There are so many different types of journaling that it can be hard to know where to start. If you’re used to journaling, you may have a preference. But there are many different ways and different styles of journaling to keep track of your life.
Depending on your goals and lifestyle, the type of journaling you choose as well how often you journal may vary. You may want to journal every day or you may have a journal used specifically for other purposes that requires less frequency.
What’s important is you reap the many benefits of journaling, which is proven to have long-term health improvements. Journaling is a great tool for processing your thoughts, tracking habits, and experiencing self-discovery.
Nine Types of Journals to Try
Selecting the right type of journal to try is key to maintaining and enjoying the practice. But it can be tough to figure out which one you’re actually going to like. How will you know until you try?
Journaling may be a time when you come up with new ideas, try mind mapping, relieve stress, track your progress, or just write freely. We’ve put together a list of nine different types of journals with lots of examples to consider when starting your next one.
1. Minute Journals
These first types of journals utilize a structured time and length of writing in order to help you establish a routine.
Minute journaling is designed to be a short, daily, time-boxed session. You can set a timer for one minute, five minutes, or ten minutes. The length of time is up to you.
Then journal through a prompt or just begin freewriting. Even if your goal is to write one line a day for one minute a day, this type of journal frees you to do that.
2. Morning Pages
Morning Pages are similar but slightly different. Originating from the book The Artist’s Way, this method of journaling is designed to help artists and creative souls. But it can really help anyone, because we all need “creative recovery,” according to author Julia Cameron.
The method is to sit down with your notebook and favorite journal pen every morning and write three pages of whatever is on your mind. This is your stream of consciousness. By doing a type of journal format called Morning Pages, the goal is to identify and decide whether you want to tackle the negativity that is limiting your creativity.
Both of these types are more structured and revolve around self-discovery and brain dumping.
When you’re just starting out, try focusing more on the daily practice and less on the subject matter. This can be a great way to establish a journaling routine.
3. Bullet Journals
If you haven’t heard of bullet journals, then you likely will soon. This third type of journal is one of the most popular journal structures within the last five years. It was designed originally by Ryder Carroll to help “multiple-notebook people” simplify their lives.
The bullet journal method allow for total customization. You start with a blank journal with a faint dotted grid. You can create lists, calendars, graphs (if your brain works that way), and entire journal entries. But the key is formatting and indexing it however you like.
There are millions of suggestions online and on social media that you can follow to set up your journal initially. Plus, there are more and more journal companies introducing their own versions of pre-templated bullet journals.
This type of journaling merges productivity with creativity and mindfulness. It allows you to reduce the clutter of sticky notes and grocery lists and planners in the way that suits you best. Now all those things are in one place.
4. Hobby Journals
Perhaps one of the more practical types of journaling can be based on your hobbies. For many of us, our hobbies and interests outside of our daily routines and work keep us grounded. That's what this fourth type of journaling is all about.
These activities we value so highly for our mental and physical wellbeing can be great topics for journals.
A few examples may include:
- Gardening and houseplants
- Music and art
- Book clubs and personal reading
- Yoga and meditation
- Knitting and fiber crafts
An art journal, reading journal, photography journal, or crafting journal can function as a portfolio of your work over time. This type of journal allows you to keep a log of your preferences, settings, materials, and experiences.
Plus, if you belong to a community for your hobby, a journal like this is a great way to share knowledge. It could become a valuable resource for teaching and improving your skills.
5. Health & Wellness Journals
As it relates to mental health and wellness, journaling can be a way to track progress and lead to more self-discovery. This fifth category of journaling can range in form and function.
The way you structure your journal may look different depending on the health and wellness practices you do on a regular basis. A few examples of this might be:
Whether CrossFit, Peloton, yoga, running, walking, tennis, gym classes, boot camps, or at-home workouts, a fitness journal can help you keep track of your workouts and progress. It can be a place where you set personal goals for yourself and map out the steps to achieve them.
There are so many evidence-based benefits to meditation. Whether it’s a purely physical and mindfulness exercise or if it includes a spiritual component, a journal can enhance your practice.
This type of journal may be a place where you jot down things you want to meditate on. It may be a place where you log where, when, and how you meditated if you want to keep track of all your sessions.
For people on spiritual journeys, a bible journal or other types of religious guides can be something you journal through. Regardless of your beliefs, many people enjoy writing as a way to articulate their beliefs and hopes for themselves.
Whether it's for weight loss purposes or to log your favorite foods at different restaurants over time, food journaling can help with this. Plus, it’s a great way to keep track of new ingredients you may want to cook with and try at home.
6. Season-of-life journals
The sixth type of journal you may not have thought of is a journal for whatever season or stage of life you’re in. Here are a few ideas:
- Engagement journal
- Pregnancy journal
- Illness journal
- Unemployment journal
- Recovery journal
- Retirement journal
- Season (winter, spring, summer, fall) journal
Not everyone is cut out for structured, daily journal entries about life and consciousness. Maybe your brain is wired for occasional check-ins, almost like writing a letter to yourself.
One way to make sure you aren’t starting a lifelong journal commitment that is daunting and sure to fizzle is to journal through your current season of life. The list above has just a few examples of where you may be and what may characterize your life right now. And within your life, there may be overlapping seasons.
But this type of journal can help process and record your experiences and feelings as you work through them.
7. Project Journal
Similar to a hobby journal, a project journal is a great way to dedicate journal entries to a project you are working on. There are different styles of project journals. But one of the easiest ways to start one without taking much time is to quickly journal after each working session on a project.
Jot down what you accomplished in the session, how much time it took you, what materials you used, what your next step is, and any key learnings from today. This could be a series of bullets or just one sentence. It's whatever works best for you!
8. Dream Journal
Another type of journaling you may not have considered is a dream journal. If you're someone that has vivid dreams and an active thought life in your sleep, recording these on the blank pages of your journal may be interesting. Not only that, keeping a dream journal may spark ideas for creative writing.
Whatever your motivation, a dream journal is another fun way to cultivate a creative journaling practice. Sometimes just putting our thoughts on paper can be incredibly useful tool to help us identify patterns, behaviors and opportunities for personal growth.
9. Travel Journal
Another journal method that you could try is travel journaling. Obviously the amount you travel is a key component to this. But if you're someone that likes to track your experiences, food intake on trips, sight seeing, cultural observations, etc., travel journaling is a perfect way to do this.
Plus, travel journals can incorporate mixed materials. On your next trip, pack a glue stick. Every ticket stub or brochure you acquire, glue it onto a blank page. Leave room for pictures you print when you get home. In this way, a travel journal becomes an on-the-go scrapbook, plus it enhances the experience of re-reading about your travels.
Pick a journaling type and get started
The best way to know which of the many different types of journaling is going to be a good fit is to pick one and start. You won’t know until you try.
If you're still looking for ideas on how to start journaling, one thing to try is guided journaling. Check out our list of journaling prompts to start your creative journaling process!