A few weeks ago I wrote about why I journal. Then I told you I’d share with you some famous journalers. And then life happened. I got busy planning and packing for our trip to California. I was still journaling, and thinking about how to share with you some different types of journals, but I just didn’t have the time I needed to thoughtfully and thoroughly prepare a post about it all.
Later this week, I will deliver a post where I’ll share with you some fabulous famous journalers, but in the meantime, since I’ve had a lot of questions about how to get started, I wanted to share a few different types of journals. My hope is that one of them might pique your interest and get you started on the life-transforming road of keeping a journal.
“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation,
is not only life-changing but life expanding.”
Jennifer Williamson
Williamson, author of the blog Healing Brave, has written several posts about journaling. In her post, How to Keep a Journal + The One Rule I Follow, she gives some tips on getting started. Her most important suggestion? Be yourself.
Of course, she is talking about a traditional pen and notebook type of blog. This is the type I write in, but there are many variations. I started thinking about the different types of journals this week, as I wrote in my “trip journal,” recording all of the adventures we had in California. I have had several trip journals throughout the years, and not only do they help me document all the important events from our trips, they also help me with the captions when I am making picture albums that tell the story of our trips.
Below, I have prepared a list of five types of journals. As Jennifer Williamson so eloquently points out, “When it comes to journaling, you can’t go wrong. What a relief to have something in life that can’t be wrong…” If you want to start journaling, just get started! But if you need something to help jumpstart your practice, here are a few types. Which one sounds do-able to you?

Journal Prompts–This is probably the best way to get started if you’re new to journaling. Just google “journal prompts” and you’ll have a myriad of sentence starters with which to work. I linked to one that offers 30 days of prompts. Just write the prompt on the top line of a clean page in your notebook and write away. If you want to write more than just a sentence or two, you may be interested in the 5-Minute Journal…
5-Minute Journal–I’ve recently been hearing about these journals and I think if you are a person who feels like you just don’t have time to add one more thing to your already hectic schedule, this might be the one for you. I also really like how this journal suggests journaling in the morning and at night. One reviewer mentioned she found herself looking for the positive experiences in each day, so that she could record them at night. I almost ordered this one…almost. I am still a plain piece of paper and pen kind of gal. Speaking of…
Blank Notebook and Pen–This is the type of journal I have kept off and on throughout my entire life. Author Tim Ferris says this about his journal, “Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems. They simply need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull. Could bitching and moaning on paper for five minutes each morning change your life? As crazy as it might seem, I believe the answer is yes.” And I quite agree. I am always amazed when I look back through old journals to see how I was feeling or what was going on in an earlier period of my life. I kept extensive notes throughout each of my three pregnancies, and what’s really funny is to look back on what I thought motherhood would be like before I had our very first baby. Whew, was I naive. In more ways than one. 🙂 But it is amazing to see how I have evolved as a mother, a wife, a friend, and a writer throughout my journey of journaling. This practice of dumping my thoughts on paper, to process my feelings and record life is one many of my writer friends also employ. I love my friend Kelly’s take on this type of journal…
Thought Downloads–This type of journal writing was created by my good friend, Kelly McCormick, who blogs at kellyhanlinmccormick.com. She also has a podcast called The Transforming Anxiety Podcast which will forever change your mind (for the better) when it comes to the way you think about anxiety. She recently wrote about her thought downloads on her IG account. She says this about the 5-10 minutes she takes each day to do a thought dump…”The simple practice of writing down what’s going on in my mind gives these thoughts room to breathe. It gives me a few minutes to pause & take inventory of what’s going on with myself. Almost always, this practice creates space & shows me where I’m stuck.” That’s good stuff. Thought downloads can help clear out the cobwebs of our minds, making space for clarity and creativity. Just as we take time to clean up our living space, we also need to invest in the time it take to clean out our minds. We should engage in this type of journaling often. I engage in thought downloads almost daily, but the last type of journal I’ll talk about, trip journals, only happen when, you guessed it, we are on a trip…
Trip Journal– I always take along a journal when on vacation. This spring break trip, I started off strong, writing at the quaint little desk in our Magic Castle hotel in the hills of Hollywood. It was at this desk that I also wrote a real, actual postcard and even mailed it! I kind of ran out of steam as the trip progressed and we all fell into bed at the end of the day, weary from a day of exploring. But, another great thing about journaling is…there are no rules. Who cares if I write about our adventures the day they happen or a couple of days later? As long as I get the important details and funny tidbits of conversation down on paper, I know I will not ever forget the time my family spent together in California, the laughs we shared, and the fun we had.
Are you ready to get started?
Please, please shoot me an email or a text if you’re jumping on the journaling bandwagon. I want to hear how it goes! And remember, you do not have to be a writer to journal. Your journal is just for you. Just this morning I was glancing back over a journal I had written three years ago where I had challenged myself to journal at least twice a week. I started off small, but now I journal almost every single day! And I have definitely seen results in terms of clarity, confidence, and creativity.
Happy writing!