Creative Tips for Journaling: What to Write About

Get creative with your journal, it doesn’t have to be a daunting thing but a healthy part of your life.

As an avid journalist, the question I get asked the most is what do I journal about and how do I keep journaling creative? As with anything that you do on a daily basis, you have to mix it up and make it your own. A journal isn’t just a place for your thoughts, it’s a place for things that matter to you. If you’ve always wanted to journal but weren’t sure where to start, this post is for you. (And for the many friends that have asked me to write this, thank you for pushing me)

Picking a Journal: Picking a journal should be a meditative process. Look for a journal that gives you all the feels, something that sparks joy when you look at it. I tend to favor the leatherbound journals, the smell of it and the way it looks on my bedside table makes me smile. Aim to find a journal where the pages are not perforated but bound to the spine so that over time and use, they don’t fall out.

Be Intentional: If you’re approaching journaling as a chore, you could be missing opportunities for real growth. As with anything, intention matters. I recommend approaching journaling with a specific mindset and as a source of empowerment. Self-expression can be a real tool for growth and healing but only if you are intentional. Your thoughts, feeling and ideas are unique and worth writing down. Give yourself the freedom to explore and stay curious as you journal.

A Note on Judgement: Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t judge yourself for what you write, how you write or not spelling things correctly. Don’t filter yourself and don’t try to be perfect. It is important to write in your journal from a place of non-judgement both from yourself and from ‘whoever’ might find it. A re-occurring theme for those I meet that have always wanted to journal but don’t start is that they are worried someone will find it. In my experience I have collected many journals of passed family members and I can tell you that I do NOT judge their entries. While journaling can be intimate, ultimately is simply a chronicle of the human journey that we are all on.

Try adding foliage to your journal. It’s a great excuse to go for a walk too.

Now onto the fun stuff, journaling itself. Now that you’ve got a fancy journal and the right frame of mind, I’ll share with you what makes it into my journal and how I keep it creative. Each day in my journal is different, alternating the ideas below.

Idea #1: Use your journal to vent. This is the most obvious way to journal and one of the healthiest things you can do. It is not negative but can be a reflective and healing way to understand how you are feeling before you try to communicate your feelings. This life is hard, relationships are hard, job environments are hard. Ditch the idea that recording pain or suffering or anger is a negative thing. In fact, getting those thoughts out of your head an onto paper will actually provide a sense of relief and clarity.

Idea #2: Jot down something that happened during the day, something you are looking forward to or a dream that you had/have. I daydream in my journal a lot, often referencing how I wished I was Storm from X-Men so I can conjure thunderstorms at will.

Idea #3: Words have always meant something to me so if I am watching a show or scrolling Instagram and an audio clip resonates with me, I record it on my phone and transcribe it into my journal later. I often transcribe reel audios into my journal, there is truth and wisdom everywhere.For some of my favorite life changing quotes, click here.

Idea #4: I read a lot of books and you better believe bookish quotes, titles and authors get noted in my journal. You’ll look back later and remember your favorite books. If you highlight your books or tab them like I do and don’t know what to journal for the day, try adding bookish quotes. Or snap a photo of the prose you fancy as not to interrupt the flow of reading and write it in your journal later.

Idea #5: If I have a random memory that comes up in conversation or in my mind, I pull open the Notes app on my phone or the Voice Recorder app and repeat the memory while it’s fresh. That way when I get home and want to journal, I can write down those random memories, lest someday I might forget them.

Idea #6: Sometimes when I am at a loss for words, I doodle. It doesn’t have to be anything artistically profound, just maybe a rose or an eye or a tree. If you’re not into drawing, go outside and pick a flower or leaf and glue that into your journal. Add in a couple sentences about why that piece of nature resonated with you and you’re done for the day.

Idea #7: If you are a music junkie like me, some days I just jot down some songs from my playlist. Someday I can look back on those track titles and remember this time of my life. I honestly wish I had done that in my youth so I could re-listen to those angsty songs, live and learn.

Idea #8: Google news headlines and journal those. It seems strange but it’s an amazing way to look back at this time in your life and see what you’ve lived through. I often go back and read headlines from the past and marvel at how different life is now. Another fun thing to do is add your grocery receipt to your journal. It’s wild to see how much things cost 10 years ago vs now.

Idea #10: Talk about food! Copy down a favorite recipe into your journal. What are you eating? What do you love to make in the kitchen? What’s a dish that brings you comfort? Who do you love to go eat with? What is a recipe you’ve always wanted to be able to make? What foods do you not like? Do you grow any food? Do you have any tips or tricks you’ve learned to do in the kitchen? All these questions can be answered in a journal entry. People connect through food, writing about it is just as rewarding.

Above all, have fun with your journal. Get to know yourself, what you like and don’t like. Ground yourself and document your life in the physical form as a meditative process. Journaling can bring great peace and a sense of confidence. It also helps you to get to know and understand yourself. I encourage everyone to journal as part of a healthy lifestyle and a great tool for self-growth. Let me know below if you liked these suggestions or if you want more and I’ll make a part 2.

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