Journals serve a number of purposes. They provide a place to collect ideas, to store clippings of articles, photos … anything that inspires. Journals can be reference books when what is stored are notes about techniques, recipes, swatches, samples or photographs. They can be a repository of events in the life of the journalist or observations, written, drawn or photographed, of the world. If a journal is kept regularly, patterns emerge, patterns that reveal what is attractive/interesting to the journalist and patterns in the journalist him/herself.
Even though there is a trend in making journals works of art, journals do not have to be planned to end up being works of art. Setting such a goal, especially for a beginner, can be intimidating. Better to aim at exploring the process of keeping a journal, and practicing letting go of judgment and inhibitions. For inspiration, take a look at the examples at 1001 Journals, a recently developed website that appears to be growing fast. There you will find a variety of personal and collaborative journals.
Some ideas: writing (pen, pencil, typewriter, computer), calligraphy (brush, pen, ink), drawing (pastels, crayons, pencil, gel pens), painting (watercolor, acrylic, felt pens), photography (black & white, color, polaroid transfers), printing (stamps, patterns, shapes, symbols), collage (pasting, textures, photocopies), resists (oil, wax crayons).