Journaling is a great practice. It’s slow and introspective way to be present in your life, take a break from your day and look inside. Journaling practice is centuries old and the types of journals vary as much as the human needs for self-discovery. Different types of journals work for different people at different times in their life . Sometimes you can have more than one journal at a time like a food journal and a dream journal, for example to serve your needs
What journals should I keep?
The journals that you need to keep will be defined by what you are focusing your attention on right now, what you want to be mindful of and what you want to improve in your life.
If you goal is to improve your health you might find fitness and food journals helpful. If you are going after big goals in business, project and goal journals can work well for you. If you are working on your mindset, you can find meditation and gratitude journals useful.
What is creative journaling?
The creative journaling is a form of a journaling where you creatively expand your journaling practice. You go beyond just making written entries in your notebook. You let your creativity shine along with your words.
Your journal can be just art, a combination of art and words, it can be creative writing like novels and poetry, but it can also be a look into your dreams and meditations, your daily practices and even your recipes.
Creative journal is there to help you express yourself and keep your creativity alive and thriving.
How do you start a creative journal?
Decide what type of a creative journal is needed in your life right now. Decide what you will be focusing on, what you will be cultivating in your life and in which form you will be expressing it.
Once you have decided which journal(s) you will be keeping, gather the supplies you need. You will need basics like a journal, a set of pens and markers.
If you’ve decided on a journal that will be dedicated to art, go ahead and collect art supplies like paints, chalks, pencils, felt tip pens and so on. If your journal is more of a traveling type of journal, have a glue or tape handy, washi tapes and other decorative ways to attach the photos (those polaroid snaps are perfect), ticket stabs, restaurant menus and so on.
Once you have the supplies you need, decide if you are going to be journaling daily, weekly or when the inspiration strikes.
When you are starting a new journal and building a journaling habit, journaling consistently is a great idea, so if you can start by making entries, however small, on a daily basis, you will see your journaling practice grow. Decide on what you want your entries to be. The don’t have to be elaborate and complicated, start small, get used to going to your journal on a regular and grow from there.
How do you keep a creative journal?
The way you keep your creative journal depends on your journaling style, your journaling schedule, but also on the size and the type of the journal it is.
If it is a small, pocket-style sketch journal where you jot small images from the life around you with a pencil, you can keep this journal on a go, carrying it in your pocket or purse and journaling in it when the inspiration strikes.
If it’s a large, 8x10in sized art journal where you practice your water color, your journaling practice would most likely be done when you are at home, in your art space, with your paints, paint brushes, water and palette all laid out and ready to go.
Again, if it’s a poetry journal, it most likely be in a Moleskin-sized lined notebook that is easy to fit into a backpack, purse or another bag and the only other tool you use is a good pen. This kind of journal can be tended to whenever you have a quiet moment – at the library, after the class, during the lunch break or even in a bus on the way home.
Decide what type of creative journal you want to pursue, figure out what tools you need for your journal and what size of a journal you’d love to use, and it will help you determine how you keep the creative journal.
– 25 Types of Creative Journals to Try –
-1- Traditional Journal
Traditional journal is where it all begins. It’s classic a timeless, but by no means non-creative. In a traditional journal you write about your daily struggles, aspirations and dreams.
You work through your questions by writing them out and reflecting on pros and cons of possible solutions.
You write out your perfect day and what you see your future to be.
By writing out what is in your soul, you open up the floodgates of creativity and new ideas. Traditional journaling is as creative as it can be.
-2- Art Journal
If you feel like the paints, pencils or chalks are your best tools for letting your creativity show, the art journal is for you.
In the art journal, each page or a spread is a drawing, painting or a sketch. It can be done just in pencil, or full watercolor. It can be of a simple shape or of a ocean panorama in full detail.
An art journal is your own personal art gallery contained in a journal. Make sure that when you pick a notebook for this type of journal that it can handle the medium like watercolors well.
-3- Mixed Media Art Journal
Mixed Media Art journals are super fun. This is a type of an art journal where you can go really all out with your art mediums.
Where in art journal, your art pieces are created usually using one type of medium, like just pencil, or just chalk, in mixed media art journal the whole point is to mixed up all the mediums.
By combining water colors with glued on photos or stickers and added on washi tapes or lace, glitter, decoupage and so much more, you create truly unique pieces of art, expressing yourself in a truly multi-faceted way.
-4- Junk Journal
Junk Journals are a creative expression and a service to the environment at the same time. Junk journals are created by recycling materials all around you. They are made from any remnants of a daily life that are flat enough to fit into a notebook.
Junk Journals often include things like plane tickets, receipts, pretty candy wrappers, postcards, maps, hotel key envelops, movie ticket stabs and so much more.
Junk journals offer an interesting challenge of being creative using the most mundane of things. In figuring out how you can use the “junk” of life to express yourself, you imagination can really shine.
-5- Bullet Journal
Bullet Journal was initially created as an organization and productivity tool, but it grew to be so much more. Bullet journal is there to quickly record your days, including your thought and notes along with anything that is important, reflective and what helps you to be mindful in your life.
Bullet journal helps you figure out what things are important to you, how you like to express yourself, what you want to focus and what you want to leave behind.
Bullet journal can be incredibly minimal or very elaborate with things like habit trackers, project planning, monthly reflections and other systems to explore and better your life.
-6- Dream Journal
Dreams are our minds in creative mode on steroids. How often have you woken up just to think: where did this come from?
Dreams often carry a message that our subconscious mind is trying to relate to us the best we know how. But, dreams tend to dissipate as soon as we open our eye and, within an hour we have no recollection of what they were. If you want to figure out what your dreams are all about, start a dream journal where you can jot down your dreams as soon as you wake up so then later you can interpret them.
It’s also fun to look back through your dreams after a while. Dreams can also give you some starter ideas for a story or a novel.
-7- Travel Journal
Traveling is exciting. New places, new peoples, new customs, new experiences. Every time you travel, there is so much to talk about, so much to remember, so much joy to go back to. That full load of experience can also make us forget some of the things we saw and loved during our travels. And if you travel often, things can start getting mixed up with each other.
The best way to preserve your travel memories and experiences is to record them in a travel journal. One of the best known travel journals is made by Traveling Company (formerly known as Midori).
The traveling journal that they call Traveler’s Notebook or TN comes in two sizes, one regular and one passport. Both are sized perfectly to come along with you, are created to be able to fit interchangeable inserts between a sturdy leather cover with an old-world feel. You can keep on adding or refilling to your TN as you travel, creating new entries and dedicating new inserts to your new places of travel.
-8- Sketch Journal
We talked about the art journal earlier, and even though your art journal can hold pencil sketches as well, a sketch journal can be a thing completely of its own.
Dedicated to sketches only, done in pencil or a graphite, sketch journals can be your noodling space where you think over ideas for the future work, they could be a practice ground where you are sketching a miniature version of your bigger drawing, a simple collections of things you see around you, or series of something you are working on, like fall leaves, or facial features.
Sketch journals age usually on a smaller side where you can take them with you anywhere you go, or can be large, made of professional degree paper and stay home where you dedicate a block of time to site down and sketch.
-9- Gratitude Journal
I’m sure you heard a time or two about the importance of being grateful for things and people you have in your life, of saying gratitude statements or even writing them down.
From a personal experience I have to say that writing gratitude daily is amazing and does wonderful things for your state of mind. I wrote out daily gratitude statements as a part of using The Five Minute Journal (where you write 3 daily), but there were days when I needed an extra helping of good vibes and I would take my regular journal and write out 20, 30, even 50 things I was grateful for.
If you are in need of brightening up your world or gaining new perspective, start a gratitude journal. You can a prefilled journal like this one or a blank notebook that you design to arrange to your liking.
You can write 3 things daily and go up from there. First 10 or even 20 are pretty quick to write down, especially if you do it often, but once you go past 25, you have to dig really deep.
No thing is too big or too small to be grateful for. The more you keep up with the practice, the more good it will bring you.
-10- Affirmations Journal
Affirmations are positive statements reflecting your future goals and desires that are stated in a present tense, as if they have already happened. They are designed to get your subconscious believing that what you want in the future is already real and then making it go to work to figure out how to make it happen.
For example, you want to want to become a writer but right now, all you feel is fear and panic at a mere thought of telling someone you write. You create a simple affirmation like: “I am a writer” and you write it and say it (or think it) every day, multiple times a day. By doing it, you are rewiring your mind with your new belief and after a while, if someone ask you what you do, you can say “I am a writer” and not have a panic attack.
Creating this new belief also helps you when you sit down to write so you can stop doubting yourself.
Affirmations can also work for attaining tangible things like: “I live by the beach”. By building this belief, you give your mind a work to figure out how you can actually live by the beach. You begin noticing things that can lead you to finding a new job by the beach, you see a listing for a rental, you mention something to your friend and they let you know about this house they saw for sale.
-11- Reading Journal
Reading journal is a fun way of reflecting on the books you have read. It’s also a great way to keep track of your favorite ideas or quotes (for non-fiction books) or scenes (fiction). You can write down the author’s and book name, when you read it (or re-read it), what the book is generally about or what is the main theme and then detail what the most mind-blowing or heart-racing parts of the book were.
You can even have a rating system of sorts of how much you liked the book, how likely are you to recommend it to a friend and so on. You can have it as a written-only journal, or embellish it with pictures of the cover, or scenes or portraits of main heroes.
You can also write out and embellish your favorite quotes from the book and note what chapter it was in. Your reading journal can be in one of those pretty fancy notebooks with a golden edging and crushed velvet cover.
-12- Idea Journal
Ideas are fleeting little things and often, when we need one, we draw blank. If you are a type of person who has creative ideas all the time, start an Idea Journal.
Have a smaller portable journal you can carry around and flip open when the genius strikes. Then, when idea pops into your head, write it down.
You can even go as far as categorizing your ideas and have an index in front of the notebook where you keep track of pages that hold ideas of a certain type.
For example, remodeling ideas, places to go ideas, birthday party ideas, Christmas gift ideas and so on. Then, when a friend asks you to help with their big date, you have ideas galore on hand and you are an instant hero!
-13- Writing Journal
Writing journal is similar to an idea journal in that you would keep it to jot down the ideas for the writing project you are working on. It is also so much more.
- You can have pages dedicated to each of your characters, locations, world building ideas, rules of magic and so on.
- You can write out individual scenes and whole chapters when the muse visits.
- You can use it build the outline for your book or to simple work out some ideas or questions you have for your writing project.
- You can also have trackers in your journal where you can note down how many words you have written that day and how far in you are in your book.
- If a large novel is not what you are working towards, you can use your writing journal to write a collection of short stories.
- In addition to your writing, you can also have sketches of your main characters and places.
-14- Poetry Journal
Poetry can be the shortest form of writing, but also the most expressive. Have a journal where you write your poetry.
Make it something you can take on the go and write your poems when you get an idea or when you have a minute in a middle of a busy day. You can have only written poetry in your journal, or you can also add sketches of the images your poetry brings to mind. Your journal can have your poetry in it, or the poetry of the authors you admire.
You can write out their verses and create an inspired artwork around the words, in pencil, paints or collage.
You can also do it in reverse by finding an image of beautiful work of art, gluing it into your journal and then writing a poems that images evokes.
-15- Morning Pages Journal
One of the most known journaling practices around are Morning Pages. Created by Julia Cameron and described at length in her book The Artist’s Way, Morning Pages are 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing done every morning as soon as you wake up.
Three pages might seem like a lot, but the whole point of writing for that long is that your mind gets the chance to purge itself of everything that accumulated in your head while you were asleep and then it can move on creative thought, laying a path for your imagination.
Morning pages have to be done longhand, pen to paper. As attractive as typing on a computer can be, connecting your mind to your body by writing by hand is what does the trick in this amazing practice.
You can use the most inexpensive journal for this practice as your writing is not meant to be read.
-16- Five Minute Journal
The Five Minute Journal is an excellent example how small steps can lead to great results. It’s also a proof that you can have a daily journal practice even when you only have a few minutes a day.
The Five Minute Journal is a pre-filled journal where each daily page is split into a morning and evening sections and each section takes a couple minutes in the morning and couple minutes at night to fill out. It’s a perfect tool to get you to journal when you either intimidated by a blank page and don’t know where to start or you don’t have the time to carry an extensive journaling practice but you want to have journaling in your life.
I got this journal when I was working through a tough in my life and heard that journal practice could really help. I wanted to journal, but had no idea how or discipline to start. The Five Minute Journal was the answer.
Filled with inspiring quotes and supportive messages, it has a prefilled format where every morning you state few affirmations, write things you are grateful for and things you want to achieve that day.
Every evening you write a few good things that happened that day and what things you will do better. It’s so simple, but genius at the same time. It helps you start your day on a good note and close the day with a sense of accomplishment.
-17- Fitness Journal
Every year we begin with a promise to move more and every February we forget to follow through. Writing things down, staying with your routine and especially keeping track of it in writing give you that visual reminder and daily reinforcement. Nothing inspires you more as the list of how far you have come.
Start a fitness journal where you write out your goals, you plan for those goals and creating trackers to check off every time you’ve done something to achieve them. The fitness journal doesn’t have to be dry either.
You can do daily or weekly reflections on how you feel before and after, the ideas that pop into your head when you are out jogging, the revelations about yourself when you crossed a milestone you thought you never would.
Write out your motivations, your Why for why you are doing what you are doing, dream aloud and in writing of how you will feel and what special thing you will do when you achieve what you working towards.
-18- Sleep Journal
Sleep is a very important part of our life. It’s also often ignored and treated like an impediment in our lives. And it’s too bad, since we can’t function without good sleep, we are not fully actualized human beings when we trudge through our days half-asleep.
If you feel or know that you sleep needs some love and attention, create a sleep journal. Note daily when you went to sleep and when you woke up. Note the quality of your sleep and how you felt when you woke up.
Also note if you felt tired later in the day. If you had a really good sleep, write down why you think it was so, what you did differently that evening, what ate or drank, or watched on TV that could have helped.
If you had a poor night of sleep, do the same. Note your eating, drinking, information consuming habits that can be affecting your zzzs. Think about your day and what situations or poor choices could have affected your sleep. Try different routines, track them and see if they help.
-19- Project Journal
A project is like a house – it needs a good plan to work. It needs planning, tending, analyzing, loving and all that good stuff. Plus, going through all the little details and seeing them fall into place is just fun.
It is a good idea to start a journal for any big project you have in mind. You can also have a journal if you have a constant stream of smaller projects.
In your project journal you can place where you can write out your ideas for a project, you can have pages to brain dump all the steps and supplies the project will need, pages where you organize these steps in order, figure out your timeline for each step and for when the project will be completed.
Add to that trackers for tasks, lists of people and companies you need to do parts of the project, suppliers and so on.
You project journal can also hold best practices discovered by you during the process, lessons learned, recommended resources and so on. At the end of the project when it’s complete and you have the results on your hands, you can do a reflection on the overall process.
-20- Goal Journal
I’m sure you have heard that writing the goals down increases the chance of achieving them. But writing them down once is not the way to make them happen.
Stating your goals, breaking them down into timelines and smaller, doable steps, figuring out things you need to do to achieve those steps, checking off things down, all of these techniques are great things to do when working towards you goal.
And what is better than having a goal journal where you can keep all of this in one place, taking with you on the go, reviewing them on a regular basis, making updates and seeing yourself getting closer to that coveted goal of yours.
Goal journals are also great as a review tool – looking into older goal journals you can get a sense of accomplishment, see how far you have come, learn from your mistakes and successes, pick out successful tactics that helped you in the past.
-21- Meditation Journal
Meditation is beneficial for our health, mind, body and soul. Over and over you read and hear about what an amazing daily habit it is. But… it’s so darn hard to start and keep with it! Part of the difficulty is that changes that it brings are so subtle that at first you wonder what is the point of it, just sitting there with your eyes closed trying not to go down the rabbit hole of your mind.
What can help with developing a meditation practice is a meditation journal.
You can start it off by writing down what you are trying to achieve by meditation daily. If that is too big of a question to start, you can begin by simply noting down how many minutes a day to plan to meditate. You can start with just 5, or even 1.
Then, create a meditation tracker, a simple box with dates at the top and Morning or Night (or both) on the left. Then, every time you sit down to meditate, mark it with an X. At the beginning, just try to keep the string of Xs going for as long as possible, or at least have as many filled in for the week, then for the month as possible.
These trackers will be your accountability tool, but also a source for inspiration as you filled them in more and more. Once you got the hang of meditating more-less regularly and marking down your trackers, you can start making entries after or before each meditation session.
Write down what you are hoping this session will bring, or what ideas, thoughts, clarity you received during the session. You can note down things like the length of the session, how easy or hard it was to get into the zone that time, what helped you (incents, music, silence, guidance, etc). Use your journal every time and start noticing the changes in your practices and yourself.
-22- One line a day Journal
If you’ve been trying to journal daily but it seems really overwhelming or you feel that you don’t have lots to say, you should totally consider a One Line a Day Journal.
Just like what it sounds, all you need to do to journal is to write just one like for each day. These types of journals are already prefilled for you with space and date for each day in the month.
Just crack it open to the correct day and write one line. Another awesome thing is that since there is only one line per day, these journals are able to fit 5 years into each passport sized journal.
The years arranged in a way where each same date of each year end up on the same page so as you fill out the journal for several years, you can see what your thoughts were that same day the year prior and the year before that one.
-23- Vision/Future Journal
I don’t know about you but I love daydreaming, sitting down and really thinking about things I want to happen in my life and how cool it would be once they did. Places I would go, experiences I would have, people I would meet and projects I would bring into life.
And you know what makes all of these things feel closer to reality? Writing them down. When something hits the paper, it feels that much more real.
There is even a journaling practice called future journaling where you journal about what you want in your future but writing it down in a present tense as if it’s already here. It’s kind of writing a novel about yourself, of how your life is going in the future where you achieved all you set out to do.
Your entry about your dream house can sound something like: “I love waking up in my beach house. As soon as I open my eyes I can see the sparkles from the water dancing on the ceiling and I hear the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. I stretch and jump out of my bed, my soft cotton sheets not wanting to let me go. I step on the balcony and sweep the scenery before me with my still sleepy eyes. As always, it is breathtaking and I feel so blessed.”
By writing about your “life” every day you make it feel real and normalized to your mind which in turn begins to believe it and looks for ways to make it come true.
-24- Gardening Journal
Gardening journals are so much fun! They are like project and goal and sketch and art journal put together.
Your gardening journal can hold the plan and the layout for your gardening patch, the list of measurement, all the supplies and the costs of putting the garden together.
Once the base of the garden is in place, your gardening journals can hold the info about which seeds/plants were planted in which spot and when. Then you can keep notes on how long it had taken for each plant to sprout, which tricks you used to help them grow, protect them from insects and other pests, which plant did better with which soil, etc.
Then, you gardening journal can hold the sketches of your plants as they sprout and grow. You can also do a full-on art of your plants using watercolors or pastels. You can also save some of the leaves or flowers, flat-dry them and tape them into your journal. Imagine how great your journal could smell if you save a lavender, mint or basil between its pages?
Once your plants deliver fruit, you can sketch it as well, write down how much fruit you ended up growing and what dishes you made with them. And the best part? You can use all these useful records for the next season when you are planting again to decide what plants you want to grow again and which to replace with something new.
-25- Money / Budget Journal
Budgeting might not seem like a creative endeavor but figuring out how to manage and save money can be quite creative, trust me.
If you have money goals, be it to pay off debts and become debt-free, or save up money for a dream vacation or a down payment for a house, having a journal can help you with figuring out your goal and different ways of achieving it.
Your journal can have brainstorming pages for different ways to save money or make extra cash, trackers to mark your progress every week or month, it can have your bucket list or ideal house written out, your money mindset affirmations or lists of money management books.
You can use your journal to create and track your monthly budget, watch your money habits and write your monthly reflections on what you have learned from managing your spending trends.
Journals can offer a wide variety of expressing yourself in creative ways. From art to poetry to sketching, to journaling 3 pages, a page, a line every day, to writing out your future into reality to envisioning your goals and working to achieve them, journals give you a place and tools to express and discover yourself.
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