Journaling doesn't have to be aesthetic to be effective [#5]

Why you don't need coffee, expensive journals, or gold pens to see real benefits from journaling.

Journaling doesn't have to be aesthetic to be effective [#5]

I wake up at 8am.

I stumble out of bed and start to brew my morning coffee – a dark roast from only the finest Ethiopian jungles. While it boils, I grab my expensive journal and my fancy gold pen and I find a place to sit outside.

Surrounded by lush trees and chirping birds, I peacefully spend the next hour and a half recording all my reflections and thoughts from yesterday. I take great calligraphic care with every word I write, giving my Rs and Ls extravagant curls.

Once I’m finally done, I breathe a sigh of satisfaction and head back inside.

Ah, shoot. I forgot about my coffee.

My black coffee pot lies broken on the floor, burnt, holding remnants of (maybe?) still drinkable coffee. I suppose I won’t be having much caffeine today.

But hey, at least I can write about this misadventure tomorrow morning!

Except, of course, I don’t do any of that.

I don’t drink coffee. I don’t have an expensive notebook or a fancy gold pen. And I definitely don’t sit outside to journal.

Instead, I sit inside at my desk. Every night, I spend 5-10 minutes typing out my daily journal entry, and I use a simple tool: the Apple Notes app on Mac.

I’ve been journaling every day for the past six months. Since I’ve started on June 19, 2022, I’ve never missed a day. My goal is to write 365 consecutive journal entries over the course of one year.

You don’t need an extravagant and aesthetic journaling routine to reap the many rewards of spending a few minutes to write every day.

If you want to start journaling, I would highly recommend starting right now. There is no better time to start.

It is better to do something than to do nothing while waiting to do everything. —Winston Churchill

Additionally, there are many advantages of journaling, which include reduced stress, deepened self-discovery, and a boost in health and well-being (source).

If you've already started to journal, awesome! If you want to continue the positive habit of journaling, I’d recommend the following three tips:

1. The 50-Word Rule

For every journal entry I write, I force myself to write 50+ words. It’s always better to write something than it is to write nothing. And writing 50 words is trivially easy. When I don’t feel like writing, I simply ask myself:

“Nathan, writing 50 words takes like 5 minutes. Is it really that difficult to spend 5 minutes of your night writing?”

And this tactic works pretty well for me. 80% of my journal entries contain 150+ words.

2. Be Kind to Yourself

Sometimes you simply don’t have enough time or energy in your day to write – and that's okay. Everyone has tough days (including me). Jot down two or three thoughts about your day, and just write that journal entry tomorrow.

3. Have Concrete Goals

When you start journaling, have a goal or two in mind. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to...

  • Write a certain number of journal entries?
  • Reduce your anxiety / depression?
  • Become a better writer?
  • Build a positive habit?

Write down that goal so you'll be more committed to it.


  • Journaling doesn’t have to be glamorous or aesthetic to provide a host of benefits.
  • If you want to start journaling, start now.
  • Use the 50-word rule and have concrete goals, but also remember to be kind to yourself if you miss a day.