Keep in mind that when in writing a journal, you just have to be honest with yourself. Once you are assured that you really are willing to start writing a journal, here are the steps that can guide you:

1. Decide a comfortable space to write.

There are two spaces to consider when writing a journal. First, you have to consider where you are going to sit when writing a journal and the second is where you should be writing your journal entries.

For the first space, you have to decide on a place where you are at your most comfortable state that you would not be worrying that someone is standing behind you reading your journal entry. You would not want that, right? Additionally, you might want to remember some things that happened during your day and that you could not do so if there will be background noises and distractions as you write.

For the second space, you have to decide on a writing space where you would be writing your journal entry. Do not write anywhere and choose a kind of writing space, be it a notebook or a journal, where you will be able to write comfortably as well. You could also opt for a digital journal where you can easily add, edit, or delete some parts easily without having to deal with the mess; plus, you could easily add other elements, such as photos, that could make your journal entry more detailed.

2. Reflect on your day and ask yourself questions.

Once you have found a perfect place to write and a perfect writing space to write your journal entry on, you should now have to reflect on what happened during your day and what are the events that are journal-worthy for you. You do not have to write on this step.

If you are a newbie at journal writing, do not be too hard on yourself and just write what you can manage to write since your journal entry can just be about anything you want. If you want to write down the moments in your day that you want to have a keepsake out of, you can totally do it even by just closing your eyes and reflecting on what happened throughout your day, including what you may have felt about it.

If you find it hard to reflect, you can just start on basic questions that could help you generate content for your journal entry.

3. Start writing!

You already have what you need so that only means that the only thing left to do is the actual writing of your journal entry.

Again, if you are a beginner at writing journal entries, you can start with simple sentences that start with  “I feel,” or “I think,” or “I wonder.”  Also, do not be afraid to have a central topic for your journal entry and do not be afraid to exclude some parts of your day that you don’t feel recording, most especially if it is just too mundane and basic, such as taking a bath. Unless something remarkable happened during your bath, then you might find it important to write it down. Make sure that you make your journal a space where you can feel at your most comfortable state.

However, if you are to write a journal for an assignment in one of your classes, be sure that you will be able to follow the instructions given by your teacher or professor.

4. Re-read and add.

When you would get into writing your journal writing, there is a tendency that you might forget some things, this is why it is advised that you should go back and re-read your journal entry right after writing it. It is not really necessary for you to check whether grammar, especially the spelling and syntax, is done right and flawless, but if you see the need to edit it since it can affect the message you want to convey, then, by all means, do so.

However, if it is a journal assignment, make sure that you would also check up on your grammar and syntax since your journal will be graded by your teacher.

Additionally, add and enter any missing details on your journal entry once you notice it during your re-reading period. Write it down immediately for it may be difficult to try and remember about it the next time.

Tips for Writing Journal Entries

If you are just getting started to write your first batch of journal entries, it could get difficult for you at some point. However, once you would finally get the hang of it, your journal entries would just easily flow. Here are some tips you can make use of should you want to get better at this activity:

1. Be creative.

Journal entry writing has no limits. You do not have to stick to words and long paragraphs if that bores you. You can make use of any visual material, such as an artwork or a photograph that would make your journal writing even more memorable.

2. Write a dialogue and a memory

In your day, you might have gotten yourself into a conversation so striking you want to have a record of it and you can freely do so on your journal entry. If there was a significant moment that happened to you on that day, write it as a memory on your journal entry. When you find starting to write an entry journal difficult, you can always go these basic things to write and start from there.

3. Set a schedule.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, setting a schedule is a great first step. Decide how many times you want to write and set a schedule. Whether it be once a day, or once a week, decide on a time you want to write and don’t skip it.

4. Have fun.

Of all the things that have been written above, the only thing that you should always stick in your mind is to have fun while writing your first batch of journal entries. It is in having fun that you would just let go of anything that holds you back from writing what you want to write and just let your pen, your hand, and your thoughts do all the action.

Journal entry writing is not a chore or a requirement (unless it’s a given assignment) that you should feel so much pressure from. Free yourself from doubts and just write.


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  • Journal Entries

Home › Accounting › Accounting Cycle › Journal Entries

  • What is a Journal Entry?

1. Identify Transactions

2. analyze transactions, 3. journalizing transactions, common journal entry questions.

Journal entries  are the first step in the accounting cycle and are used to record all  business transactions  and events in the accounting system. As business events occur throughout the accounting period, journal entries are recorded in the general journal to show how the event changed in the accounting equation. For example, when the company spends cash to purchase a new vehicle, the cash account is decreased or credited and the vehicle account is increased or debited.

How to Make a Journal Entry

Here are the steps to making an accounting journal entry.

There are generally three steps to making a journal entry. First, the business transaction has to be identified. Obviously, if you don’t know a transaction occurred, you can’t record one. Using our vehicle example above, you must identify what transaction took place. In this case, the company purchased a vehicle. This means a new asset must be added to the accounting equation.

After an event is identified to have an economic impact on the accounting equation, the business event must be analyzed to see how the transaction changed the accounting equation. When the company purchased the vehicle, it spent cash and received a vehicle. Both of these accounts are asset accounts, so the overall accounting equation didn’t change. Total assets increased and decreased by the same amount, but an economic transaction still took place because the cash was essentially transferred into a vehicle.

After the business event is identified and analyzed, it can be recorded. Journal entries use debits and credits to record the changes of the accounting equation in the general journal. Traditional journal entry format dictates that debited accounts are listed before credited accounts. Each journal entry is also accompanied by the transaction date, title, and description of the event. Here is an example of how the vehicle purchase would be recorded.

Since there are so many different types of business transactions, accountants usually categorize them and record them in separate journal to help keep track of business events. For instance, cash was used to purchase this vehicle, so this transaction would most likely be recorded in the cash disbursements journal. There are numerous other journals like the sales journal, purchases journal, and accounts receivable journal.

We are following Paul around for the first year as he starts his guitar store called Paul’s Guitar Shop, Inc. Here are the events that take place.

Entry #1 — Paul forms the corporation by purchasing 10,000 shares of $1 par stock.

Journal Entry Example

Entry #2 — Paul finds a nice retail storefront in the local mall and signs a lease for $500 a month.

Journal Entries

Entry #3  — PGS takes out a bank loan to renovate the new store location for $100,000 and agrees to pay $1,000 a month. He spends all of the money on improving and updating the store’s fixtures and looks.

Journal Entry Format

Entry #4 — PGS purchases $50,000 worth of inventory to sell to customers on account with its vendors. He agrees to pay $1,000 a month.

Journal Entry Analysis

Entry #5  — PGS’s first rent payment is due.

Journal Entry Template

Entry #6 — PGS has a grand opening and makes it first sale. It sells a guitar for $500 that cost $100.

Sales Journal Entry Example

Entry #7 — PGS sells another guitar to a customer on account for $300. The cost of this guitar was $100.

Inventory Journal Entry Example

Entry #8 — PGS pays electric bill for $200.

Cash Disbursement Journal Entry Example

Entry #9  — PGS purchases supplies to use around the store.

Supplies Expense Journal Entry Example

Entry #10 — Paul is getting so busy that he decides to hire an employee for $500 a week. Pay makes his first payroll payment.

Payroll Journal Entry Example

Entry #11 — PGS’s first vendor inventory payment is due of $1,000.

Accounts Payable Journal Entry Example

Entry #12 — Paul starts giving guitar lessons and receives $2,000 in lesson income.

Income Journal Entry Example

Entry #13 — PGS’s first bank loan payment is due.

Notes Payable Journal Entry Example

Entry #14 — PGS has more cash sales of $25,000 with cost of goods of $10,000.

Merchandise Sale Journal Entry Example

Entry #15 — In lieu of paying himself, Paul decides to declare a $1,000 dividend for the year.

Dividend Journal Entry Example

Now that these transactions are recorded in their journals, they must be posted to the T-accounts or  ledger accounts  in the next step of the  accounting cycle .

Here is an additional list of the most common business transactions and the journal entry examples to go with them.

  • Depreciation Expense Entry
  • Accumulated Depreciation Entry
  • Accrued Expense Entry

What is a manual Journal Entry? 

Manual journal entries were used before modern, computerized accounting systems were invented. The entries above would be manually written in a journal throughout the year as business transactions occurred. These entries would then be totaled at the end of the period and transferred to the ledger. Today, accounting systems do this automatically with computer systems.

What is a general journal entry in accounting?

An accounting journal entry is the written record of a business transaction in a double entry accounting system. Every entry contains an equal debit and credit along with the names of the accounts, description of the transaction, and date of the business event.

What is the purpose of a journal and ledger?

The purpose of an accounting journal is record business transactions and keep a record of all the company’s financial events that take place during the year. An accounting ledger, on the other hand, is a listing of all accounts in the accounting system along with their balances.

What is the purpose of a journal entry?

A journal entry records financial transactions that a business engages in throughout the accounting period. These entries are initially used to create ledgers and trial balances. Eventually, they are used to create a full set of financial statements of the company.

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Writing a Personal Journal

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  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

A journal is a written record of incidents, experiences, and ideas. Also known as a  personal journal ,  notebook, diary , and log .

Writers often keep journals to record observations and explore ideas that may eventually be developed into more formal essays , articles , and stories .

"The personal journal is a very private document," says Brian Alleyne, "a place where the author records and reflects on life's events. Knowledge of the self in the personal journal is retrospective knowledge and therefore potentially narrative self-knowledge ( Narrative Networks , 2015).


  • "The writer's journal is a record of and workbook for your writing life. It is your repository for bits of experience, observation and thought destined for eventual use in one writing project or another. The entries in a personal journal tend to be abstract, but the entries in a writer's journal should be concrete." (Alice Orr, No More Rejections . Writer's Digest Books, 2004)
  • "All of us who keep journals do so for different reasons, I suppose, but we must have in common a fascination with the surprising patterns that emerge over the years—a sort of arabesque in which certain elements appear and reappear, like the designs in a well-wrought novel." (Joyce Carol Oates, interviewed by Robert Phillips. The Paris Review , Fall-Winter 1978)
  • "Think nothing too trifling to write down, so it be in the smallest degree characteristic. You will be surprised to find on reperusing your journal what an importance and graphic power these little particulars assume." (Nathaniel Hawthorne, letter to Horatio Bridge, May 3, 1843)

Poet Stephen Spender: "Write Anything"

"I feel as though I could not write again. Words seem to break in my mind like sticks when I put them down on paper. . . .

"I must put out my hands and grasp the handfuls of facts. How extraordinary they are! The aluminum balloons seem nailed into the sky like those bolts which hold together the irradiating struts between the wings of a biplane. The streets become more and more deserted, and the West End is full of shops to let. Sandbags are laid above the glass pavements over basements along the sidewalk. . . .

"The best thing is to write anything, anything that comes into my mind until there is a calm and creative day. It is essential to be patient and to remember that nothing one feels is the last word." (Stephen Spender, Journal , London, September 1939)

Orwell's Notebook Entry

"Curious effect, here in the sanatorium, on Easter Sunday, when people in this (the most expensive) block of 'chalets' mostly have visitors, of hearing large numbers of upper-class English voices. . . . And what voices! A sort of over-fedness, a fatuous self-confidence, a constant bah-bahing of laughter abt nothing, above all a sort of heaviness and richness combined with a fundamental ill will." (George Orwell, notebook entry for April 17, 1949, Collected Essays 1945-1950 )

Functions of a Journal

"Many professional writers use journals, and the habit is a good one for anybody interested in writing, even if he or she has no literary ambitions. Journals store perceptions, ideas, emotions, actions—all future material for essays or stories. The Journals of Henry Thoreau are a famous example, as are A Writer's Diary by Virginia Woolf, the Notebooks of the French novelist Albert Camus, and 'A War-time Diary' by the English writer George Orwell.

"If a journal is really to help you develop as a writer, you've got to do more than compose trite commonplaces or mechanically list what happens each day. You have to look honestly and freshly at the world around you and at the self within." (Thomas S. Kane, The New Oxford Guide to Writing . Oxford University Press, 1988)

Thoreau's Journals

"As repositories of facts, Thoreau's journals act like a writer's warehouse in which he indexes his stored observations. Here is a typical list:

It occurs to me that these phenomena occur simultaneously, say June 12, viz: Heat about 85 at 2P.M. True summer.
Hylodes cease to peep.
Purring frogs ( Rana palustris ) cease.
Lightning bugs first seen.
Bullfrogs trump generally .
Mosquitoes begin to be really troublesome.
Afternoon thunder-showers almost regular.
Sleep with open window (10th), and wear thin coat and ribbon neck.
Turtles fairly and generally begun to lay. [15 June 1860]

In addition to their function as storage, the journals constitute a complex of processing plants as well, where the notations become descriptions, meditations, ruminations, judgments, and other types of studies: 'From all points of the compass, from the earth beneath and the heavens above, have come these inspirations and been entered duly in the order of arrival in the journal. Thereafter, when the time arrived, they were winnowed into lectures, and again, in due time, from lectures into essays' (1845-1847). In short, in the journals, Thoreau negotiates the transformation of facts into forms of written expressions that have entirely different orders of resonance . . .." (Robert E. Belknap, The List: The Uses and Pleasures of Cataloguing . Yale University Press, 2004)

A Contrarian's View

"People ask whether I use a notebook, and the answer is no. I think a writer's notebook is the best way there is to immortalize really bad ideas, whereas the Darwinian process takes place if you don't write anything down. The bad ones float away, and the good ones stay." (Stephen King, quoted in "What's on Stephen King's Dark Side?" by Brian Truitt. USA Weekend , October 29-31, 2010)

Are Journal-Keepers Introspective or Self-Absorbed?

"Some people like to keep a journal. Some people think it’s a bad idea.

"People who keep a journal often see it as part of the process of self-understanding and personal growth. They don’t want insights and events to slip through their minds. They think with their fingers and have to write to process experiences and become aware of their feelings.

"People who oppose journal-keeping fear it contributes to self-absorption and narcissism. C.S. Lewis, who kept a journal at times, feared that it just aggravated sadness and reinforced neurosis. Gen. George Marshall did not keep a diary during World War II because he thought it would lead to 'self-deception or hesitation in reaching decisions.'

"The question is: How do you succeed in being introspective without being self-absorbed?" (David Brooks, "Introspective or Narcissistic?" The New York Times , August 7, 2014)

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The Center for Journal Therapy

Writing in a Journal: A Short Course on Journal Writing for 2023

Do any of the following statements or questions sound like you?

  • “I don’t have time to write a journal!”
  • “I don’t know what to write about!”
  • “How do I get started?
  • “I’m a lousy writer!”

If so, then this short course on journal writing is for you! Here are five easy steps to get started with writing, eight suggestions for new journal writers, and 14 writing techniques for your journal.

How to Get Started with Journal Writing

It’s Easy to W.R.I.T.E.

Just try these five easy steps. You’ll be writing in no time!

W – What do you want to write about? What’s going on? How do you feel? What are you thinking about? What do you want? Name it.

R – Review or reflect on it. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Focus. You can start with “I feel…” or “I want…” or “I think…” or “Today….” or “Right now…” or “In this moment…”

I –  Investigate your thoughts and feelings. Start writing and keep writing. Follow the pen/keyboard. If you get stuck or run out of juice, close your eyes and re-center yourself. Re-read what you’ve already written and continue writing.

T – Time yourself. Write for 5-15 minutes. Write the start time and the projected end time at the top of the page. If you have an alarm/timer on your PDA or cell phone, set it.

E – Exit smart by re-reading what you’ve written and reflecting on it in a sentence or two: “As I read this, I notice—” or “I’m aware of—” or “I feel—”. Note any action steps to take.

In summary….it’s easy to W.R.I.T.E. ! W hat topic? R eview/reflect I nvestigate T ime yourself E xit smart

Looking for free journaling workshops?  Check out our on-demand courses including “ J is for Journal: A Short Course on Writing for Healing, Growth, and Change ,” with seven lessons containing a total of 68 writing prompts!

Eight Suggestions for New Journal Writers

1. protect your privacy..

Store your journal in its own special place so that the temptation for others to read is diminished. Ask for agreement with your housemates that your journal is private. Reserve the first page of any new journal for your name and phone number or e-mail address, along with a notice: This is my personal journal. Please do not read it without my permission. If none of that would stop whoever might read your journal, get a shredder. Find a creative way to protect your privacy, such as a new gmail or yahoo account, freshly passworded, from which to write yourself at that address. Or keep your journal on a flash drive. Make your privacy an intentional act.

2. Start with an entrance meditation.

Nearly every journal technique benefits from a few minutes of focused quieting. Use visualization, soft music, candles, deep breathing, stretches, whatever works for you.

3. Date every entry.

If you only establish one habit in your journal, let it be this one! Dating every entry allows you to chronologically reconstruct your journal by date. It also lets you hear the silence between your entries.

4. Keep (and re-read) what you write.

Often the writes that feel like throw-aways contain the seeds for future insight. Keep it, re-read it later, and surprise yourself with how much you knew that you didn’t know you knew!

5. Write quickly.

You can outsmart dreaded “journal block” by writing so fast that the Internal Critic and the Internal Censor can’t keep up. Keep your pen moving!

6. Start writing; keep writing.

Start with the present moment (“What’s going on?”) Or start with a feeling (“I’m so mad I could bust!”) Or start with a story (“Today the weirdest thing happened….”) Once you’ve started, don’t go back to edit or rewrite. And don’t think too much. Let it flow.

7. Tell yourself the truth.

Your own truth is not your enemy. Don’t try to talk yourself out of knowing what you know or feeling what you feel. Give yourself permission to tell the truth. Also give yourself permission to pace yourself. If the truth seems too bright or harsh, then slow it down.

8. Write naturally.

If there is one inviolate rule of journal writing, it is that there simply are no rules! Do what works. Don’t worry about what you’re not doing. Give yourself permission. Let yourself enjoy the process!

14 Writing Techniques for Your Journal

1. sentence stem..

A sentence-completion process. Fill in the blank with a word or phrase. May be very universal (Right now I feel———-) or highly customized to an individual’s immediate question, problem or interest.

Start with the beginning of a sentence:

  • Today I will—
  • Right now I feel—
  • The most important thing to do—
  • I want—
  • I need—-
  • What I wish I could say to you—
  • If only I could—
  • I wonder–

—and finish it with a word, a thought, the rest of the sentence.

Boom. You’re done.

2. Five-Minute Sprint .

A timed writing process designed to bring focus and intensity in short bursts. Excellent for those who are resistant or aversive to journal writing, or who are uncertain about how to start, or who state they do not have time to write journals.

It’s a two-step process that couldn’t be more simple:

  • Set the timer on your phone or kitchen stove. Stop writing when signaled!
  • Keep your pen or fingers moving the entire time. It’s only five minutes. It goes fast.

Ready? Set your timers–and WRITE! Start with this prompt: What’s going on?

3. Inventory.

An assessment of life balance in major areas of living (health, family, home, work, spiritual/religious, emotional well-being, etc.) Gives a quick picture of which life areas might need attention.

4. Structured Write.

A series of Sentence Stems grouped and sequenced to reveal consistently deepening layers of information and awareness.

structured write journal writing technique example

5. Clustering.

Visual free-association from a central word or phrase. Lines and circles connect key thoughts and associations to the central core. Work quickly to maximize results. A brief writing to synthesize findings may follow.

clustering example for journal writing technique

6. Lists of 100.

A list of 100 items, many of which will probably be repetitions, on a predetermined theme or topic. Repetition is an important part of the process. Topics can be about any current issue (for example: 100 Things I’m Sad About; 100 Things I Need or Want to Do; 100 Places I Would Like to See). At the end of the list, group the responses into themes and synthesize the information.

In this video, Kathleen Adams, Founder of the Center for Journal Therapy, shares what she likes about using short lists as a journaling technique.

7. Alphapoem.

Write the alphabet, A-Z, or any collection of letters, vertically down the side of a page. Then write a poem in which each successive line begins with the next letter. Excellent for groups as it promotes a high level of participation and sharing. Adolescents and reluctant writers respond well.

Check out this example of an Alphapoem:

An Alphapoem on Alphapoems   

by Kay Adams and Scribe (journal group members)                             

A nticipate a B lossoming of                                                          C reative                                                                          D elight!                                                                          E asy, really, once you                                                    F ind the rhythm and the pace.                                                      G ather up the thoughts you                                          H old secret in your heart.                                                I magine them                                                                            J ust drifting out, a                                                                    K aleidoscope of                                                                        L etters                                                                                              M aking words. N o rules to follow–except the O bvious one. P erhaps you’ll find a poet inside? Q uite likely! R ead your Alphapoems; you’ll find them S tartlingly T rue–an U nusual way to give V oice to the W himpers, wonderings, whys, wins. X hilerating feeling to find Y ou’ve reached the Z enith of the poem!

8. Captured Moments.

Vignettes capturing the sensations of a particularly meaningful or emotional experience. Written from the senses with strong descriptors. Captured Moments of beauty, joy, blessing, calm can add balance, hope and perspective to a challenging time.

9. Unsent Letters .

A metaphoric communication to another that is written with the specific intention that it will not be shared.

10. Character Sketch .

A written portrait of another person or of an aspect of the self. Can also be written about emotions by personifying an emotion and giving it a characterization – an appearance, a style of dress, a personality and temperament.

11. Dialogue.

A metaphoric conversation written in two voices. Anyone or anything is an appropriate dialogue partner. There is no constriction by time, space, physical reality or literal voice.

On the page, it looks like a script:

Me:  So how do I do this?

Dialogue Partner:  Just ask me a question, and I’ll respond.

Me:  Seems a little silly.

D.P.:  Just make it up! Write the next thing in your head.

You can write a dialogue with anyone or anything: Your Wise Self, your spouse/partner/child, your job, your body, your feelings, your dreams and desires – anything goes!

12. Perspectives .

An alteration in point of view that provides a different perspective on an event or situation. Through magical realism, we can jump time, compare alternative realities and walk a mile in another’s moccasins. The writer experiences a new dimension of time, place or voice.

  • A different time:  Using imagery, time-travel to a date in the near or distant past or future. Write that altered date at the top of the page. Imagine who you are, how you feel, what is different, how a problem got solved or an issue resolved. Write in the present tense, as if it were that time.
  • A different place:  When faced with a tough choice or decision, jump time and write Perspectives entries in the present tense as if you’d made each choice. One man, conflicted about applying to medical school or a psychology program, saw himself miserable as a psychiatrist and fully engaged as a psychotherapist working with veterans and their families. See what nudges forward from your subconscious mind!
  • A different voice:  Write in someone else’s “I” voice, in the present tense, as if that person were writing in a journal about you or a disagreement (argument, conflict, painful difference) the two of you are experiencing.
  • Another different voice:  Alter your own voice by writing in past tense, in the third-person voice (s/he, her/his), about your own experience. This pulls back the camera lens, puts you in the role of omniscient  narrator/compassionate witness and allows useful distance and objectivity. This is particularly helpful if you are working with difficult stories that can create intense emotional states.

13. Springboard.

A free-write with a prompt. Starting a free-write with the smallest structure of a question, thought or topic can focus and frame the writing session.

Here are some sample springboards:

  • What’s the next thing to do?
  • A year from today, I will ….
  • Why don’t I … ?
  • I’m sorry I didn’t….
  • What am I avoiding?
  • If I knew I would succeed, I would ….
  • I want to overcome….
  • Where am I going?
  • What do I want?
  • If I weren’t scared….
  • What’s the best thing? What’s the worst thing?

In this video, Kathleen Adams, Founder of the Center for Journal Therapy, talks about using props to get started with writing.

14. Free Writing.

Unboundaried, unstructured, unpaced narrative writing. Useful for creative flow or spontaneous writing sessions. Can be structured by adding a time limit or page limit.

(c) Kathleen Adams. All rights reserved. For reprint permission please email us .

Center for Journal Therapy

3440 youngfield st., #411 wheat ridge, co. 80033 phone: (303) 209-9599 contact us >>.

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Examples of Reflective Writing

Types of reflective writing assignments.

A journal  requires you to write weekly entries throughout a semester. May require you to base your reflection on course content.

A learning diary is similar to a journal, but may require group participation. The diary then becomes a place for you to communicate in writing with other group members.

A logbook is often used in disciplines based on experimental work, such as science. You note down or 'log' what you have done. A log gives you an accurate record of a process and helps you reflect on past actions and make better decisions for future actions.

A reflective note is often used in law. A reflective note encourages you to think about your personal reaction to a legal issue raised in a course.

An essay diary  can take the form of an annotated bibliography (where you examine sources of evidence you might include in your essay) and a critique (where you reflect on your own writing and research processes).

a peer review  usually involves students showing their work to their peers for feedback.

A self-assessment task  requires you to comment on your own work.

Some examples of reflective writing

Social science fieldwork report (methods section), engineering design report, learning journal (weekly reflection).

Brookfield, S 1987, Developing critical thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting , Open University Press, Milton Keynes.

Mezirow, J 1990, Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: a guide to transformative and emancipatory learning , Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Schön, DA 1987, Educating the reflective practitioner , Jossey-Bass. San Francisco.

We thank the students who permitted us to feature examples of their writing.

Prepared by Academic Skills, UNSW. This guide may be distributed or adapted for educational purposes. Full and proper acknowledgement is required. 

Essay and assignment writing guide

  • Essay writing basics
  • Essay and assignment planning
  • Answering assignment questions
  • Editing checklist
  • Writing a critical review
  • Annotated bibliography
  • How do I write reflectively?
  • Examples of reflective writing
  • ^ More support

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  • Journal Entries

Do you need a place to jot down your thoughts? Writing entries in a journal can help you to turn your thoughts into words. The topics that you write in journal entries can be a daily reflection, weekly gratitude or even an opinion that is stuck in your mind. Unlike micro-blogging on blog and in social media, the great thing about writing in a journal is that it is private. No one can see what you write in a journal!

So, what exactly are journal entries?

A handsome man holding a journal book.

Journal entries are individual pieces of writing that forms your personal journal. They can be as short as a caption to as long as 500-1000 words entry. You can freely express each of the entry with thoughts, rants, reflections, and pour out feelings.

4 Tips for Writing Journal Entries

If you have decided what to write about, how to frame your entry, and determine when to write, you will find that you’ll have a much easier time writing a journal entry. However, sometimes you might find it difficult to start a journal entry due to writer's block . One way to overcome writer's block is through streams of consciousness writing . You are just jotting down the first thoughts that come into your mind, no matter how senseless they sound. This is an effective way to get started!

Open a blank journal entry.

From gratitude journal entries, travel journal entries, to dream journal entries, here are some other creative ways to get you started.

1. Write a List

Lists are an easy way to get you started. You can write a to-do list of things you want to accomplish over the days or year. You can start an entry by bullet listing different things such as personal goals and things that you have achieved at that moment.

2. Use a Photo

Journey allows you to add pictures to your journal entries. If you find it difficult to write, you can add a picture and write about what it means to you. It can be a picture of a special moment, your loved ones, your pets or places you have visited. Use this image to get you started.

Top view camera with pictures in a photo entry.

3. Reflect on an Inspirational Quote

Journey updates journal prompts in the app daily to inspire and motivate you to succeed. Take a moment to reflect on the inspirational quotes and write your thoughts in your journal.

4. Write a Memory

Photos in journal entry.

Write a memory that you find important and worthwhile to remember in the future. It can be something you think about often. Describe that memory and what it means to you. How did it make you feel at that time?

The best way to get started with your first journal entry is to download Journey and begin writing using this app. It is easy-to-use, private and secure. All your posts are dated and saved, so all you need to worry about it what to write. Use this list and get started today!

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Get access to your diary wherever you are – download the free Journey app for your all of your iOS and Android devices today!

Journal Basics

Understand what a journal is, and it's functions

Understand the essence of journal entries.

Your guide to understanding how you can benefit from journaling

Explore the various journal types to serve your needs

Your guide to starting your very own journal today

Journaling prompts to guide you along your reflection

Diary Basics

Your guide to understanding and starting a diary of your own

Record your life with a series of diary entries

Key differences between a diary and a journal

Tips and tricks to start your very own diary today

Your guide to the many diary types you can explore

Discover the benefits of diary and journal software

Get started with your very own digital diary

Simple and effective templates to help you start writing and reflecting

Ideas for Journals

Focus on the positive things in your live.

Write one line a day for the next five years.

A bible journal is one that holds your thoughts and reflections after a religion class and feelings that concerns life.

Record your dreams on a regular basis and keep track of the dream's themes and patterns.

Document your adventures, road trips, places that you have visited, and discoveries that you made along the way.

A self-reflective journal helps you to create your life with intention.

Cultivating inner strength and resilience using stoic journal.

Reignite your relationship, deepen communication, and strengthen your bond.

Write a personalized experience of your pregnancy journey.

Equip yourself with on a journey towards improving your sleep

Managing anxiety through structured journal reflection.

Secure, encrypted and private journaling technology.

Ideas for Diaries

A guide to starting your very own school diary

Keep a log of all your daily meals to ensure a balanced nature diet.

Get motivated, organized and productive by journaling

Private journal secured with a lock for confidentiality.

A guide to starting your health and fitness journey

Streams of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning.

Journal Prompts

Inspiring list of over 100 prompts for enhancing journal creativity.

Prompts to guide reflection and gratitude entries in a daily journal.

Collection of prompts to inspire expressive writing for mental health.

List of 100 self-care journal prompts designed to inspire emotional wellness.

Healing through journaling guidance.

Invigorate your mornings with over 100 thoughtful and inspiring prompts.

Prompts inspire kids to write creatively about diverse topics daily.

Stay calm with 60 journal prompts for anxiety relief.

Explore beginner journaling with daily prompts for reflective writing practice.

Digital Planners

A way to organize your time and your life

Create your own faithful digital planning companion

Find the planner for you

Make every week your best week

Master time management with a productivity planner

A faithful guide on your fitness journey


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    Contents [ show] Journal entries are the first step in the accounting cycle and are used to record all business transactions and events in the accounting system. As business events occur throughout the accounting period, journal entries are recorded in the general journal to show how the event changed in the accounting equation.

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