What to Journal

Day One Journaling Series:

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One of the hardest things you face after starting a journal is figuring out what to write. I’m not going to lie, my first week with Day One was an utter disappointment. I was tremendously excited to start a journal of my own; however, once I sat down to write, not a single word came out. I had no idea where to begin. I had hit a tremendous barrier: what should I write?

I could’ve given up back then, settling with the idea of producing mundane journal entries of irrelevant things. But I chose not to; I was destined to start journaling.

I then had the idea of looking at some other journals around the web, figuring it would give me the inspiration I needed to kick things off. As I read the written accounts I loved to admire, I simultaneously jotted down some ideas for what I wanted to include in my journal. This process allowed me to come with my own list of things I should be writing down in my journal. When the most varied topics presented themselves, I felt stupid for not thinking of them before. It was so obvious what sort of things I should write about. The things were so in front of me that I became blind to them.

Since I know that many face the same issue I did, here are some ideas I gathered of what to journal about. I hope they help you get started.

Your Innermost Thoughts

Like I’ve mentioned both in previous posts and in the first post of this series, ​intimate journaling is the true essence of journaling. My Day One journal is the place where I jot down my feelings of joy and anger, hope and despair, excitement and depression, love and sadness. If I feel that what currently is on my mind is of some sort of importance to me as a person, I write it down. Journaling my innermost thoughts ensures me that I will remember what I once believed was of true value to me. It enables me to look back and understand how I evolved and developed as a person.

Things That Impacted You: Events, Articles, Quotes, Ideas

Using your journal to ruminate not only on your personal thoughts, but on things that deeply impacted you is a great idea. Sometimes you read a quote or article, and hear about an idea of philisophy that you relate to; your journal is an ideal place for you to reflect upon these. Because, truth be told, most of the times the important component is not the quote or article itself, but what impact that particular things had in your life.


Goals You Wish to Achieve

Your Day One journal is a great place to store the goals you want to achieve. ​I don’t mean daily goals, or even a to-do list; I mean long-term personal goals like learning a language or improving a certain aspect of my behavior. This makes my journal an incredibly useful tool that empowers me to review my goals and objectives from a more critical standpoint, given I can see how my objectives change throughout my life. It is definetely a curious exercise to track the change in your priorities as time and context alter.

Your Impressions on Movies, Books, Music

Triggered by the advent of tags in the Day One—more on tags and journal organization on part four of the series—I started to use my journal a full-fledged Book, Movie, and Music Journal as well. ​By using tags as folders for my entries, I could add sections for books, movies, music, documentaries, and games to my journal. This way, If I wanted to see what I thought about a book I read a while ago, I could simply go to the book “folder” and read my impressions on it. My impressions on a book and my feelings toward it are definitely something I believe should be part of anyone’s Day One journal.


You’ll be impressed how much more you take away from albums, movies, and books once you sit down to write about it. It blew my mind the first time I sat down to really think about a movie. So much goes unoticed when you don’t have to write about it.

Little Moments of Joy

Probably my favorite thing to journal is little moments of joy I’m almost certain to forget 20 years from now. Sometime there are just some moments in your life—a hug, a kiss, a goodbye—that while at a glance may seem irrelevant, have a long-lasting importance for you. Writing a bit about the moment, or even taking a picture of it, eternalizes it for you.


When you are reminiscing your college years when you are on your sixties, you’ll be glad to have jotted down that incredible moment of joy when you come home after your first semester of college abroad. It’s the little things that matter in life.

Memorable Meals

This is really self-explanatory, and goes along pretty much with memorable moments. Sometimes you just eat something so good, or that felt really good, that you want to remember it. A simple two sentence journal entry about it is all that you need here.

Places You Visited

Recording places that triggered special memories when you visited them can also be something great to include in your Day One journal. Being able to take pictures, geotag them, and add a personal explanation of what you thought of a place is the gold standard for remembering a travelling experience, or location, forever.


Drawing the Line

It is clear by now the numerous things you can put on your journal. The hard part though, is chosing what not to put on it. Drawing the line for what your journal should be a container for becomes a crucial excercise for its relevance in the future. In my case for instance, I see my Day One journal as a place to place things that I hold dear to my heart. I do not see Day One as a place to put information such as how my stocks fared that day, or how many new twitter followers I got.

That doesn’t mean that for you it isn’t the place to store those things, nonetheless it is important to define what you should and shouldn’t put in your journal. And here is where lies the beauty of a personal journal, it can become whatever you want it to become.

This is part of the Day One Series, a special collection of articles by user Tulio Jarocki about journaling.

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