Starting is the hardest part. That first blank page staring us in the face, daring us to mess it up. The worry that one misspelled word, one poorly laid line, and we will prove ourselves inadequate. The fear that our handwriting just isn't pretty enough.
Whatever the reason, the first page is an intimidating thing, and can kill your journaling before you've even started. Sometimes it's fear that stops us, or the pressure to make things perfect... other times it's writer's block, a complete lack of inspiration. If either of these sounds familiar to you, here are a few ideas that just might help.
Before we get into it, I have one important piece of advice: no matter what you choose to do for the first page of your new journal, don't be afraid of making mistakes. I enjoy looking at gorgeous journals on Pinterest just as much as you do, but don't let those – seemingly – perfect pages keep you from putting your own ideas onto paper. My journals are full of crossed out words, sloppy handwriting, and fudged spelling mistakes. It's okay. After all, this journal is for you, and as it turns out, those little imperfections don't take away from the content of what you write.
1. Add an introduction page. I start almost all of my journals with an intro page. This is the perfect way to overcome the "I don't know what to write" syndrome. Keep it fairly short – anywhere from a couple of paragraphs to a page or two. You can outline your intention for the journal, how you plan to use it, or give some background to provide context. If you were to look back on this journal five years from now, this page would tell you exactly what your thoughts were going into it. For an example, click here to read the full intro page of my most recent journal.
2. Start your blank journal with a quote you find inspiring. This is another favorite trick I use, and I often include a quote just before or after my intro page. Choose a quote that sets the tone for your journal, or one that reminds you of the person you aspire to be. You can also pick just one word that reminds you of something you want to reach for in life. If you have pretty handwriting or like to hand-letter, write the quote or word big across the first page of your journal. If not, try tiny block letters for a clean, simple look that anyone can do. See the photo at the top of this post for an idea from my own journal. For quote inspiration, check out this pinterest board.
3. Add some art to your journal. If you like to draw, paint, or doodle, why not fill the first page with something fun? If writer's block is the problem, breaking out the art supplies can be a good way to get the creative juices flowing. If you aren't so confident in your artistic ability, there are still plenty of ways to beautify your journal that don't require much skill. Try pressing your palm into paint and making a handprint across the first page. When it dries, sign your name or write a word that inspire you across it. Play with abstract lines, or washi tape, or clippings from magazines. Make a mess! If it doesn't turn out perfect, good. It will make page two that much easier.
4. Add a photograph. Print off a favorite photo and stick it inside the first page of your journal. You can use any kind of adhesive to add photos into your journal (glue, washi tape, sticky dots) but my personal go-to are photo corners. They're archival quality, meaning they won't yellow the paper over time, and they allow the photo to be slipped in and out as you like. (I like to pop the photos out, write on the page behind the photo, then stick it back in, like a hidden message only I know about.)
5. Skip the first page all together. What is it about page one that feels so daunting? If you've ever had a staring contest with a blank page (it's a losing battle, trust me), here's a tip: Skip it! Quit worrying about the perfect thing to say, and start journaling on the next page. After a while, that first page won't feel so intimidating, because the book is already started – you can always come back later to fill it in if you want. If you're starting a written journal, skip just one or two pages, leaving yourself enough room to put something in later if you feel like it. If you're beginning an art journal, who says you need to start at the beginning? Why not skip to the middle, or go back-to-front?
Do you have a favorite way to start a journal, or a killer trick for beating writer's block? Share it in the comments below!
And if you'd like to share your own journaling ideas, entries, or photos with me, email them to thegratitudelog (at) gmail (dot) com. I'd be glad to read them!