Various Types of Journals and Their Use

Various Types of Journals and Their Use

written by: Mrs. Vicki Taylor
by: Mrs. Vicki Taylor
Woman with journal Woman with journal

Most people growing up kept a "diary" of some sort.

As time has gone by, more journal (diary) types have been created. Each separated by subject, feeling, emotion, or life options. I am going to list as many journal types as I was able to find, with a brief description on how to post in it or use it. If you know of a journal type I missed, please let me know. I'd like to continue to add to the list. It'll make a great resource.

AS A NOTE: Some journals might be listed more than once. I am attempting consolidate their descriptions so that it gives you more information about each journal. Please forgive me if I skip one or two. Prayer Journal – Journal a prayer a day. Your prayer, a friend's, the prayer from the paper, etc. Good Thoughts Journal – Journal at least one good thought each day. Books/Movies Journal – Journal the books you have read or the movies you have seen. What were your experiences? Who suggested the book or movie? Who did you see the movie with? Couples Journal – Take time every day to write something to each other. Journal about each other, an experience of the day, a dream for the future, even an, "I'm sorry." Friendship Journal – Journal your experiences and feelings about the lunch you just had with a friend, your visit with your sister, what you are looking forward to with a co-worker and the new work project. Birthday Journal – Have your friends pick a date and journal why they picked that date, and ask them to retell a funny story, journal how you met, or say why they care for you as they do. Recipe Journal – Journal past and present recipes. Include where you got the recipe, where and when you served it, who was there, and what they thought. You can keep a journal for salads, dinners, and a third for desserts. Sports Journal – Journal your experiences with your favorite team. Health Journal – Journal how you feel physically and what you are going through health wise. Diet/Exercise Journal – Journal what you eat, and your current times, distances, repetitions, weights, and other capabilities, tracking your progress. Finance Journal – Daily you can journal all expenses, certain expenses, or have a place to keep this journal for family or employees to enter their expenses. You can also use this journal idea to track your present financial situation, or reflect on what you want to change or keep the same. Collection/Hobby Journal – Journal your experiences and feelings about what you collect or your hobby, your stamps, coins, furniture, scrapbooking, dolls, etc. Besides journaling about the actual collection, you can record your feelings, what you saw, what you heard, who you met. Focus Journal – Journal what you want to focus on tomorrow, or what you did focus on today. Joke Journal – Journal a joke a day. Make one up or record a good one that you heard. Time capsule This is a record of events that are important to you, for instance news or sports stories. You could simply keep newspaper cuttings or you could add your thoughts and comments on the headlines. I kept one of these at school which covers the first Iraq war and my sister kept one of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. It does not need to be national events, it could be more local events, for instance connected to your local town, school or sports club. Specific topic You many want to follow your progress on a specific topic, such as your exercise habits, children or career. You may find it useful to start these entries using a template so you can easily track progress over the year, such as exercise undertaken, weight. These journals do not need to be limited to one topic, for instance Ira Progoff encourages writing on different topics and filing each topic within different sections in a folder rather than chronologically. Dreams A dream journal should be written every morning as soon as you wake up to capture as many details of the dream as possible, the longer you leave it after waking the fewer details you can remember. You could just capture the dreams or you may want to analyse them using a dream dictionary , or just looking at the imagery yourself and suggesting meanings; it is often easier to do this a few days after having the dream. It is good to give each dream a title and keep an index of them so you can review them later, perhaps monthly, and notice any patterns. Travel journal - Keeping a journal of holidays you take means after the event you have more than just photographs as a record. It is good to keep specific details of where you have stayed and where you have gone, for instance instead of saying we went to the beach say which beach, so at a later date you can recreate the holiday or can make recommendations to friends. It is great to use a travel journal in a similar way to a scrapbook, sticking in additional information such as postcards, brochures and tickets of where you have been. A travel journal can be particularly nice if you are going on a special holiday, e.g. honeymoon, you do not travel very often or if you are expecting to learn a lot while travelling such as on a gap year. Many people are now keeping blogs when they travel as a way of sharing their experiences with their friends and family, but they are still a journal as they keep a record of what you see and do. Reading journal For people who like reading it can be useful to keep a reading journal, and it may be worth considering buying a preprinted book although it is easy enough to create your own. A reading journal enables you keep to a record of all aspects of your reading, such as the books in your inventory, the books you want to buy, which books you've read and what you thought of them. You can do a lot of this online these days with websites such as Goodreads and Librarything and you can keep a log of the books you read or your reviews online as I used to do on this blog. Specific time frame Something unusual may be happening that you want to keep a record of, for instance you are pregnant, planning your wedding, building your own house. These are things that are not part of your usual life and that you may want to look back on in the future. You could keep a simple journal of photographs and lists, or you could also write about your thoughts and experiences as you experience the changes. Corrie Haffly has a very good example of a pregnancy journal. Gratitude journal Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up with the little things in our lives that we forget all the good things. A gratitude journal helps to focus your thoughts on the what is good in your life. There are many different forms this could take, for instance, a small notebook that you carry with you and write an entry whenever you realise you are grateful for something, or a list of 10 things you were grateful for during the day. By focusing on the happy things your mind starts to focus more on the positive and less on the negative so you start to appreciate even more things you are grateful for. Group or family journal It could be fun and eye opening to keep a group journal. This could be done by all members of the group writing an entry about their day, or their thoughts on the same topic, or it could be done by each member of the group holding the journal for a specific time frame, such as a week and then passing it on to the next person. This is a great way of learning to understand people better and building closer relationships as people start to appreciate the differences and similarities within the group. Personal development A journal can be a good method of identifying where you can improve your life and then monitoring progress. For instance, I originally did the Wheel of Life exercise in my journal and find it a great visual way of tracking my progress. However, there are plenty of other exercises to get you thinking, some of my favourites are to list all the things I am resisting at the moment and to write a list of 25 things I wish for; both enable me to review where I want to focus my energy in the coming weeks. Project journal If you are working on a project where you are trying different methods or are continually learning you may want to keep a journal to capture all the information. This is common practice in laboratories to keep a record of the different combination of chemicals, but it can also be used for different types of projects. For instance, I could keep a log of each piece of clothing I make, did I learn a new way of adding a zip, did something go wrong that I need to solve in the future, was the material difficult to work with. This way all the information is captured in one place and you do not need to remember it. This is like your novel's bible. This is where you keep track of everything about a WIP. You write down ideas for scenes and characters. You scribble questions you have about the world you're crafting. You list the problems your character must face and the tools he'll need to conquer his demons. And this might be the journal you carry with you wherever you go. Gardening / Nature journal This is similar to the project journal above as it is a record of what occurs in the garden, but it may also include observation of the wildlife you see, such as birds and this starts incorporating aspects of a nature journal where descriptions and pictures of the nature you see are included. Years ago, I sat in a class taught by author and columnist A.E. Cannon at BYU. She talked about a lot of different kinds of journals to keep. One idea that sticks out in my memory is to record your dreams. Keep a journal near your bed and write about your interesting dreams when you wake up. But write quickly before they fade! Meditation It can be good to have a complete break between work and home so you don't carry the emotions and worries in to the home. Some people do this by exercising or meditating, but using a journal can also be effective. By writing as soon as you get home you can capture all the thoughts in your mind and remove the work mindset so you can then relax fully into your home life. Sleep Journal A sleep diary is a log of a person's time spent sleeping and waking, possibly including other information, usually done over a period of many weeks. Generally, sleep diaries are kept by a patient, having been given by a doctor, psychologist, counselor, etc. Ideally, they are used for diagnosing people with a sleep disorder, like narcolepsy or insomnia. Planning As soon as you wake in the morning start writing. This will enable you to capture the thoughts in your head, particularly any worries. You could write paragraphs or just a list of every thing you want to do that day, week, month or even year. This can then be reviewed on a regular basis and used to help form plans. Audio Journal Audio journals utilize spoken words, not written words. Many people use tape recorders or voice recorders to talk about parts of their lives that are most fascinating, with each event progressing to the current situation. Creativity A creative journal could just be a collection of ideas, observation, sketches, magazine clippings that could be used to inspire creative work such as paintings, stories. Or it could be a process of developing your creativity by completing a course such as Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way Workbook. Quick journal Sometimes the thought of keeping a journal can be exciting, but also daunting. If you are keen to keep a record, don't let the commitment put you off, Gretchin Ruben keeps a one sentence diary where she aims to write just one sentence each day. But if that seems too much Kathleen Adams in her book Journal to the Self suggests keeping an adjective journal where at the end of the day you write down one adjective to describe the day and one adjective to describe how you want tomorrow to be. There are 10 types of Spiritual Journals

Letter Journal – After you've written a letter, make a copy and keep it in its own file or binder.

Memory/Memoir Journal – Think back, and journal one memory a day.

Spiritual Journals

Some I've listed before and can be used in conjunction with Spirituality, or be used on their own. Research Journal Are you doing research about New Orleans or giant squids? Make sure you jot down the interesting info you find in one place. Poetry Journal Do you want to get better at writing poetry? Try writing a poem a day in this journal. Lessons Learned Journal I like to keep track of the books I've read. I also like to jot down the lessons I've learned from them. Whether it's about how the author created an interesting character or how they made me want to stay up until three in the morning reading. Morning Pages I love this idea from Julia Cameron, author of The Artisty's Way. Write three pages every morning. The worlds can be anything you want. Write about the laundry you need to wash. Write about your wishes and fears. Write about the things you wish you could say but don't. Write about anything and everything. Just get it all out of you. The idea is that once you do this it will be easier to move on and write about what you really want to. Juncture Journal Do you ever read a book and there is a moment in the story that makes you want to stand up in cheer? Like, literally, jump to your feet and applaud the master fingers of the writer who crafted such a scene? Yeah, I like to keep track of those moments in my Juncture Journal. Moments like when the fairies grow bigger and jump into the battle in the first Fablehaven book by Brandon Mull or when Uncle Paton, who is a power booster, comes to Bloor Academy and makes all the lights and windows explode because they won't let Charlie go in the Charlie Bone books. I like to write about these moments and why they made me want to leap to my feet. And then I like to figure out how I can do something that causes the same reaction in my WIP. Worldbuilding Journal Creating a new world? Write everything about it in this journal; the magic system rules, information about the fauna and flora and the world's history. Brainstorming Journal I'm better at turning off my internal editor if I label something as brainstorming. Somehow, just telling myself that whatever I'm writing doesn't really matter, that it's just for kicks, makes it easier for me to write crazy ideas down. Maybe I'm trying to figure out how my characters solve a problem. Or I'm trying to come up with a unique magic system. As long as I know it's brainstorming, I let myself write down all sorts of ideas. And then I eventually find the one I want to keep. Art Journal/Visual Journal Maybe you're more of a visual person. Keep track of the pictures and drawings that help you write your story in this journal. It's kind of like scrapbooking. What I do with my Visual Journal is go through magazines, and other materials and cut out pictures, words, and phrases that resonate with me. Then, I place them in my Visual Journal page. Sometimes, the theme is so massive that I use a large display board to get as many of the images, words, and phrases displayed.

  • Automatic writing. Pages of my personal journals are dedicated to automatic writing. This is a technique where you can ask a question of your spirit guides, angels or higher self, then have their answer channelled through you and on to the page. With practice, this type of journalling can reveal to you great insights about your life, path and lessons as they are occuring, or before. Check out this post on how to try automatic writing.
  • Intuitive. Recording all your hunches, feelings and suspicions about what's happening in your life is a great way to build confidence. Make sure you date them and include what's happening and how you feel about it, so you can 'measure' your progress. Dot points work fine.
  • Personal growth and development. After journalling as a child (typically recording things like "My new friend said this..." or "Today I played at so-and-so's house"), I put it aside for many years, and only returned to it in 2001 after my aunt passed away. Journalling became a form of therapy for me, a way of processing not only my grief, but the first major introductions I had to mediumship after she passed. Simple free form writing, being unashamedly open with your thoughts and feelings is a very carthartic process.
  • Dream. If I remember my dreams, I record them. As much detail as possible is jotted down – the themes and symbols of the dream, as well as their meaning and interpretations. While this can lead to immediate insight into what's occurring in my life in real time, upon later reflection, many of these dreams have also been predictive. I would have forgotten if it wasn't jotted down.
  • Creative writing. Surprisingly, many little ditties and poems have formed in the pages of my journals. In the past, I've used beautiful and inspiring pictures as inspiration for some creative writing – short stories, imaginative make believe lives for the people/places in the images I'm drawn to. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are great for choosing pics to work from.
  • Gratitude. I also took this up not long after my aunt died. That period in my life was quite low, and I found turning my thoughts to gratitude helped significantly. I challenged myself to writing just 5 dot points each day into the journal, listing down five simple things I was grateful for. Before long, I spent my day looking for things to be grateful for, so I would have plenty for that night's entry. My mindset changed dramatically.
  • Intentions, goals and affirmations. Writing down your goals is powerful in itself, but coupling this with setting the energy or intention behind those goals, and creating positive affirmations to manifest the change is a powerful practice. Repeating affirmations often is vital – I often rewrite the affiramtions, over and over, for effect.
  • Family / relationships. My relationships and friendships have naturally turned up in my journals in some form or another. Most recently, I've dedicated time and practice to recording my thoughts, feelings and insights into pregnancy and motherhood. But you can do this for any kind of relationship. Many people keep scrapbooks of their baby's milestones, which I actually didn't, but it is a beautiful keepsake later I'm sure.
  • Visual / creative. In highschool art class we had to keep a visual diary and although I don't consider myself highly artistic, I did always love this 'homework'. Visual or creative diaries come up a lot in readings – I'm often recommending to more artistic folk to keep swatches, postcards, fabrics and textures collated in some kind of visual binder. Over the past few weeks this has come up time and time again from Chris... but I'm yet to explore this further.
  • Meditation. No matter the kind of meditation, there is always something to gain from it. Jotting down your impressions after a meditation is useful for growth. For me, this often includes some form of energetic release or clearing, or some clairvoyant image being revealed.

Here are a list of creative writing related journals

Idea Journal Fill this journal with every grand book, character, setting, plot idea you have. Even if it's just a vague concept, write it down! Maybe it's only a tiny inkling, that's fine. Keep it! When you start doing this, sometimes, something absolutely amazing happens. You discover that if you smoosh together idea number 3 and idea number 17 and idea number 42 together, batta-bing, have all you need for your next book idea! And remember, the best way to find ideas is to actively chase them. Don't just wait for them to appear.

Want to learn more about keeping an art journal? Check it out here.

Workshop Journal I like to take the same journal with me to writing conferences and workshops. Then I write down writing advice and tips from the speakers. I keep track of books they mention that they love. And I jot down inspiration for my own work as it comes. Project Journal This is like your novel's bible. This is where you keep track of everything about a WIP. You write down ideas for scenes and characters. You scribble questions you have about the world you're crafting. You list the problems your character must face and the tools he'll need to conquer his demons. And this might be the journal you carry with you wherever you go.

The following list contains suggestions for journal types or sections in your journals. They can also be used as prompts to create an entry in your journal.

The following list contains suggestions for journal types or sections in your journals. They can also be used as prompts to create an entry in your journal.

  • accomplishments
  • events, chaos
  • hobbies
  • books read or reviewed
  • exercises (physical and mental)
  • food eaten
  • money earned, spent, saved
  • time
  • weight
  • travel
  • appreciation, gratitude
  • aspirations, wants, hopes
  • blocks
  • career/work insights
  • decisions to make
  • dreams
  • energy
  • fears
  • feelings and emotions
  • peak experiences
  • people met
  • problems to solve
  • projects
  • relationships
  • sleep quality
  • tensions
  • threats and vulnerabilities
  • worst experiences
  • being conscious
  • beliefs
  • courage and risks
  • goals
  • health or energy level (rate 1 to 10)
  • nature
  • opportunities
  • positive/negative thinking
  • synchronicities
  • ideas, creativity
  • insights
  • inspiration
  • intuitive hunches
  • motives
  • questions
  • stillness, regeneration
  • learnings and lessons
  • meaning
  • meditation
  • purpose
  • service, giving
  • sources of joy
  • spirituality

And finally, from Higher Awareness, a comprehensive list of journaling tools (ideas, prompts, journal types and more.) Re-Treat Yourself Processes Re-Treat Yourself to a periodic review and use appropriate Journaling Tools, Ideas and Topics Weekly Re-Treat Yourself Process – Focus on goals, balance and peace of mind. Monthly Re-Treat Yourself Process – Focus on rejuvenation and staying on purpose. Quarterly/Yearly Re-Treat Yourself Process – Precious solitude to relax and reconnect with your big picture. Daily Tracker - Measure what is important to you. Confirm your progress. Stepping Stones – Life History Log - Create a meaningful life history log. The Review/Summary - Sift the wheat from the chaff. The Pause - Step back and allow integration to work for you. Regular Check-ups - Stay aware of the aspects of our lives that matter most. List Making - Watch how your mind works. Expand your creativity. Radar Trap - Catch yourself in the act. Enhance your awareness. Smart Questions - Allow questions to draw out your own inner wisdom. Unsent Release Letter - A very healing way to let go of the past. Feeling Finder - Add more dimensions to your feeling nature. Captured Moments - Re-experience the depths of peak events. Time Capsule - Capture the past, present and future. Character Sketch - Experience someone more deeply. One Word Essence Journaling - No time to journal? Write just one word. Headlining - Use creative 7 word headlines to capture the day. Creed - Make a declaration about what you want, who you are, where you are going. Perspectives - See things differently. Three Perspectives Journaling - Journal writing from 3 perspectives. Allow Alliteration - Identify infinite important informative ideas. Rhyme Time - Find and unwind your kind mind. Alpha Poems - 26 quick creativity stimulators. Stream of Awareness - What am I experiencing, feeling, and thinking? Dyad - Another powerful way to express your depths. Intuitive Resonating - Give a voice to your unconscious. Metaphors - Explore different ways to say the same thing. Modelling - Often the indirect route is the best route. 5 Wise Whys - How to go deeper to find the truth. Duality Tension - Let your mind stretch and integrate two extremes. Artwork - Allow your inner artist to share its wisdom. Top down, bottom up connections – Ground the abstract and find purpose and meaning in the details. Where am I in the movement of ...? - Gain new perspectives on changes in your life. Life Pyramid - Connect the higher mind and concepts with the lower mind. Dialogue - Converse with whoever and whatever you want. Life Question - What question can you ask yourself that will inspire, empower and energize you? Prose and Poetry - Let the beauty and rhythm of words share their feelings. Dream Journal - Capture your night-time dreams. Meditation Journal - Meditation opens us to more connection, insights and harmony. Stream of Consciousness - Awaken your awareness.

Any time micro Re-Treat Yourself Process – Reap the benefits of awareness pauses. Daily mini Re-Treat Yourself Process – Make the most starting and reviewing every day.

The tools below are presented in order from left brain, logical tools to right brain, intuitive tools.

Tools for managing and tracking your journaling process:

Hot List - Keep handy your list of most important topics for journaling. Dream Calendar - Put your ideal day, week and year on one page.

Tools that focus intention and create awareness:

Blank Page Journaling - Empty the mind by filling a page. Sentence Stubs - Complete the sentence....

Tools for making inner connections:

Mind Mapping - Watch your brain work graphically. Lateral Thinking - The fastest way to develop creativity.

Tools for developing the imagination and consciousness:

Evolving Essences - A new way to set goals using essences and intentions. Gratitude Journal - An affirmation of ownership, responsibility, and appreciation.

I know I've given you a lot to think about and process. That's why there are so many choices. It gives you the opportunity to discover the right journal(s) for you.

Just to add a little more for you to research and determine what's best for you, here is a list of a plethora of journal writing software:

life journal

i*write 3.2

Net time diary

The journal

Simply Journal

Alpha journal

Reflective journal

Forever journal 2.0

Ultra Recall this is much more than journal software, but it has a journal add-on

Star message diary

Dear Diary

E Diary Gold

1st Journal

All in one journal

Effective journal

Diary defender

Mondo! E journal I can't access developers site, but there is a good review here. It is still possible to buy it from download sites

Diary One

My personal diary

Smart Diary Suite this appears to be underdevelopment so there is no information on the developers website, but there is a review at

i daily diary

Diary studio the developers are no longer supporting this software, but it can still be download from other websites

Its personal

Active diary I can't find a developers website, but you can download it from

Advanced Diary

As for me, good ol' paper journals and pen or pencil are my go-to's when it comes to journaling. It seems when I'm writing a book, I do my best work on my laptop. However, when it comes to journaling, I must go back to the "stone-age" and use pen and paper. Somehow, this makes the writing more intimate and I can express my emotions and feelings with much more depth.

How many journals do I have?

I think I keep about 10 or so journals, not counting my blogs.

If you have any questions about the journaling process or if I didn't discover a type of journal you'd like to use, please let me know. Contact me.

Happy Journaling!