50 Things To Do With A Journal

quick update:

Hello, everyone! I have two quick updates about my blog:

  1. As some of you may have noticed, I have a new URL! My blog can now be found at https://vivianparkinderosa.com/.
  2.  For those of you who read my last post, you’ve already seen this, but for any new visitors, please check out my survey! (It’s only one question, so it should take less than a minute to answer!) Now that summer is close, I will have much more time to blog, so I’d love to hear what posts you’d most enjoy. If you’d like to see a post that’s not on the survey, go ahead and tell in the comments below!

All right, onto the blog post!

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I love journals like Arthur Weasley loves rubber ducks. They’re just so perfect, with their pretty covers and blank pages. They’re empty books, just waiting for you to write in them. Sure, sometimes I get beautiful-cover-paralysis, where I get intimidated that anything I write won’t be good enough to match the journal’s exterior, but I usually snap out of it and start journaling anyways. It’s a great system: I get a journal, I find something to do with it, and I start writing.

There’s just one problem. I now own over 50 empty journals. 

Yes, I know, that’s excessive and crazy. (To continue the Weasley simile, every time I look at my stack of notebooks I feel like Molly Weasley has just sent me a Howler.) How did I get so many journals, you ask? There are two reasons. Let me explain:

  1. I never throw anything away. So that horse diary I got in third grade, with the lock and sparkles on every page? I didn’t write in it at the time, because I had another journal, but I still kept it. And so I still own it now. And it’s still empty. Whoops.
  2. People give me journals as presents. Why? Because I’m a writer, and my family and friends, being the kind people they are, decide to get me something useful for my literary endeavors. Also, because I asked for them. Whoops again.

Luckily, I am a girl of many ideas. (Though not all of them are good ideas, @that-one-time-I-decided-to-write-50,000-words-in-one-month. Looking at you, NANOWRIMO.) I’ve compiled a list of 50 things you can do with an empty journal, sorted into ideas for writers, ideas for book bloggers, and ideas for everyone! 

(Journals with a * are my favorite types of journals to keep!)

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1. 5 Senses

Keep a journal about what you saw, heard, tasted, smelled, and touched each day. This can help as a description and setting warmup  for your writing.

2. Observations Journal *

This is my favorite kind of journal, and in my opinion, one of the most important tools a writer can have. In this journal, write down small anecdotes about your day, the weird name your co-worker has, and what ads are in the placemat at your local diner. Save everything ordinary and extraordinary in this notebook, and refer back to it often.

3. Brainstorm

You know how sometimes you just have to talk something out? Try writing it out. I’ve used brainstorming journals to try to figure out why a scene isn’t working, to jot down ideas for character names, and more. Use it as a free space!

4. Anecdotes and Stories

When I get home from a dinner party, I try to write down most of the stories that people told me. I’m also guilting of writing down stories from the Dear Prudence column. People’s stories can provide inspiration for scenes and plot points later on.

5. Words Journal

Write down your favorite words, words you made up, words you hate, and words you find particularly interesting.

6. Character Doodles

Draw your characters!

7. Plotting Journal

UUUGGGHHHH IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE ME THIS WILL TAKE UP AN ENTIRE JOURNAL. Write down your plot, or at least try to. It’ll probably change like 49839589242 times and then you’ll have to rewrite your plot. And your book. (Can you tell I’m in the middle of rewriting my WIP after I changed the plot?)

8. Novel Journal *

Dedicate a journal to one our your novels. Write down ideas, plots, character profiles, and more. This journal keeps my organized with my various book projects.

9. Songwriting

Write down your country lyrics, rap lines, and pop choruses. If you get the sort of journal that has musical lines, you could compose music as well as write words for songs.

10. Haiku Journal

I love Haiku! Challenge yourself to write one haiku per day. Since Haiku are most commonly only seven syllables, this is a fun writing exercise to get those gears rolling.

11. Poetry Journal

Use a notebook as a place to write down all of your poems. Many poets say that writing longhand is the way they write best.

12. Short Story

Keep a journal full of short stories.

13. Free Writing

Just let the words flow! Make up any story that you wish and give yourself complete creative freedom.

14. Story Ideas *

WRITE THEM ALL DOWN SO YOU DON’T FORGET THEM. Believe me, you will forget them if you don’t write them. So write down every detail of the brilliant ideas you have for novels, poems, plays, and more.

15. Prompt

Respond to writing prompts in this journal.

16. Character Voice Practice

Sometimes, I write in a journal using only one of my character’s perspectives. I write in their voice, and respond to journal prompts as if they were writing about themselves. This is a really easy way to understand your characters better and build development.

17. Memoir

Start writing down your story, longhand.

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18. Blogging Journal

Organize blogging posts, write down ideas for posts, schedule features, and more with a blogging journal. Check out this article for more about using a journal as a book blogger.

19. Book Tracker *

I use this journal for recording how many books I read each year, what books I loved, what books I want to read next, and more!

20. Reviews

Start writing your reviews longhand in a journal.

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21. Morning Pages

Created by Julia Cameron, “Morning Pages” is a writing exercise that must be done first thing in the morning. The objective is to fill three pages each morning with a stream of consciousness. Cameron explains Morning Pages as, “They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.”

22. Daily Journal *

This is probably the most common journal that I see! Similar to Morning Pages, a Daily Journal is meant to be written in each day, though this one has no set time to do so. Most people use Daily Journals to log their days or record their feelings.

23. Handwriting Practice

Have you always wanted to master swirling calligraphy? Do you wish your letter were straighter and neater? Use a journal for practice.

24. Diary

Diaries have a bad reputation for being preteen girls’ weepy companions. I couldn’t detest that more. First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being twelve and writing down your thoughts. You’ll be happy that you did later on. Just because you are a teenager and a girl doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t valid, though a lot of people will try to tell you that they aren’t. Second of all, everyone can write a diary. It’s a place for your eyes only, where you can record your feelings and the daily rituals and triumphs of your life.

25. Lists *

Here’s a short list of lists you could include in your lists journal:

  • Grocery list
  • Goals list
  • To-Do list
  • Wish list
  • Bucket list

26. Dream Journal

I get really weird, vivid, recurring dreams, and I love talking about them. But if there’s one things I’ve learned about the world, it’s this: No one cares about your dreams. It’s enough to listen to people talking about their ACTUAL lives. Listening to people chat about how once, they had a dream where they were in a zombie apocalypse and the entire cast of Project Runway came running by begging them for shelter and they decided to only help the designer they liked best so that they’d win by default is just a little bit too much. (HA! You just listened to one of my dreams. Do you think it’s a sign that I’m secretly a selfish person? Do I have way too much invested in reality TV? Should I start sleeping on my back so that I- Boring, right?) Just write it down. You’ll get a kick out of it.

27. Goals

Track your short term and long term goals with a Goal Tracker Journal. What do you want to do, and how are you going to accomplish it?

28. Time Tracker

Because maybe writing down everything you do will finally inspire you to cut down on the time you spend playing Candy Crush.

29. Fashion

Plan outfit ideas, swatch fabric, tape in inspiration, and more with a fashion notebook. I love planning out outfits with mine.

30. Travel Journal *

I took a journal with me when I went to Italy, and it was one of the best decisions I made. I have a detailed account of how each day went, what restaurants I ate at, what Gelato flavors I tried, and how our hotel looked. Vacations are fun, but they can blur easily, so remember your foreign adventures with a journal.

31. Sketchbook

Even if you’re not an artist, drawing is a great way to relax and express yourself. (Though if you’re an artist, it might not be so relaxing. I had a non-writer tell me that writing was really relaxing for them and I straight up cackled. How can anyone be relaxed when killing off characters and stressing over their own self-worth and forgetting everything they know about grammar every time they use quotation marks?!?! HOW?!)

32. ‘Scrapbook’ Journal *

Save ticket stubs, flyers, playbills, notes, wrappers, and more in a ‘Scrapbook’ journal. Take the scraps and memorabilia of your life and stick it in a journal.

33. Recipes

Write down recipes you want to try, record your most successful creations, and make your own recipe book that you can pass down as a beloved family heirloom. Or you could type it up and sell it as an e-book on Amazon. Or both. Whatever floats your boat.

34. Beauty Routine

Because who can really remember whether you’re supposed to start with foundation or eye shadow? Write down your routine, draw new looks, swatch colors, and make a list of products you want in a notebook dedicated to beauty.

35. Quotes (Songs, Books, etc.)

Save your favorite song lyrics, book quotes, and more in a journal. Making it aesthetically appealing is optional but highly recommended.

36. Remember Notebook

It’s proven that you’re more likely to remember things when you write them down. Keep notes, save stories, and more in a notebook for remembering.

37. Safe (Passwords, secrets)

Create a safe by storing your passwords and various other semi-secret information in a small journal. (You may want to stick this journal in an actual safe, but only if you can remember the safe’s combination. Have you gathered from this post yet that I’m not very good at remembering things??)

38. Gratitude Journal

Hey, if Oprah says that it’s good, it’s good, right? Write down what your grateful for each day. It’ll make you a better, happier person. Oprah and Berkeley say so.

39. Language Practice

If you’re trying to learn a language, write only in the foreign language. The practice will help you learn it faster.

40. Planner *

Schedule out your days and plan events in the future. Right now, I’m using a Divination planner and I feel like I’m more efficient each day.

41. Inventory

How many A-line skirts do you own, again? Keep track of what you own in an inventory journal. (THEN MAYBE YOU WON’T END UP WITH OVER 50 JOURNALS.)

42. Nature

Press flowers, record the seasons, and identify plants in a nature notebook. (Emily Dickinson had one, and you can’t really go wrong when you follow Emily’s example. Other than the whole part where she cut herself off from most of society and was only famous after her death.)

43. Movies

Write down the movies you want to see, movie reviews, and lists of your all-time faves.

44. Project Journal

Much like the novel journal, when I start a big project, like re-decorating my entire room, or creating an instagram, I dedicate a journal to it. I use it to schedule, brainstorm, and stay organized.

45. Money Tracker

If you’re trying to stick to a budget, a money tracker can help you stay on top of bills and payments while keeping an eye on what you’re spending.

46. Craft

Write down some of your Pinterest ideas! Track the supplies you’ll need, the steps you’ll need to take, and what the finished product should look like.

47. Shared Notebook (Friend, Sister, Parent, Partner)

Grow closer to someone you love. Leave each other messages, respond to the same journaling prompts, and share stories with each other in your journal.

48. Gardening Planner

Okay, so just because everything I touch dies doesn’t mean the same happens to you! Record planting times, when you have to water that houseplant, and other things that people with green thumbs do.

49. Bullet Journal

If you haven’t heard of the bullet journal, you are either living under a rock or Emily Dickinson. (Get it? Because she was sort of a recluse. Even though she actually had a circle of friends and read the newspaper, so if she was alive when the bullet journal trend started, she probably would have heard of- you know what? Let’s just go back to the rock thing.) Read all about the bullet journal here.

50. Everything Journal

Why limit yourself? You could combine all of these ideas into one journal.

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Thanks for reading! Do you have any more journal suggestions? What’s your favorite kind of journal? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time, you can find me on Pinterest or Instagram.

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36 thoughts on “50 Things To Do With A Journal

  1. Lee says:

    Such a great list of things to use journals and notebooks for! I only wish I had over 50 lol I look at them every time I go to a store! I have quite a few but still need more. I’ve been writing my dreams down for a while but have yet to make an actual journal for it. Thanks For sharing✨

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May @ Forever and Everly says:

    Wow, this is just amazing! I can’t believe you put together a list of FIFTY things to do with a journal, haha! Gosh, I have a lot of journals and notebooks because I’m a #writer and all my friends/family know that, so I’ll definitely have to use some of your ideas! And don’t worry, Vivian, I get the weirdest dreams too. XD

    Liked by 1 person

  3. V.M.Sang says:

    I need to go out and buy a load of journals! I have a few, but they are mostly dedicated to my writing. I have a password one, one for research, one for plotting, a daily diary. But that’s about it.

    Thanks for this post. Some excellent ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. christine @ the story salve says:

    Wow, this list is so extensive!

    I’m one of those disorganized people where my journal is ALL the types of journals (well, not all, but a lot). I write down my thoughts, make to-do lists, and try to do the “gratitude” journal as well. Sometimes I write about my novel – especially if there’s something about it that’s bugging me. I like the idea of using separate journals, but I tend to journal so much that right now I’m using a giant spiral notebook because they’re cheap.

    Liked by 2 people

    • vivianparkinderosa says:

      I had one of those for a while! The only problem was, my handwriting was so bad I couldn’t read what I wrote, so thus, I started a handwriting journal, and it just sort of spiraled out of control after that.

      Like

  5. Ffion says:

    This was great, thanks for sharing! I’ve recently got back into journaling after a few years of not doing it, and I can’t wait to try out some of these ideas! Also, I’m so glad I’m not the only person who suffers from beautiful-cover-paralysis.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. breenysbooks says:

    This is such a wonderful and extensive list! I collect journals, so I’ll definitely use some of these ideas.

    I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

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