Junk Journaling: Where to Start?

You have a brand new notebook, you have some junk journaling supplies, and you’ve seen so many inspiringly beautiful posts on instagram. But now you are just staring at an empty page and a pile of “stuff”. There’s no way you can compete with the inspiration you’ve seen. There is too much space to cover between these two pages and you have no idea which spot is the best spot or which piece of paper is the best piece to anchor your design.

(Some links in this post are affiliate links. As an Affiliate, I receive a commisson on any purchase made through my affiliate links.)

Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have ideas. And I know what works for me – maybe it will work for you, too!

What supplies do you need?

A notebook would be helpful. Some glue or a tape runner. And some “stuff”. The stuff can be nearly anything: birthday cards, stickers from your childhood, washi tape, pages ripped from a magazine or old book (preferably not an antique, first edition), scrapbook paper, receipts, pictures, printed images or planner dashboards. While it is fun to go and buy a bunch of new things, most of what you need is likely already nearby.

If gathering supplies feels overwhelming, or you just want to try out this process and not buy a ton of stuff you might not use, I’ve created the solution for you: Journaling Boxes! You can go to my Etsy Shop, ellieandasherbee, and pick up a box full of journaling supplies! Everything you will need to get started after you have your notebook. When I put the boxes together, it’s with intention – considering colors, type of material, and aesthetic – and not just putting my hand in a bucket and putting whatever I pick up into the box. Even if this isn’t new to you, this could be a perfect way to add new items to your stash and to try out some of my favorite journaling tools.

Here is an example of a journaling box from my shop:

If you don’t yet have a notebook, my most used ones are from Archer & Olive. You can use my affiliate code – meganb10 – for 10% off! It often even works on sale items! I also really like Stalogy, Leuchtturm1917, and I’ve been using my Aura Estelle A6 planner as part planner, part memory and junk journal. Also, a composition notebook works great! I used them when I was a preteen to tape in torn out magazine pictures of Usher and the Backstreet Boys.

Now you are still sitting there in front of your journal and a pile of stuff, where do you start?

I start with one single piece of paper, or something similar that I simply like or think is pretty. It doesn’t have to go with anything near it, or be inspiring, or even be a color scheme I feel confident with. Like this paper torn from a JMBLiving journal:

This page was beautiful. And while I hate to tear something apart, I also realize I could give this image a new life. This paper is now sitting on a blank Archer & Olive notebook spread. Where do I put it? I place it on the notebook pages in different spots until I shrug and go: “This looks fine”. And I then glue it down.

What comes next: Using this single image as a guide, I go through my stash and find other pieces that compliment it. Notice how I did not say they “go” with it – creativity doesn’t need rules so strict.

I spread them out on the pages and move them around a little. Actually, I move them around closer to a lot. Removing and adding pieces as I do. Notice how I not only moved the pieces around, I also “edited” some a bit by ripping them.

Once I have all those pieces picked out, I also like to pick out one that does not “match” or is a color not found within anything else I am looking at. Again, rules aren’t real. Well, most rules aren’t. (Glue from a glue gun is hot, so don’t touch it.) My spread here mostly has greens, oranges, and blues. So I chose a pretty, soft pink, flowery image.

Spoiler: I didn’t end up using it. I will often pick out some washi, too, because it works great to fill in spaces and add texture with design and layering.

This combo did not suit my feelings at that moment.

So I choose these instead.

That’s how I start and how I follow inspiration. Overthinking kills my motivation. Second guessing and questioning choices kills my creativity. So, I just go with it.

Sometimes I create something I do not like, but that’s okay because I can try again. I just leave it there and move on. Often (almost always) I find it’s not so bad once I get a fresh look at it later (hours, days, or weeks later). As a matter of fact, I was worried about this spread because I had created it knowing I would use it for this blog post. I worried people would look at it and go: “Why would I buy a journaling box from this lady? Her journaling is ugly and uninspired!” But looking at it now, I really enjoy it and I am super glad I didn’t give up. So, I think, most importantly, it’s about having an outlet and making something with your hands. Perfection was never part of the deal.

Here it is:

I suppose a final question could be how do you know when you are done. You don’t. Eventually, you just stop. Then maybe add one more thing. And THEN you stop. (I did end up using that washi I thought I didn’t like.) I nearly always leave at least a small open space in case I decide to write something in it some day. This is not my main purpose or goal when I junk journal, though. However, it could be yours! So leave as much space as you need!

I thought I was done when I took this picture. But went back and added a few more things (mainly, girls from PaperMintyStudio.).

Remember, this was all about MY process. It is meant to encourage you to find your own groove, not to give you a step-by-step tutorial to follow exactly. However, I am super happy to answer any questions you may have about my process. Or how to get started? Or, really, anything else? Comment below, send me an email, or send me a DM on IG – @meganbplansitall.

Peace & Cookies!


Curated Journaling Supplies Box – ellieandasherbee Etsy Listing

“I have spent time curating unique, individual boxes to help anyone looking to start junk journaling, journaling, memory planning, or decorative planning and bullet journaling but is intimidated about where to start. And these are also great for anyone looking to add some variety to their stash. The pictured box is only an example of what you might find in the boxes. There may be some duplicate items, and purchasing multiple boxes could mean you will get duplicates, as well. 

Each Large-sized box includes at least 100 pieces of junk journaling supplies, including: Scrapbook paper pieces, notebook paper pieces (brands such as Archer & Olive), magazine pieces, vellum, washi stickers, notecards, textured papers and papers of varying weights, and much more. Possibly even some full sticker sheets and journaling cards! There is also one 3×5 and one 4×6 plastic envelope, which have been filled with some of the junk journaling supplies listed. These are great for storing smaller items or taking supplies on the go. All items I’ve picked out specifically for each box to help inspire you! 

A mesh pencil bag full of some of my favorite tools completes this box. Inside, you will find one Kokoyo glue stick, one Bic pencil (pencil is great for faint lines and sketching out ideas), a Papermate Inkjoy pen in a random color, one 0.4 Zebra Sarasa MarkON pen, one pair of cross-locked tweezers, and washi-tape samples from my favorite shops. 

The Small-sized box includes all of the above, but at least 50 pieces of junk journaling papers, stickers, etc. for a cheaper option. You can also choose just the large junk journaling supplies without the mesh bag and tools. Best price is the full, large box!

Examples of journal spreads I’ve created are in the item listing pictures. Check out my planner IG account to see more examples. @meganbplansitall 

I am open to custom requests if there is an aesthetic or color palette you’ve been inspired by! 

Please note I am one person and paper is delicate. While care is taken with each and every box, there could be some unintended creases and some loose stickers.”

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