7 ways to jump start your journal

April 15, 2018

featured header text on yellow*the following is a revised update to the original post I wrote here in the dim and distant past

Do you have a weakness for pretty blank notebooks only to get them home and have them to sit forlornly unused for fear of ‘spoiling’ them?

I feel you!

There is something quite daunting about the emptiness of the first page in a blank book.

A trepidation that even the most practiced journalist or book-keeper can have a tricky time moving past.

All the more so when the book in question is a thing of tactile beauty.

There is this unwritten (pardon the irony) feeling that somehow our first pages have to be amazing and just so.

What then to do?

There are a number of tricks I have learnt over the years I have journalled myself, but ultimately just as a blank book is full of possibility so too is there room for starting your next blank book however you want. There is no right or wrong way of doing this.

A blank book is to be used after all (even abused in the case of the Wreck this Journal project).

Here then are my favourite ways to begin. So take a deep breath and start!

Take a deep breath and start! 7 ways to fill the first page of your blank journal c/o @gingerurchin #journalkeeping #creativepractice

1 // Blank page

Who says you have to start on that very first page?

Although not really the true beginning of my journalling process, I have taken to skipping that first sheet so as to prevent my first actual page from imprinting on the inside cover when I move to the next few subsequent pages.

A first page often gets a little scruffy after a while too, so this practice of skipping forward saves that dilemma. Win-win!

2 // Title page

If I am starting a fresh journal at the beginning of a new year, then one of my favourite ways to start is with the creation of a simple title page that states the year.

At one time too I used to keep lots of topic-specific journals, so again this first page could host the title or theme you are going to keep records of here. Keep it plain or get fancy with collage cuttings that relate to future contents.

Like the blank page option before this, such a title sheet will protect the subsequent pages and inside cover.

3 // Goals

Another good one at the start of a new year, season or month, is doing a master braindump of all the current goals, intentions, projects, ideas or todos that you have rolling around in your head.

If your journal is going to be more like a daybook, this list is a great way to put everything in one place and refer to as you move forward. Then as needed, create updated lists throughout the journal as things get completed, become outdated or new ideas come in.

4 // Calendar or Schedule

Draw out or paste in a calendar for the month or week at a glance and enter pertinent dates and activities.

Simple but effective.

5 // Ephemera Collage

I currently have a Smash book for pasting all those little pieces of paper ephemera that I cannot bring myself to throw out - postcards or cute notes from friends, interesting labels, odd stamps from faraway places, ticket stubs, business cards and more.

Why not instead save that first inside page to collage some of those paper scraps that come your way during the lifetime of your journal?

6 // Doodle

Colouring and drawing for adults is an increasingly popular way to de-stress and unplug from our otherwise heavily digital lives. From zentangles to mandalas to free-form abstraction, get creative (even if you feel you are otherwise) and fill your first page with doodles, shapes, patterns and colour.

Two quick ways to begin are:

:: grab a collection of circular objects from around the house or office and fill the page with circles that overlap, or stack within in various sizes before infilling with a variety of lines, dots or shapes that can then be coloured using simple tools from around your immediate environment - can’t beat a trusty biro!

:: or, scribble loose and random with your non-dominant hand before going back to fill in the shapes you created with dots, stripes and colour.

7 // Habits & Feel Goods

What positive, nourishing, and ways to improve your days do you want to integrate into your life?

Some days you might do all of them, others you may barely get to do one. This is not about success or failure but of having creating a toolkit of activities available to us. Create a page of gentle reminders of the habits you aspire to keep.

Alternatively you could compile a resource list (illustrated if you so wish) of your most trusted go-to tools for when you are having a tough day so they are always at hand. One of my favourites at present is a ridiculous photo of a scruffy tiny dog.

Bonus // Dive Right In!

Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and get to it. Just show up and continue where you left off from your previous journal - you know, that one you also had trepidation starting.

There are as many ways to start a journal as there are journal-keepers, and whatever ways work for you are the right ways. Some days one technique will work better than another and over time what works, may no longer.

However you do it, you cannot go wrong.

In the meantime, I hope these ideas have sparked your own methods of overcoming the fear of the blank page. The real trick to keeping a journal is to continue showing up and not giving up.

Over to you // what’s your go-to method for starting a blank book? Please share your ideas below so others can get inspired also.

An infopreneur and creative mentor, Beka Buckley is passionate about exploring the intersection between creativity, spirituality, and entrepreneurship. With a focus on sharing craft, blogging and social media guides on her blog, she helps can-do, creative souls become independent leaders of their domains, both on and offline.

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