The most common (and for some people, repulsive) misconception about journals is the idea that a journal must only function as a diary of sorts. Nothing could be further from the truth! There are many benefits to be reaped from a common, consistent practice of journal-writing (rather you write everyday, or just a few times a week).
Today I want to focus on the various ways a journal can be implemented (and useful) in different areas of your life.
10 Different Types of Journals
1. Basic Journal
This is the type of journal that does serve as a diary of sorts. You use it to reflect on your everyday life, to observe things that happen to you, vent your frustrations and share your hopes and dreams with yourself. Many people find a basic journal off-putting (particularly men, as they faulty perceive a journal as a diary) because they feel that their everyday lives aren't important enough to write about. If you feel this way, you are missing the point altogether! Journals are a great way to get things on paper, to figure things out, to play with and organize your thoughts. Journals do not require momentous, amazing happenings because no one is going to read them but you! Though, once you start writing you may, indeed, realize that the 'little' things are really kind of the 'big' things in life!
2. Morning Journal
This is the type of journal that you write in, everyday, first thing in the morning. People might say, 'Oh, there's nothing to write about that early in the day!' Trust me, it's an amazing way to dump useless mental energy...crazy memories, worries, aggravations, thoughts that are running rampant. These stray thoughts dim our creativity by using up valuable thinking space in our brains. Think of it much the same as restarting a computer...you dump all the old memory and make some room to remember, take note, and respond to the important things in the day to come.
3. Gratitude Journal
You are only as happy and blessed as you remember you are! This type of journal is fast, and easy, to keep. Every single morning, write down three things you are most thankful for (try to write different things everyday), for some abundant insight into how blessed you really are. At the the very end of the day, return to the journal to write down one or two really amazing things that happened that day. Imagine looking back at this journal after a couple of months and realizing all the great things you have in your life! Psychologists have actually proclaimed that a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to combat depression.
4. Writers Notebook
This is a great place to plug in all those great ideas and the creative flashes we usually get at 3am. I have a very small notebook I carry around in my purse (it's also small enough to fit into my back pocket, for those of you who don't carry a tote/purse/backpack regularly). My notebook is divided into two sections. In the front part, I write daily observations that catch my eye...pieces of conversation, interesting ideas and quotes, things I see that may work well in a story or poem. I simply flip the notebook over to the backside (you'd be writing back to front in this case) and jot down ideas for stories, poems, scenery that come to me at random times. Later, when I do my daily writing, if I feel uninspired or dried up of ideas, my writers notebook comes in handy!
5. Memory Book
The idea of a memory book may bring to mind those cute little books we used to buy during our middle school, or high school, years. They had important questions about how much things cost...perfect little boxes to glue in pictures. Blank lines to write our most important memories or memorable events that happened to us in any given year. Just because you graduate from school does not mean that your memories are no longer important to preserve! Imagine all the little things we lose to memory...our children's first words, their first whole sentences, the first time we meet people, our favorite Chrstimas gift from our belated grandmother on so-and-so year. Memory books are wonderful for gathering these important, momentous events that make the very framework of our lives, the fabric of who we are. You can keep a separate memory book for each year and jot down important things as you go along. Add photos, cards, invitations, flyers, old tickets, a piece of the wrapping paper from a meaningful gift, little souvenirs that will bring you back to the moment so you never forget all the important things!
6. Dream Journal
Freud (one of the most highly acclaimed psychologists/psychoanalysts of all time) proclaimed that dreams were merely reflections of the subconscious. His many lectures and writings adamantly stated that the conscious mind (the mind in which we are awake daily) is merely the tip of the iceberg of what is held inside our brains and our memories! He believed dreams were symbolic of other things...fears, desires, hopes, needs, wishes, and memories we have repressed. Writing down whatever dreams you remember upon awaking each day can be a fun and enlightening experience. There are many dream dictionaries that define the symbolism of certain things you dream, thus making a more deeper observation of your subconscious mind a more reflective experience. Go ahead and try it, there's no telling what things you may uncover!
7. A Notebook of Inspirational Ideas
At first sight, you may think this sounds the same as the Writers Notebook, it is actually quite the opposite. A notebook of inspirational ideas will offer up a happy place for you to write down quotes, compliments, bits of beneficial advice you see on TV shows or in magazines. You can glue inspiring magazine/book images or even complete magazine articles. Write down your daily accomplishments, motivating affirmations, inspiring quotes, pieces of advice from other successful people. Inspiring ideas and observations you see all around you. Make this notebook into a testimony of all the good in the world. Turn a simple notebook into a place that inspires you to live big and reach far!
8. Self Development Journal
This type of journal is a great, private, place for figuring out your life. Make lists of your achievements. Make lists for goals you want to accomplish with detailed action plans and ideas for how you will achieve each one. Write about areas of your life that need improvement and make plans for how you will improve. Give yourself time limits (6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years). Write your personal mission statement ( a statement that embodies who you, the type of person you wish to grow into, and what you wish to accomplish in this life) on the front page. You can also write your fitness plans and/or weight-loss goals. Make lists of all the great books/documentaries you read/watched and how they motivated or helped you, among other advice for better living.
9. Art Journal
Think of this as a regular writing journal...only, you would be expressing your ideas, moods, memories, and observation in images! There are many ways to utilize 'art' in a journal. You can create collages (with magazine, or other images you find in books or printed from online). You can sketch, doodle, draw. You can write with colorful markers or clip words and quotes from magazines. Write your favorite lyrics in a colorful marker. Add stickers and embellishments (buttons, ribbons, gems, etc). Art journals are wonderful stress relieves and can serve as a colorful, and entertaining, testimony of your creative life!
10. Reflective 'Writing-Prompt' Guided Journal
This type of journal is used primarily to write/reflect upon appointed writing prompts/journal writing prompts. The internet is full of journal writing prompts, there are even books devoted to a daily practice of prompt writing. Grab a notebook and write one journal-writing prompt at the top of each page until every page has it's own prompt. Later, when you're in the mood to write, you can grab your prompt journal...flip the pages until you find a prompt that speaks to you, and then write. The great thing about this type of writing is, you don't have to time yourself or worry about how much to write...you simply have only one page to fill, so no pressure! The other great thing is, you're topic/question/idea is already chosen for you...so all you have to to is just write!
Personally, I keep several of these journals as they all serve a different purpose to my writer's life. However, as you experiment with them, I'm sure you'll find that the journal-writing experience will enrich your life at a very small expense!
Remember, the more time you put into some of your journals, the more bounty your reward!