Having a new notebook is a fantastic feeling, until you come to write on the first page. An empty notebook has so much potential, what will you fill the pages with? Of course, the first page is no different to any other page, but for some reason it can feel daunting.
Why is writing on the first page of a notebook so hard?
A common reason people find it hard to start the first page is uncertainty about how or what to write, perhaps mingled with not knowing how you’ll use the book in the future. Some people worry about making mistakes. The pressure to make a good impression on the first page, which may be seen more than other page, can be daunting and lead to anxiety about getting it just right. Lastly, there may be a sense of reluctance to ruin something that looks clean and untouched.
Here are some suggestions, to deal with these worries:
- Just start: Sometimes, taking that initial step and putting words on the page, no matter how imperfect, can help overcome the fear and get into a flow.
- Practice: If starting directly on the first page feels too intimidating, try practicing elsewhere—whether it’s in a separate document or in another notebook—until you feel more comfortable.
- Do the same thing in each book: Establishing a routine or specific format when starting each notebook can create familiarity so you being with confidence.
Ideas for the first page of a new notebook
- Copy in a headline from today’s news (get it from a newspaper or website)
- Write a list of wishes
- Intentionally leave it blank (I often do this as the first page of a journal is often bound differently so is less comfortable to write on)
- Write a list of things you are grateful for
- Stick in a photograph or picture of yourself
- Explain the notebook theme and why you chose it
- Complete a questionnaire about yourself e.g. weight, height, where you live
- Explain the people who you may mention in the book e.g. family tree, groups by association like work, list any abbreviations you use to refer to people such as initials
- Add your personal contact details (just in case you leave it somewhere)
- Write a prayer, mediation or affirmation, something that describes your current spiritual outlook
- Leave it blank so you can add a review or synopsis of the notebook once you’ve filled it
- Stick in a year summary calendar (potentially useful if you use a blank notebook instead of a dated one)
- Stick in a favourite picture
- Keep a store of useful information e.g. frequently used telephone numbers
- Write a summary of your goals or your mission statement
- Explain how you got the notebook e.g. gift from friend, bought on holiday
- Keep a list e.g. books read, countries visited
- Write a greeting to the book, possibly including an agreement about when, where and how you’ll use it
- Explain the notebooks purpose e.g. dream journal, to capture ideas while travelling
- Write a summary of your current situation e.g. where you live, job, relationships
- Write your feelings about the notebook and what you hope it will contain
- Copy in a favourite poem or lyric
- Write a favourite quote
- List of journaling prompts you want to be able to access easily
- Start straight into a journal entry
- Cover the pages with a collection of stickers
BONUS: If you’re writing a specific pandemic journal you could start with
- a description of Covid-19
- when and how you first heard about the virus
- a map showing how it has spread around the world
- why you want to keep a pandemic journal
- a history of how the pandemic started
Ideas if you don’t like your first page
What if you write the wrong thing? What if your writing is messy? What if you decide you want to use the notebook for a different purpose? These all feel valid when you’re sitting in front of notebook, but when you really think about it, it is just a notebook. There are lots of things you can do if you decide you don’t like what you did on the first page.
- tear the page out (but first think about if you really want to remove it)
- cover the page with a picture so you can’t see what is underneath
- stick the page to the preceeding page
- annotate the page with a description of why you no longer like it
- decorate the page e.g. coloured patterns, stickers
- write a new first page and stick it over the top
Your ideas for the first page of a journal
Thank you to everyone who has written a comment sharing what you do on the first page. There are many great ideas that I haven’t considered and I love the variety; some are written as inspiration at the start of the journal, others are factual and others provide a comparison of yourself over time.
So if you are feeling daunted, here are more ideas on what to do with the first page:
- List of goals or the things you are aiming to achieve
- List of quotes
- List of writing prompts
- Write a paragraph explaining the purpose of the journal
- Favourite quote
- Summary of your life so far
- Quote lyrics to a song that relates to the journal
- Create a collage to visualise your intention for the journal – from Christina
- Date started and finished the journal – from Emma
- Write something personal and tear out the page – from AH
- Sign the page each time you write in the journal
- Add a picture of yourself, friends and family
- Write about your feelings about yourself, the things you love and the key people in your life
- Dedicate the book to your self-discovery process – from Nancy Andres
- Introduce yourself.
How do I start my journals?
The first page is no different to the rest of the journal, so I write my first journal entry, although I usually make an effort to write neater. I do like the idea of writing an introduction at the start of every journal so I can compare how I’ve changed and developed over time, but I haven’t started this yet.
What do you do on the first page of a journal? Do you do anything special? Have you done this consistently over time? Have you every wanted to remove or redo a first page?
Frequently asked questions
What is so important about the first page?
Truthfully there is nothing important about the first page, it is just the same as any other page in the journal. However, it is a page that you could see often when you open the book so you might want to do something you’ll enjoy seeing. Or it can be a useful reference place if there are things you’d like to track over several books.
Do I need to do something special on the first page?
No. Your journal is your journal and you do what you want on the first page and every other page. One way of getting around seeing the first page each time you open the book is to use a bookmark to take you to the next blank page.
Do I need to do the same thing in every notebook?
No. Again, these are your books and you do what every you want. You could do something similar in the front of each book you use for the same intention, for example if you have a gardening journal start each book with a picture of your garden now. Or you can do something different in each journal, this gives you the opportunity to decide which you enjoy the most and to adapt as you grow. Or can do nothing and just start writing.
Can I use this list as things to write in a notebook?
Absolutely. This list doesn’t need to be limited to just the first page. For example, instead of just using a quote at the start of the journal, you could use one at the start each month or you can write a list of things you are grateful for each week.