How to Write a Journal Entry

Three Methods:Sample EntriesJournaling for YourselfJournalism for School

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.

Sample Entries

Sample Personal Journal

Sample School Journal

Sample Personal Journal Entry


Method 1
Journaling for Yourself

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Choose a setting that's conducive to writing. Place yourself in an environment that makes you feel like writing, 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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Keep writing. The more dedicated you are to your journal, the more valuable it becomes. Find ways to make journalism habit, and keep doing it.

Method 2
Journalism for School

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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..."

Tips

  • You don't have to begin with the typical "Dear Diary". This may seem a little strange. Address it to anyone, yourself, or nobody. Just start writing.
  • Take your time, don't rush and try to get everything down. It might make your info a little more overwhelming than powerful and meaningful.
  • 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. This is a very good idea!
  • Writing can consume you once it grabs you. Don't expect to ever be able to give it up!
  • Write out full conversations. Make it like a book.
  • 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.

Warnings

  • 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!

Article Info

Categories: Journal Writing