There are as many types and ways to journal as there are people who keep them! Journaling is a way to think out loud and discover what is within, especially if you freewrite (just start writing and keep going as you empty your mind onto the page). You will find out some interesting aspects and thoughts buried deep inside you. I keep a journal (in fact, several) and here is a list of 12 journal types/journaling ideas. You can do one, or a few, or mix everything together. The important thing is to question and make discoveries through your writing.
How do I know what I think until I see what I say?
Journaling Ideas – Morning Pages/Daily Journal/Memory Journal
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests writing your journal first thing in the morning—every morning—when your mind is fresh and clear from daily clutter. Or, you can write at night and use a journal as a way to ruminate and think through what happened in your life during that day. Whatever works best for you.
I take a photo (now easy with digital cameras and the ability to print instantly) and paste it into my journal and write about it. I have over seven years of these types of journals, and it’s really fun to go back through my life and see what was important (in a small, daily way) at that time. I started seeing meaning in everyday pieces of my life. From a writing standpoint, I learned so much about metaphors, objects, and subtext by discovering the meaning behind what seemed mundane. A picture and a thousand words!
Journaling Ideas – Creative Journal
Do you like to write poetry, stories, song lyrics, or do you draw, paint, or sketch? This type of journal is a wonderful way to connect to the artist/writer within you.
Journaling Ideas – Artist Journals
Do you have a hobby or art that feeds your soul? Why not write about it? You can brainstorm ideas, cut out snippets of articles or things you want to work on, plan on how to begin, and once you start, chronicle your artistic journey. Added bonus, when you get a good entry, you can write an article and submit it to a specific crafting magazine or website.
Journaling Ideas – Garden Journal
You can keep track and take photos of what you plant and what works well, but also go to the next level and write about what you feel and think as you work with the earth, and what gardening means to you. Write the details of your gardening experience. Again, plenty of places to submit essays and articles, and your gardening journal can be your beginning.
Journaling Ideas – Gratitude/Manifestation Journal
This is a journal where you can explore what you want out of life and acknowledge what gifts surround you. What can be wrong with focusing on the good things in your life? Begin to make lists of your dreams what you desire or want to have happen in your life. Use each idea as a header and imagine your life with that change. Want to start a business? Put that at the top and write out what kind, why, what that sort of lifestyle will mean to you. Make plans and plot how to make your dreams a reality. Do you want to win the lottery? What would you do with the money and why? Your entries can be fun and frivolous or meaningful and rife with plans. Mix your moods. It’s your journal, so write about anything you want or are grateful for and why.
Journaling Ideas – Dream Journal
Ever have an intense dream you were sure had meaning? Or a nightmare, especially one that recurs? Journaling about your dreams is a wonderful way to get in touch with the part of you that quietly exists beneath your surface. There are many books on interpreting your dreams, and sometimes they can help you uncover thoughts you didn’t realize were within you. Begin by telling yourself you’ll remember one detail from a dream, and keep a notepad or note cards and a pen near your bed. Then when you wake up, jot down any details you remember. At first you might not remember much (or anything at all!) but the more you write about your dreams, the more you will start to remember. This is a good journal to keep by the side of your bed.
Journaling Ideas – Topic Journal
Does some topic fascinate you? Do you find yourself constantly thinking or speaking about something? A good way to start this is by making a list of everything that is important to you. Saving the planet, child-rearing, rescuing animals, friendship, life in a small town, life in a big city…the possibilities are as endless as you are. And that is endless indeed. This may turn into an article, essay, or letter to the editor!
Journaling Ideas – Prayer or Spiritual Journal
Write prayers, thoughts, and questions to God (or the Universe or Goddess—this works with whatever your belief system). Write a question from your life at the top of the page and ask for answers or guidance. Copy a piece of scripture and then write about it and how the idea applies to your own, modern life.
Journaling Ideas – Tarot or Question Journal
I love tarot cards, so when I have a question and ask the cards, I write about the response in my journal. The thing I love about tarot cards is that they don’t give answers, but ask questions or present concepts and ideas to ponder. Sometimes they can break you out of your box way of thinking. Don’t have a deck of tarot cards? Just put your question at the top of the page and meditate for a few moments. Completely clear your mind. Then start writing. Don’t stop or think too hard. What you uncover may surprise you!
Journaling Ideas – Travel Journal
This is a fun one, even if your travel is close to home. Wherever you go, a travel journal is a great way to keep the details of your trip alive for years to come! Document not only where you go, but your observations and thoughts about your trip. Another opportunity to write something to send to a magazine or website focusing on travel.
Journaling Ideas – Writing/Story Journal
I have character voice and interview entries in my writing journal, maps of fictional places, ideas, inspirations, notes on research, etc. This journal is also where I practice my process by doing writing prompts. It’s the perfect place to do fiction thinking out loud.
Journaling Ideas – Reading/Book Journal
Do you love to read? Keep track of the books you read and use your journal to talk about what you thought of them, how and what about the book moved you, what you liked, didn’t like. Have a book club with yourself!
No matter what your interests or focus, journaling is a wonderful tool to keep the words flowing.
Award-winning novelist Kathy Steffen teaches fiction writing and speaks at writing programs across the country. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, Between the Lines. Her books, FIRST THERE IS A RIVER, JASPER MOUNTAIN and THEATER OF ILLUSION are available online and at bookstores everywhere. Check out more at www.kathysteffen.com