What to Journal

by Tulio Jarocki


One of the hardest things when 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 took my quandary to the web and looked at other journals, figuring it would give me the inspiration I needed to kick things off. As I read journal entries and blog posts, I noted what I wanted to include in my journal. Since I know that many face the same issues I did, here are some ideas I’ve gathered:

Your Innermost Thoughts

​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 what’s on my mind is important, I write it down. Journaling my innermost thoughts ensures 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, and 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 might read an article or quote, or hear some philosophical idea that you relate to. Your journal is an ideal place for you to reflect upon these things. Because, truth be told, most of the times the important component is not the quote or article itself, but what impact that particular thing had on your life.

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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 to-do lists. I mean long-term personal goals like learning a language or improving a personal trait or behavior. As my goals change throughout life, my journal becomes an incredibly useful tool for reviewing where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. It’s an insightful exercise to track your fluctuating priorities as time and context change.

Your Impressions on Movies, Books, and Music

Triggered by the advent of tags in Day One, I started to use my journal as a full-fledged book, movie, and music journal as well. ​By using tags as “folders” for my entries, I add sections in my journal for my impressions about books, movies, music, documentaries, and games. If I want to see what I thought about a book I read a while ago, I simply view my “book” entries and read my impressions on it. One’s impressions and feelings about books are definitely something I believe should be part of anyone’s Day One journal.

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

Little Moments of Joy

Probably my favorite thing to journal is little moments of joy. Sometimes these things—a hug, a kiss, a goodbye—that while at a glance may seem irrelevant, have long-lasting importance for you. Writing a bit about the moment, or even taking a picture of it, eternalizes it for you.

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When I am sixty years old, reminiscing my college years, I’ll be glad to have jotted down that incredible moment of joy when I came home after my 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 that you want to remember it. A simple two-sentence journal entry with a picture will suffice.

Places You Visited

Recording special memories of places you visited is also a great addition to your Day One journal. Being able to take pictures, geotag them, and add a personal explanation of what you thought of a place is an excellent way to remember your travels, forever.

Drawing the Line

There are a lot of things you can put in your journal. The hard part, though, is choosing what not to put in it. Deciding what your journal should be for you is a crucial exercise, especially if you want your journal to be invaluable in the future. For me, I see my Day One journal as a place to store things dear to my heart—the things listed above—and it doesn’t include things like how my stocks fared or how many new Twitter followers I got. Those things just aren’t important to me, but, they might be to you. Herein lies the beauty of a personal journal—it can become whatever you want it to be, shaped one entry at a time.


This is the second part of a series of articles about journaling by Day One user Tulio Jarocki. Read Part 1: Why Journal and Why Day One?

More to come via Publish by Day One


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