how to write book journal

Book Journaling: What It Is and How to Get Started

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Abby Hargreaves

Abby Hargreaves is a New Hampshire native living and working as a Children’s Librarian in Washington, D.C. She fulfills the gamut of the librarian stereotype with a love of cats, coffee, and crocheting (and likes a good run of alliteration). Her MLIS degree enjoys the company of a BA in English from Hollins University, making Abby an advocate of women's universities. Her favorite color is yellow.

View All posts by Abby Hargreaves

I’ve been reading for as long as I remember. My Goodreads account boasts a fairly impressive number of books read, but it’s not a complete list. For many years, I kept a notebook with a list of the books I read and that, too, was incomplete. I wish I had figured out when I was younger that I would someday want the entire catalog of books I’d read. Even now, with Goodreads and other media that makes tracking reading possible, it’s often difficult for me to even remember basic plot lines or main characters’ names of books I’ve read because there are just so many. Fortunately, I recently stumbled upon the concept of book journaling, and I think it has the potential to totally turn this problem around.

What is book journaling? We've got a guide to the art and craft of book journaling and why you might want to try it. journaling | book journaling | book habits | reading habits | reading tracking | commonplace books

As a teen, I spent a lot of time listening to music and interacting with songs in the forms of writing down favorite lines and illustrating lyrics. Why it never occurred to me to do this with books—which have, overall, been a larger part of my life than has music—is beyond me. The idea was first evident to me when I saw a post about it on a Facebook group for library professionals. Lisa Johnson described a method she utilizes for retaining more of what she read. Described as “using a reader’s notebook,” Johnson’s process is simple and easily adaptable to the reader’s needs.

View this post on Instagram My second book “Creatively Productive” will be released with @dbc_inc January 26th, 2019. Chapter 6 focuses on reading retention and using a reader’s notebook which has been life-changing for me. I find I remember, retain, and am able to really make sense of what I read, and absorb this info into my practice when I utilize this process. . . . 👉🏻🙌🏻My most recent spread is from @nishawrites and her book “My So-Called Bollywood Life” which was fantastic. . . . My process is 1️⃣ Read and highlight book, 2️⃣ Choose colors and objects that represent or mimic the tone or mood of the book 3️⃣ Write the title similarly as it is on the book, 4️⃣ Jot down my favorite quotes, words, phrases, literary devices, or things that spoke to or resonated with me as I read the book. (☝🏻I should also mention that the front half of my bullet journal is a reader’s notebook and the back half is my bullet journal with lifestyle lists and mood and habit trackers.) #tlap #creativelyproductive . . . #mysocalledbollywoodlife #readersofinstagram #readersareleaders #fiction #fictionbooks #reading #bookrecommendations #txla #teachersofinstagram #ncte #authorsofinstagram #readersnotebook #bookish #bookclubofinstagram #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #bookreview #bookreviews #librariansofig #bookclubs #bookclub #bookobsessed #readaholic #bookgram #commonplacebook #commonplacebooks #booksnaps #nctevillage A post shared by Lisa Johnson, M.Ed. (@notechef4u) on Dec 22, 2018 at 6:04am PST

Outlined in both her Instagram post above and her book, Creatively Productive , the process is this: “(1) Read and highlight the book (2) Choose colors and objects that represent or mimic the tone or mood of the book (3) Write the title similarly as it is on the book (4) Jot down my favorite quotes, words, phrases, literary devices, or things that spoke to or resonated with me as I read the book.” In doing this, readers are tasked with reading more intentionally and deeply before reiterating parts of the book that are important to them in the journal, thus making the book itself more memorable. Plus, readers then have easy access to those parts that were important in the form of their journal.

This works for both fiction and nonfiction—in one example, Johnson shares her spread for Ellen Hopkins’s Crank , proving that even verse can be effectively transcribed into the reading journal. In addition to individual spreads for books, readers might also include their to-be-read and have-read list. For readers who like the bullet journal method , book journaling can easily be incorporated into an existing bullet journal and a have-read list can also serve as a table of contents, provided the pages of the spreads are numbered.

Johnson recommends a handful of materials for readers who like to fancy up their notes—washi tape, permanent double-sided tape (especially for notebooks with thinner pages that might benefit from things like cardstock or index cards), magazines for cutting out images and words, colorful pens or markers, stickers, labels, mementos, and ephemera. All of these can enhance book spreads. Book journaling can be done either digitally or in analog, so if you prefer not to collect lots of supplies, try the same process on Google Docs or another platform, where you can gather images and other pieces from across the internet to design your spread.

If you’re looking for more guidance or inspiration on getting started with book journaling, Instagram has thousands of posts tagged #bookjournal (and many ‘grammers include related hashtags in their posts—so check those, too!).

You might be interested in doing something that primarily captures the visuals of the book.

View this post on Instagram “If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.” • • • yaaas my queen, Jude🔥🙌🏼 still trash for this book- I need to get my hands on The Wicked King ASAP • (Also just throwing it out there that if Netflix ever wants to make this book into a series I desperately need Ezra Miller to be considered for Cardan pls and thank🙏🏼) A post shared by Holly (@coffeefae) on Feb 22, 2019 at 12:10pm PST

Or maybe a focus on quotes is better suited to your needs.

Perhaps you’re just looking for a better method to review books, either for your own use or for sharing.

View this post on Instagram I read this for the module, Rethinking Failure, in one afternoon last Thursday before class! It was like Valentine’s day and it was honestly fairly depressing to read about the habitually cheating but “beautiful” Husband that the Wife is obsessed with? In her words, “beauty makes sex sex”…which sounds fairly reasonable, except that this text becomes less of one about love than of lust and desire. Imo both the Husband and Wife have serious issues la, and neither of them really fulfil each other’s needs so I would recommend marital counselling and therapy lol. Edit: I forgot to mention that I included a photo of Dodo in the second picture. He’s beautiful. He’s male. Too bad he ain’t a Husband. A post shared by The Study Theory (@thestudytheory) on Feb 17, 2019 at 9:04pm PST

There are so many ways to try book journaling…

View this post on Instagram ‘𝓼 𝓯𝓲𝓻𝓼𝓽 𝓹𝓸𝓼𝓽 i want to read more books! so im starting this instagram to track my progress 🥰 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bookjournal #bookstagram #bujo #bookspread #aesthetic #drawing #journaling #artjournal #reading #readingjournal #studyblr #journeytothecentreoftheearth #bookstagrammer #read #bookworm #book #bookclub #bookish #bookreview #bujoweeklyspread #bujoideas #bujoinspiration #bulletjournal #bulletjournalideas #bulletjournaladdict #handlettering #handwriting #brushlettering #bookphotography A post shared by tee (@paper.stdy) on Feb 17, 2019 at 8:04am PST

…and there’s no right way to do it!

View this post on Instagram Minha primeira leitura de 2019 foi o livro The Bear And The Nightingale (O Urso e O Roxinol), da @arden_katherine Esse livro se passa na Rússia medieval, no meio de um vilarejo numa floresta cheia de criaturas mágicas que só podem ser vistas por uma garota. Tudo vive em perfeito equilíbrio até que a madrasta dela chega e quebra o acordo silencioso entre as pessoas e as criaturas. Essa é uma história mágica e com personagens bem desenvolvidos. Tudo tem um ar de conto de fadas e a escrita faz você se sentir no inverno intenso da Rússia. Para mim, esse livro é muito bom e me deixou ansiosa para ler a continuação. . . Nota: 4,5 🌟 . . . . #TheBearAndTheNightingale #katherinearden #thewinternightseries #bookinstagram #bookporn #bookworn #booklover #literature #winter #introvertedgirl #yaliterature #yabooks #book #booknerd #yalit #favoritebooks #readingnook #bibliophile #booknstagram #bookish #bookishfeature #bookphotography #bookishthings #booknerdparadise #vsco #artjoural #bookjournal A post shared by Roberta 🌸 (@robsinbujoland) on Feb 13, 2019 at 5:49am PST

If you’re an educator, you might try implementing book journaling with the students in your life. Teens in particular may be drawn to the artistic potential in book journaling and ultimately walk away with a better understanding and memory of the reading material.

Find other book journal methods here and here .

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How To Start Journaling: The Best Journal Writing Guide For Beginners

I remember the first time I tried to start a journal, I was in my early 20s and I had just read a book that recommended journaling as a way to process thoughts and emotions. I was really skeptical at first but decided to give it a try anyway. I grabbed a rather beautiful notebook that I’d been given for Christmas a few years before, picked up my pen, and stared at the blank page in front of me. I’m not going to lie, it was awkward!

I didn’t know how to start journaling!

I didn’t know what to write about, or how to express myself. I had no idea where to start with my first journal entry. I then also realized that I really didn’t want to mess up the beautiful journal in front of me – the pressure was intense !

After a few minutes (that felt like years) I placed my pen on the paper and started writing about how nervous I was about writing!

After a little while something unexpected happened. I started to feel a sense of calm and before I knew it, I had one full page of writing!

Was it good? No.

Was it eloquent? No.

Was it masterful and life-changing? Also no!

Would someone who read it think I was crazy? Absolutely yes!

But it was a start!

Over the years I’ve continued to journal. I wish I could say that I’m 100% committed to the process but sometimes life gets on top of me and I’ll go weeks without writing a single thing. But, whenever I come back to it, I’m always surprised by how much it helps me !

In this article, I want to help you start your journal if you are a beginner. And trust me, once you’ve done your first page, it becomes a whole lot easier so let’s get started!

But before we begin…

  • Journal Writing and Its Benefits

If you are here then I’m sure you already know what journaling is and you probably also have a good idea of what its benefits are.

But if you would like a refresher, then check out my two previous articles, “ What is Journaling and Why Should You Try It ?”, and “ 15 Amazing Benefits Of Keeping A Journal “.

Choose A Journal

Setting a journal writing routine, decorating your first page, let go of any preconceived ideas you might have, write a letter to your future self, create a bucket list, self discovery, favorite memories, future aspirations, thankfulness & gratitude, reflect on your day, creative expression, brain dumping, today i am feeling…, i am grateful for…, my goal for the next 30 days is…, i am proud of…, i am looking forward to…, my favorite memory from my childhood is…, i am currently reading/watching/listening to…, my favorite quote or mantra is…, i am feeling stuck/overwhelmed/frustrated because…, my dream job/vacation/adventure is…, don’t compare yourself to others, set small achievable goals for yourself, allow yourself to write freely, use promps or templates, journal with a friend, track your progress, choose a quiet, comfortable place to write, be patient and kind to yourself, fear of not doing it “right”, lack of time, self-criticism & perfectionism, lack of motivation, difficulty expressing your emotions, privacy concerns, feeling overwhelmed, how to start journaling.

Let’s jump into getting you started with your first journal entry! As a journaling beginner , I know that starting a journal can feel really intimidating so I’ve tried to create a step-by-step process that you can follow to try to make it a bit easier.

Need some ideas about the different types of journals that you can start? Check out this article: 35+ Different Types Of Journals To Keep

I don’t know about you but when I was a kid I used to love shopping for new stationery at the beginning of the school year. It was so exciting! It was like a fresh start and a new beginning . As an adult, I still love choosing new notebooks and stationery!

But where do you start when choosing a journal? My recommendation is to choose something that fits your personality and gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling when you look at it. Your journal is going to be like a loyal companion to you so the very last thing you want is a notebook that you hate looking at!

And if you feel inspired, you can also choose colorful markers and pencils to add to your journaling stash!

Personalized Journal With Custom Cover

Make your journaling journey even more special with one of our personalized journals!

That said, of course you don’t need a fancy notebook or stationery to start your journal . If you are just starting out, start with anything you have! It might actually be easier with a notebook that you don’t consider beautiful or special.

Remember how much I didn’t want to mess up my beautiful first journal?

Don’t be me!

If you feel a bit overwhelmed by the idea of filling the big blank pages in an A4 notebook or journal then choose a smaller notebook that is easier to fill and less intimidating.

As a beginner, consistency is the key when it comes to journaling ! So the easiest way to get started is by choosing a time and place where you can write in your journal peacefully and without distractions.

This could be first thing in the morning , before bed, or even during your lunch break. Just choose a time that you know you will be able to stick to on a daily basis.

Remember, you don’t want journaling to become a chore so choose a time when you won’t feel rushed or pressurized!

Once you have decided on a time, commit to sticking to it, and if necessary, set a reminder on your phone so that you don’t forget!

And, if you feel that writing on a daily basis is too much, then set a routine that is easier to stick to even if it’s just journalling a few times a week . The trick is to get into a routine that you can stick with.

And what if you don’t feel like writing on a particular day? Don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply journal in your next timeslot… or! Open your journal and write about why you don’t feel like writing on that day… even if it’s short and sweet!

Writing Your First Journal Entry

You’ve got your journal, you’ve got your pens and other stationery, now where do you begin?

Some people find that a great way to start their journal is by decorating their first page .

This is a fun way to get your feet wet without committing to actually writing anything!

Plus you get that “I’m going to mess up this beautiful journal” feeling out of the way. But remember, journaling is all about you so, if you don’t want to decorate the first page, then skip this bit.

Decorating your first journal page is a great way to make your journal feel more personal and special. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Use Colorful Pens or Markers – You can get started by writing your name or a quote that inspires you in bright colorful letters using pens and markers that you love. Get color palette ideas here!
  • Add A Doodle or Sketch – Adding drawings and sketches that you’ve drawn is a great way to make your journal feel even that much more personal.
  • Stickers and Washi Tape – You can use stickers or washi tape to add color and interest to your first page. You can also use them to create a border or frame around your page.
  • Use Stamps or Stencils – If you have a stamp or stencil collection then use them to add patterns, images, or words to your page.
  • Add a Collage – You can create a collage using images, words, or other things that inspire you! This is a great way to celebrate your personality and interests.
  • Add a Quote or Lyrics – If you have a quote or specific lyrics that inspire you then add those to your page, and decorate around them with colors, doodles, stickers, and other fun things.
  • Create a Vision Board – A great way to start your journal is by using your first page as a vision board where you can include images and words that represent your goals and dreams.
  • Play WIth Fonts – Sometimes you might find it easier to create headings or titles in Word or Canva. Doing this allows you to play with different fonts and print out pages you can stick inside your journal (check out some awesome free font ideas here ).
  • Keep It Simple – Don’t feel like you need to over-decorate your first page – sometimes simplicity is best! Remember that the most important thing is to have fun and make your journal your own!

Before you start your journal you must remember this…

There is no right or wrong way to journal!

Say it with me, “There is no right or wrong way to journal” 🙂

Okay great, I’m glad that is out of the way.

Oh and before I forget…

Your journal is personal and for your eyes only!

When you start journaling you might need to make a conscious effort to let go of the idea that someday someone might read your personal journal .

I remember that this is one of the things that held me back from truly expressing myself when I first started journaling ! Subconsciously I was scared that someone would find my journal and read it – I would then be incredibly embarrassed and would need to move to another town!

I get it, the fear is real!

I really had to learn to let go of the idea that someone might see my writing and you will need to do the same because you’ll never be able to fully express yourself as long as you hang onto the idea that someone is going to read your personal journal . And if all else fails, hide your journal under your mattress or in the ceiling!

Start Writing!

As I mentioned before, there is no right or wrong way to journal so you really can do anything you like!

Some people like to start their daily entries by recording the date at the top of the page so that their journal becomes almost like a diary. Others like to divide up their personal journals into categories or sections where they can record or write about specific things such as what they are grateful for.

Although there is no “proper” way to start journaling here are a few suggestions on what to write when you begin writing in your journal:

Write a letter to yourself a year from now. Write about your hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations and what you hope to achieve in the coming year. Write as if you are writing to a special friend or family member that you love deeply and trust completely. Someone who doesn’t judge or criticize.

Take this idea a step further and write letters to people in your life . This is a great way to explore how people make you feel.

For example, if someone has hurt you, write about what happened and why you feel the way you feel. Likewise, if someone is an important, loving part of your life, write a letter to them expressing why you love them.

Remember that these people will never see your letters so you can be completely open and honest.

Create a bucket list of things that you want to achieve or experience both in the coming year and in the future. Make notes to explore why these goals and experiences are important to you.

Once your bucket list has been created. Go through each item and write about how you will feel once you have achieved specific items on the list. And if you like, add pictures and drawings that inspire you!

Write down any traits or qualities that you love about yourself . Describe your talents, gifts, beliefs, hopes, and dreams. Here you can also explore your fears and anxieties.

You can also write about the things that you don’t like about yourself and how you want to work towards becoming a better person. You can also write about things that you would like to learn or explore about yourself.

Another great way to start writing is to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and in your journal describe how you are feeling at this moment. You can also write about the thoughts that are circulating in your mind as you begin writing.

Begin your first personal journal entry by writing about your favorite memories. Think back to when you were younger and write about the happiest times you can remember . You can also include what made each of these memories so special for you.

Write about what your perfect day would look like in five years’ time . Record everything from what you will have for breakfast or who you will spend time with. You can include steps you can take today to help you move closer to that ideal day.

Start your journal by writing down some of the things you are most grateful for today. Write about how each of those things makes you feel and why you are so grateful for them.

If there are specific people that you are grateful for, write about why these people are so special to you and how they make you feel. Write about ways that you can show them how much they mean to you.

One of the best ways to start your journal is simply by reflecting on what happened during your day. What were the highlights and what were the challenges? Were there any particular moments that stood out and how did they make you feel?

Imagine that your emotions and feelings are colors . What colors would they be? Create drawings and sketches to represent how you feel in the moment using some of the colors you’ve chosen.

Brain dumping is where you simply write, you don’t think, you just write ! If you find it tricky to start then set a timer on your phone for a few minutes, turn your brain off, and just write.

Don’t think, don’t edit, don’t worry about spelling, just write.

After your timer goes off you can continue writing if you would like to, otherwise you can stop and reflect on everything you have written during your session.

Prompts To Get You Started

If you still feel a bit stuck with getting started with your personal journal, then here are a few beginner prompts to help you . Write these prompts down in your journal and then write your responses underneath them.

Remember that journaling is a safe space for you to express yourself honestly. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or how your writing flows. Write freely and without judgment by allowing your thoughts and feelings to flow onto the page.

This prompt can help you check in with your emotions and reflect on your current state of mind.

This prompt can help you create a sense of gratitude and appreciation for all the good things you have in your life.

Explore how to include gratitude in your journaling with our giant list of over 300 Gratitude Journaling Prompts

This prompt can help you set a short-term goal for yourself. Of course, your journal is also a great way to track your progress!

This prompt can help you reflect on your accomplishments and build your self-confidence.

This is a great prompt to help create a sense of excitement and positivity in your life. By using this prompt you can explore why the things you are looking forward to are important to you and how you can create more of them in your life.

This prompt is a great way to tap into your nostalgia and reflect on happy memories of the past.

This is a wonderful prompt that helps you reflect on your current interests and hobbies and it can help you explore new ones.

This prompt can help you reflect on your values and beliefs and provide inspiration and motivation for your journaling journey

This prompt can help you identify and explore areas of your life where you may be struggling and it can give you space to brainstorm solutions and strategies to help you overcome those challenges.

The prompt helps you to think about your aspirations and dreams. It also gives you the space to brainstorm ways to make them a reality.

Need more prompts? Get Hundreds Of Prompts In Our Free Prompt Library!

Journaling Tips For Beginners

If you are new to journaling it is important to keep a few things in mind to make the most of your experience. Here are some tips to help you get into it.

Remember that everyone’s journaling journey is unique so don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Don’t worry about how often other people journal, how long their journal entries are, or how “good” their writing is. Focus on yourself and let your journaling evolve naturally.

Don’t feel you must journal for hours a day. Set yourself small, achievable goals such as writing for 5 to 10 minutes a day and gradually increase your time as you become more comfortable.

Journaling is a safe space for you to express yourself freely and honestly. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or how your writing flows.

If you are struggling to come up with ideas to write about then use prompts or templates to get you started. You can find prompts and templates online or you can create your own based on your interests, feelings, or experiences.

Our Prompts Library Contains Free Prompts For The Following Topics:

  • Shadow Work
  • Anxiety And Stress
  • Self-Improvement & Success
  • Relationships
  • Self-Love And Self-Care
  • Spirituality
  • Manifestation
  • Visualization

When you start journaling it can be great to get started with a friend who can give you support. You can share ideas, prompts, and feedback with each other and you can encourage each other to keep going.

Keep track of your journaling by marking off days on a calendar or using an app to help you. Use reminders on your phone to keep you on track. This will help you make journaling a consistent part of your routine.

Find a place to write that is quiet and comfortable so that you can focus without distractions . This could be your bedroom, a park, or even a cozy local coffee shop.

Remember that journaling is a habit that takes time to develop. Be patient and kind to yourself as you start to journal and don’t get discouraged if you miss a day or two – simply get back on track and keep moving forward.

Things That Might Be Holding You Back From Learning To Journal

If you’ve made it this far then that means you are really committed to starting to journal! That’s great. However, there might still be some things that are holding you back from getting started. Let’s take a look at some common things that people experience and how you can overcome them:

There’s no right or wrong way when it comes to journaling! Just write! If you are feeling stuck try brain dumping or freewriting where you write whatever comes into your mind without stopping or worrying about things like spelling or grammar.

“I don’t have time to journal” is a common excuse. But if you think about it, journaling can actually save you time in the long run by helping you prioritize your thoughts, feelings, goals, and priorities. Start small with only a few minutes a day and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two.

Trust me, it is really easy to get caught up in self-criticism, especially when it comes to something like journaling.

Remember it’s okay not to be perfect.

Trust the process and don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes, write messily, or have unfinished thoughts and pages. The goal of journaling is to learn and grow not to create a perfect work of art so enjoy it!

It is very normal to feel unmotivated sometimes, especially when you are just starting to journal.

You can overcome this by committing to writing for a few minutes, a couple of times a week. You can also find an accountability partner by journaling with a friend or joining a journaling group.

Journaling is an emotional experience and it can be difficult to express your emotions especially at first. It is okay to take your time and start small.

Try starting by writing about your day and as you get used to writing, you can gradually explore deeper emotions and topics.

We’ve spoken about this one already but if you are still concerned that someone is going to read your journal then you could consider using a password-protected digital journal or a journal with a lock.

You can also try using pseudonyms when writing about people so that if someone does read your journal they won’t know who you are talking about.

Although journaling can be a powerful tool for self-reflection, it can also feel overwhelming sometimes. If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, try breaking your journaling down into smaller more manageable chunks.

For example, write three things you are grateful for in the morning and then write about your day in the evening.

Try brain dumping or freewriting with a stopwatch to get you unstuck.

Journaling Is A Journey, Not A Destination

Remember, journaling is a journey, not a destination. It is a habit that needs commitment, patience, and kindness. Be gentle with yourself as you start your journal and don’t be scared to explore new methods and techniques.

As you continue to write in your journal it will become easier and you will find that it becomes a great tool for making your way through life. You will find it a great help with facing difficult decisions, struggling with setbacks, and even celebrating successes!

I hope this article has helped you if you have been stuck on how to start journaling! I’d love to know if you managed to get started or if you need help. Let me know in the comments section below!

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How to Write Journal Entries for a Book: A Step-by-Step Guide

Writing Journal Entries for a Book

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Writing journal entries for a book is an excellent way to engage with the text and track your thoughts and reactions as you read. Whether you are reading for pleasure, personal growth, or academic purposes, keeping a journal can help you deepen your understanding of the material and connect with it on a more meaningful level. In this article, we will explore some tips and strategies for writing effective journal entries for a book.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when writing journal entries is to be honest and authentic. Your journal is a space for you to express your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or criticism. Don’t worry about writing in complete sentences or using proper grammar and punctuation; instead, focus on capturing your reactions and impressions as they occur. Whether you are moved to tears by a poignant passage or frustrated by a confusing plot twist, write it down. Your journal should be a reflection of your unique perspective and experience with the text.

Another key aspect of writing journal entries for a book is to be consistent. Set aside a regular time each day or week to sit down and reflect on your reading. This will help you stay engaged with the material and prevent you from forgetting important details or insights. Consider using prompts or questions to guide your writing , such as “What surprised me about this chapter?” or “How does this character’s journey relate to my own life?” By approaching your journaling with intention and focus, you can maximize the benefits of this powerful tool for reflection and learning.

Understanding Journal Entries

how to write book journal

Journaling is a great way to keep track of your thoughts, ideas, and experiences while reading a book . It helps you to reflect on what you have read and to organize your thoughts. However, before you start journaling, it is important to understand the basics of journaling and the different types of journals.

The Basics of Journaling

Journaling involves writing down your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in a notebook or on a computer. Journal entries can be written in any format, but it is important to be consistent with your format. The most common format for journal entries includes the date, time, and a brief description of the entry.

When writing a journal entry for a book , it is important to include the title of the book, the author, and the page number. This helps you to keep track of your progress and to reference specific parts of the book later on.

Types of Journals

There are two main types of journals: general journals and special journals. General journals are used to record daily events, thoughts, and feelings. Special journals, on the other hand, are used to record specific types of information, such as dreams, gratitude, or goals.

Digital journals are becoming increasingly popular, as they allow for easy organization and accessibility. However, some people prefer the traditional pen-and-paper method for journaling.

When journaling for a book, it is important to decide what type of journal you want to use. A general journal may be best if you want to record your overall thoughts and feelings about the book. A special journal, such as a character analysis journal , may be best if you want to focus on a specific aspect of the book.

In conclusion, understanding the basics of journaling and the different types of journals can help you to create effective journal entries for a book. Whether you choose to use a digital journal or a traditional pen-and-paper method, consistency and organization are key.

Setting Up Your Journal

how to write book journal

When it comes to writing journal entries for a book, setting up your journal is an important first step. This section will cover two key aspects of setting up your journal: choosing a medium and structuring your entries.

Choosing a Medium

The first decision you’ll need to make is what medium you’ll use for your journal. There are a few options to consider:

  • Physical journal: Many people prefer to write in a physical journal, using pen and paper. This can be a great option if you enjoy the tactile experience of writing and want to disconnect from technology while you journal.
  • Digital journal: If you prefer to type, a digital journal may be a better option. There are many online tools and apps available, such as Penzu, that allow you to create a digital journal that you can access from anywhere.
  • Mixed media journal: Some people prefer to combine writing with other forms of media, such as drawings or collages. If this sounds appealing to you, consider using a mixed media journal.

Whichever medium you choose, make sure it’s one that you enjoy using and that feels comfortable to you.

Structuring Your Entries

Once you’ve chosen your medium, it’s time to think about how you’ll structure your journal entries. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Include the date: Start each entry by including the date. This will help you keep track of your progress and give you a sense of how much you’re accomplishing.
  • Include the location: If the book you’re reading takes place in a specific location, consider including that location in your entry. This will help you visualize the setting and immerse yourself in the story.
  • Write complete sentences: While it’s okay to use bullet points or lists, make sure you’re also writing complete sentences. This will help you remember the details of the book and reflect on your thoughts and feelings about it.
  • Use website resources: If you’re struggling to remember a character’s name or the details of a plot point, don’t be afraid to use online resources to refresh your memory. Just make sure you’re not copying and pasting large chunks of text into your journal.
  • Experiment with formatting: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different formatting options, such as bold or italicized text. This can help you highlight important details and make your entries more visually interesting.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a journal that will help you engage with the books you read on a deeper level.

Writing Techniques and Tips

how to write book journal

Developing Writing Skills

Developing writing skills is essential when it comes to writing journal entries for a book. One of the most effective ways to improve writing skills is to practice writing regularly. This can include writing about anything that interests you, or even just writing about your day. It’s also important to read widely and analyze the writing styles of different authors. This can help you identify what works and what doesn’t and can inspire you to try new techniques in your writing.

Another helpful technique is to brainstorm before you start writing. This can involve jotting down ideas, making mind maps, or creating outlines. This can help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your writing is focused and coherent. It’s also a good idea to reflect on your writing after you’ve finished. This can involve thinking about what you did well, what you could improve, and what you learned from the experience.

Effective Prompts and Questions

Using effective prompts and questions can help you generate ideas and insights for your journal entries. Some effective prompts include:

  • What did you find interesting or surprising about the book?
  • How did the book make you feel?
  • What did you learn from the book?
  • What questions do you have after reading the book?

It’s also a good idea to ask yourself open-ended questions that encourage you to reflect deeply on the book. For example, instead of asking “Did you like the book?” you could ask “What did you think about the book and why?”

In addition to prompts and questions, incorporating dialogue and opinions into your journal entries can make them more engaging and interesting to read. This can involve sharing your own thoughts and feelings about the book, as well as incorporating quotes from the book or other sources.

Overall, developing strong writing skills and using effective prompts and questions can help you write engaging and insightful journal entries for a book.

Accounting and Financial Journal Entries

how to write book journal

Basics of Double-Entry Bookkeeping

Double-entry bookkeeping is a method of accounting where each financial transaction is recorded in two accounts, one as a debit and the other as a credit. This ensures that the accounting equation, which states that assets must equal liabilities plus equity, always remains balanced.

Debits and credits are the two sides of every financial transaction. Debits refer to the amount of money that is being taken out of an account, while credits refer to the amount of money that is being added to an account.

In order to properly record transactions, it is important to understand the different types of accounts. Assets are things that a company owns, such as cash, inventory, and equipment. Liabilities are what a company owes, such as loans and accounts payable. Equity is the difference between assets and liabilities and represents the value of the company.

Recording Transactions

When recording a financial transaction, it is important to include all relevant information such as the date, reference number, and the accounts affected.

For example, if a company purchases inventory on credit, the journal entry would be:

This entry records the increase in inventory and the increase in accounts payable.

Special journals, such as the sales journal and the purchases journal, can also be used to record transactions. These journals are used to group similar transactions and make the accounting process more efficient.

Once transactions are recorded in the appropriate journals, they are then posted to the general ledger. The general ledger is a record of all the accounts used by a company and is used to prepare financial statements such as the income statement and the balance sheet.

Accounting software can be used to simplify the accounting process and ensure accuracy. It can also generate financial reports and help with tax preparation.

Overall, understanding double-entry bookkeeping and the basics of recording financial transactions is essential for accurate financial reporting and efficient accounting.

Reflective and Personal Journaling

Journaling is a powerful tool for reflection and personal growth. Reflective and personal journaling involves capturing experiences and emotions, reflecting on them, and understanding how they contribute to personal development. In this section, we will explore the benefits of reflective and personal journaling, and provide tips for getting started.

Capturing Experiences and Emotions

Reflective journaling involves capturing experiences and emotions in a way that allows for deeper reflection and understanding. When journaling, it is important to be honest and open about your experiences and emotions. This can help you gain a better understanding of yourself and your reactions to different situations.

One way to capture experiences and emotions is to write in the moment. This means writing about your experiences and emotions as they happen. This can help you capture the raw emotions and details of an experience, which can be useful for reflection later on.

Another way to capture experiences and emotions is to use prompts. Prompts can help guide your journaling and encourage you to reflect on specific experiences or emotions. For example, you might use a prompt like “Describe a time when you felt proud of yourself” to reflect on your accomplishments and personal growth.

Growth and Personal Development

Reflective and personal journaling can contribute to personal growth and development in a number of ways. By reflecting on your experiences and emotions, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your values. This can help you make better decisions and navigate difficult situations.

Journaling can also help you identify areas for growth and improvement. By reflecting on your mistakes and errors, you can learn from them and make changes to improve your future performance. This can be especially useful for students, who can use journaling to reflect on their academic progress and identify areas for improvement.

Overall, reflective and personal journaling is a powerful tool for personal growth and development. By capturing experiences and emotions, and reflecting on them, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your values, and make positive changes in your life.

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How to Write a Journal: 6 Tips to Get Started

by Pamela Hodges | 61 comments

Writers are collectors of ideas, and where do we keep them? On scraps of paper, napkins, the notes app of our phones, and sometimes in journals. But as anyone who's started a journal can attest, sometimes it's hard to begin and even harder to keep one going. So how to write a journal? What to write in a journal? Let's look at some simple ways to start capturing ideas. 

How to Write a Journal: 6 Tips

There are a number of ways to capture ideas, from keeping a gratitude journal, to a reading journal, to a project journal. No matter what type of journal you keep, let me share with you some tips from my journaling experience for how to keep a journal and why a journaling habit pays off for writers.

4 Advantages of Keeping a Journal

Julia Cameron, acclaimed author of The Artist's Way and more recently a 6-week program outlined in a book called Write for Life, begins the writing and artistic life with a practice she calls morning pages. In essence, she suggests writing three pages each morning to explore ideas and life, and to clear the mind.

The benefits of journaling this way are numerous. Writers who establish regular journaling time may find it helps them clear their minds and explore new ideas.

There are many reasons why it is a good idea to keep a journal. I want to share four big reasons this daily habit may help you with your writing process and develop your writing skills.

1. Remember details

When I traveled to Europe in 1978, I kept a journal of my daily life. I have notes from the trip to Greece where I wiped out on a moped, weeded sugar beets on Kibbutz Reshafim in Israel, and hitchhiked through occupied territory in the south of Israel.

There were several details of my trip that I had completely forgotten until I re-read my personal journals.

Recording the details of your life can enrich your stories. One year when for The Spring Writing Contest at The Write Practice, I wrote a story about when the IRS called me to say I owed money.

In my first draft, I wrote that the amount they said I owed was, $638. After I had completed the first draft I went back to the notes I had written in my journal, and the correct amount was over six thousand dollars: $6,846.48 to be exact. Well, maybe there are some things we don't want to remember.

Thankfully, I didn't send the money. It wasn't the real IRS. But it was even better than a writing prompt for a story idea.

2. Find old friends

Keeping a journal can help you find old friends. One of the women I met on November 26th, 1978, wrote down her address. I found her on Facebook and just sent her a message. (Social media and Google can also help, but the journal did remind me of her name.)

We'll see if she responds to my Facebook message. It has been almost forty years since she lent me a pair of gloves when I scraped my hand on the pavement when I fell off my moped.

3. Help process feelings and ideas

When you keep thoughts in your head it can be hard to know how you think and feel. Writing down how you feel will help you process your emotions , as feelings become words, which can be then be edited.

Processing your feelings and ideas can lead to personal growth and peace, but that's not all. Expressive writing can be therapeutic, but it can also help you flesh out characters later. 

4. Preserve the writer's history

When you are dead and a famous writer, your journals will give your readers insight into your life, thoughts, and process.

You may never sell more than one hundred copies of your book, you may never publish your writing, or your journals may only be read by the mice that crawl through your basement. Or your journals will be read by zombies after the zombie apocalypse, sharing insight into your life and daily routines.

If you don't want anyone to read your journal, keep it in a locked box and swallow the key. (Please don't really swallow the key. It would be unpleasant to have to find it again, and you might choke.) Put the key in a safe spot, and then remember where you put it. 

6 Tips for How to Keep a Journal (and What to Write in a Journal!)

Now you know why journaling can be helpful. But how should you journal? It is very personal, and you should do what works best for you. But I will give you some tips to help you get started on a journaling practice.

1. Choose your kind of journal

You have several options for how to keep your journal.

A book, where you write with a pen or pencil onto paper:  Write in a book that is not so pretty you are afraid to write in it. Keep the size small enough you don't mind carrying it in your messenger bag, and big enough you can read your handwriting. Do not try journaling at night when the only paper you have on your bedside table is a bandaid. The next morning I couldn't read my writing on the band-aid, and the idea I wanted to journal was lost.

The advantage of pen to paper is you can write without having to be plugged into an electronic device. You don’t have to worry about a dead battery, and you can write even when the sun is bright or the airline makes you turn off your electronic devices.

The disadvantage to a paper journal is if you lose the journal and you didn’t make a copy of it, you have lost all of the writing. But either way, the journal writing helps you pay attention and record the moments of everyday life that will fade with time otherwise.

Software: There are several software applications and journaling apps on the market you can use to keep a digital journal. Be sure they sync to the cloud, as you don’t want to lose your entries because you fry your computer's hard-drive. 

Journey and Day One can add photographs and text, and export all of your entries into a PDF. You can also journal in Google Docs,  Microsoft Word, or Scrivener and save your files to a cloud-based program that will keep your files safe if you lose your computer or pour water on your keyboard.

2. Date your entry

You think you will remember when it happened, but without a written date, you might forget. Make it a part of your journal writing routine to date the entry.

3. Tell the truth

The journal is a record of how you felt and what you did. Telling the truth will make you a reliable storyteller.

If you haven’t cleaned the seven litter boxes for a week, don’t write that you clean them every day simply because you want your readers one hundred years from now to think you had good habits. The beauty of journal writing is that you can record things honestly for yourself that you might not otherwise record or share. 

4. Write down details

Record details like the time, location, who you were with, and what you were wearing. Details will help bring the memory alive when you record using your five senses .

To this day, if I smell a certain kind of Japanese soup, I can remember vividly the day I flew to Korea to renew my Japanese visa, only to discover the Japanese embassy was closed for a traditional Japanese holiday.

5. Write down what you felt

What you were thinking? Were you mad? Sad? Happy? Write down why.

6. Write a lot or a little

A journal entry doesn’t have to be three pages long. It can be a few words that describe what happened, a few sentences about the highlight of your day, or it can be a short description of an event from your day, where you describe details to help you remember what happened. What time of day was it? What sound do you remember?

Your journal entry might be a drawing, a poem, or a list of words or cities you drove through. It is your journal, and you have the freedom to be creative.

You can use journal writing prompts or simply tap into a memory that floats into your mind. 

Bonus tip: How to write a journal entry

Aside from the date, you can write your journal entry in a number of ways. You can write stream-of-consciousness, try bullet points written rapid fire, you can use various art materials, or any form that speaks to you.  Try a list or a mix of writing and doodling, or even dialogue exchanges. 

The most important thing is just to take the journaling time and make a regular habit of it, even if it isn't on a daily basis. The words will show up when you do. 

When to Journal

There is no right or wrong time to write in a journal. Write when you will remember to do it. Do you always brush your teeth before you go to bed? Have writing in your journal be part of your bedtime routine. Perhaps put it on your bedside table, or beside your hammock, or on the floor beside your futon.

If you are a morning person, consider keeping your journal on the table where you drink your morning coffee, tea, water, milk, or orange juice.

These are only suggestions. You don’t have to write down your feelings or why you felt a certain way. I hate being told what to do. Even if it is a good idea. But I hope you'll give it a try and see if you find it unlocks your own writing. 

Do you write in a journal? Why is keeping a journal a valuable practice? Please tell us in the   comment s.  

Do you write in a journal? Do you think writing in a journal is a good idea for a writer, or a bad idea? Please tell us why in the comments .

Write for fifteen minutes about some aspect of your day as though you were writing in a journal. Your journal entry might be a drawing, a poem, a list of words, or a list of cities you drove through.

Please share your writing in the Pro Practice Workshop here and leave feedback on someone else’s practice today. We learn by writing and by reading.

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Pamela Hodges

Pamela writes stories about art and creativity to help you become the artist you were meant to be. She would love to meet you at .

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Saul Marchant

I found writing a journal to be a learning experience in itself. When I started, I soon realised I didn’t really know what I was trying to achieve. It seems obvious now but I had to keep at it a while for that to become apparent. Everyone has to find their personal journalling style. A few pointers certainly help, so thanks for your post. I completely agree about the sensory aspect. It’s not the result of a to-do list we’re writing, it’s shades of what gave meaning to our day.

Pamela Hodges

Hello Saul Marchant, I love your description, “shades of what gave meaning to our day.” So, not just a list, but what has meaning. Best, xo Pamela

Billie L Wade

I also like your “shades of what gave meaning to our day.” Sometimes I find myself lamenting that I want more meaning in my activities—as evidenced by my journal entry above. I need to remember that the purpose and the meaning come from my perspective of the experiences, in all the various colors and shades. Thank you.


I agree with Pamela I to love your description “shades of what gave meaning to our day. I think I fall more into a listing journalistic style but time has lead me to include more meaning as I progress.

Pamela, Thank you for a great article on journaling. I started out writing a diary when I was twelve years old, then moved into journaling as an adult, which I did for twenty years, and dropped off for about five years. I renewed my journaling practice in September 2002 and began daily journaling shortly after that. I record the date and time of the entry and number my pages. I am now on page 6515 (since 2002). Some days I journal just a paragraph—other days, I write up to ten pages. It depends on what is happening in my life, and how I am feeling. The time of day and my energy level also play a part—sometimes, I am too tired to write much, but I arrange my day so that I journal every day. I am in the process of reading previous entries and harvesting them for prompts for my fiction writing and blog posts. The depth and wisdom of some of my entries amaze me. Journaling enriches my life and allows me to process my feelings and emotions which contribute to my well-being.

Hello Billie L Wade, Thank you for sharing your journaling experience. I love the idea of numbering the pages. I regret not keeping a journal when I lived in Tokyo, I have some of my letters a friend saved, but there is so much I don’t remember. Would you like to share a short excerpt from when you were twelve, or something more recent, in the comment section on The Write Practice? xo Pamela

Hi Pamela. Unfortunately, I no longer have my journaling prior to 2002 (long stories). The following entry is indicative of a frequent experience with me in which I start out with with a challenge, problem, or issue and come to some resolution by the end of the session. This entry spans pages 6447-6449. This is not edited except to remove names of people. Thank You.

Monday, 3/20/17, 9:38 p.m. I’ve been afraid I’ll die before I’m ready, before I feel fulfilled, before I’ve done what I want to do, before I’m successful, before I’m “self-actualized,” before I’m joyous. At the same time, I hear of young people—22, 35, 38—with plans and futures and young children, dying of cancer and strokes. I’m 67. I’ve lived to see my son grow into adulthood. Really puts things into perspective. I’m not financially wealthy, but I have enough—my bills are paid; I have life, car, renters, health, and supplemental insurance; I have food; I enjoy dining out with friends; I can afford my medications; I have a car; I have books and magazines to read; I can think and feel and love; I can see and hear; I have my natural teeth; I have a new cell phone; I have leather-bound journals and hand-crafted pens; I drink bottled water that is delivered to me; I live in a beautiful apartment with a nice, green view; if I’m frugal, I can afford a few extras each month. I have people in my life who care about me; by many standards, I’ve had three successful careers, I’m educated and articulate; I can taste and smell and feel the sensuousness of touch; I can write; I have challenging projects to work on; I have a therapist who “gets” me and respects me; I have [my family]. The future is uncertain—always has been—and I sometimes feel frightened when I hear the prospects. I read an article within the past few days in which the author wrote something similar to “our acceptance and behavior in the present moment are predictors of our future.” When I am joyful and grateful and fully alive in the present moment, I have a better chance that I will do so in the future. The more I cultivate an attitude of gratitude, faith, and hope today, the more likely I will feel those attitudes in the future. And, how great it would be to die as [my partner] did—with joyful anticipation and expectancy; with gratitude; with hope; in peace. I can feel fulfilled every day by bringing acceptance and awareness and appreciation to everything I do.

Susan W A

…exquisite … and inspiring

thank you for your gift of words and reflection

Thank you Susan.

Amanda Niehaus-Hard

I started keeping a journal in the third grade, after reading “Harriet the Spy.” I have a drawer full of them, dated and numbered, and I get them out to browse whenever I’m working on a kids story or something YA. It’s a great resource for me to be able to see how a twelve year old mind worked. I’m so glad I kept them. My five year old keeps a drawing journal of the things he sees during the week, which I hope will eventually grow into something he does for a lifetime.

Hello Amanda Niehaus-Hard, Wow! How exciting to have writing from when you were twelve. I am happy you kept them too. What a treasure. A drawing journal is a great idea, a way to journal for children who might not be writing yet. If you would like to, please share a short excerpt from one of your third grade journals with the date, and/or one of your child’s drawing, if they don’t mind. All my best, xo Pamela

Hi Amanda, I am impressed that you have your journaling from age twelve, organized so you can easily use them. Everything I wrote before 2002 was destroyed, and I miss not having all of my writing. I am glad you can use your journaling to inform what you are writing now. Happy writing to you.

Abhijato Sensarma

Hi, I did not want to do it this way, but this is regarding my guest post submission idea that I proposed on 31st March. I got the email of confirmation from the automatic mailing system, but did not recieve any manual response for the idea that I had submitted. What has brought me here today is that just six days later, a guest post was published on this very website titled “Show, Don’t Tell : How to Inject Drama Into Your Writing.” This did not seem to be a coincidence, since when I read the article, most of it seemed to be derived from the idea that I had proposed to you, and got no response to. I wrote another email, and that too has not recieved a reply regarding the state of my query. I know that this is not how this matter is appropriately resolved, but since I have got no response from your side, I am becoming both ancious and disappointed. The publication of the guest post resembling my idea might have been a coincidence, albeit a strange one. But the fact that I have recieved no response troubles me. All of us are writers here, and I think that beyond a moment of doubt, all of us would agree that it isn’t in the best interest of the art of writing and all the virtues which come with it. Again, I know this is not the way things are supposed to be dealt with, but right now, I seem to have no other option left to retrieve the creative right over what is beyond a doubt my own idea, credited to someone else right now. Thanking you, and hoping for a legitimate response, Abhijato. (I would have provided my email here, but I do not want any spam. I request you to kindly respond to my enquirery.)

Marieca Lashawn

Great article. I have tried in the past to journal but have never kept it up. Perhaps my life is not interesting enough or I’m not disciplined enough to form the habit. I’m going to start again and not put so much pressure on myself thanks to this article.

Hello Marieca Lashawn, I don’t journal every day either. I treasure the journals I have from my trip to Europe in 1978. It never occurred to me that every day life also had value. I am going to start again too. We don’t have to be perfect, and there are no rules to keeping a journal. I will floss all of my teeth, and write something every day. A new habit for me too. xo Pamela

Hello Marieca; I think one for the reasons I journal is that I feel I don’t have to be interesting. Sometimes years go by before I reread what I have written. Some is boring, so what? Now if I am writing a story, and article or a memoir,, I try to be literate and interesting. But journaling, hey the pressure is off and at least I am writing.

Jacqueline Gu

The great travel writer Tim Cahill just taught a writing class in Morocco, which I was part of .. and the biggest take away I got (he said if you only remember one’s this) : “take copious notes” (as life happens, whether traveling or whatnot). Great post and in the exact same vein as Mr. Cahill’ instructions!

Hello Jacqueline Gu, Morocco, how fun. A writing class with Tim Cahill. “Take copious notes.” I love this. It is worthy of a tattoo. Or at least writing it on my chalkboard. Thank you for sharing your adventure, and the lessons you learned. Now I will look up Tim Cahill, I am not familiar with his work. Do you have a favorite book written by him? What book do you recommend I read first? What do you like to write? xo Pamela p.s. Where in Morocco were you? I was Casablanca in 1989 talking photographs for a Japanese client.

Hi Pam – nice to meet you. always great to be acquainted with a fellow writer. I’m reading Tim’s “Pass the Butterworm” but I also heard good things about “Hold the Enlightenment”. I do creative nonfiction/travel/memoir writing but I haven’t shared my stuff with many ppl yet so i’m working on becoming published. I was in Fez/Moulay Idriss/Sahara/Chefchouwen for my 2 week trek in Morocco. So much material (so much copious notes) now to write from! And 1989? That’s awesome – sounds like a trip too! Did you ever write about Morocco?

Cheers to you Pam! I will look up your blog and url now. Jackie

Writing a journal is the only consistent form of writing I have done for the past few years. My journal consists of Writing down which of my 12 daily disciplines I have accomplished and which ones are left to do. I began this practice when I retired and found my days slipping by without accomplishing much and giving into a lifelong leaning towards depression. After some time I changed the disciplines around and found the exercise helped me in many ways. Life, however intervened and heart attacks, strokes, and major moves intervened in the practice since my life priorities changed. So to the twelve disciplines I added a daily description of the foods I eat in a day; the physical activity and exercise I have done; and a spiritual insight along with five things for which I am grateful on each specific day. Today’s post is timely, because I was thinking the practice was getting me nowhere; but I think I will continue since so many successful writers do journal. Thanks for the timely post.


I like the sound of daily disciplines. Life has begun to slide recently. A reformed depressive, a serial dropper outer, I love writing but have not allowed myself to recently, ditto dancing and yoga. I love lists and the daily disciplines sound list like, something with a big tick beside it to feel like achievements until they build up into something big and can count as such. I used to blog and make copious entries and notes and have let that slide too. So thanks for the timely post and for contributions, and here’s to getting back to good habits.

Hello Maryjhowell, Yes, here’s to getting back to good habits. There is a yoga class I keep meaning to get to, I am a serial do it tomorrower. Wishing you all the best, and hope you find time to dance, stretch and journal. Please share your url for the next blog post you write, as you find your way back to yourself. xo Pamela

Hello retrogeegee, I love the name you use here, very creative. I hope you are feeling well, I am sorry to hear you have experienced heart attacks and strokes. Thank you for sharing how you write in our journal with your daily disciplines. What did you eat today? Today I will also write down five things I am grateful for. Sometimes I lean towards depression too, exercise has helped me. Looking at what is good in my life will help too. Thank you for sharing your life. I appreciate your honesty. xo Pamela

Mary Derksen

I have kept a diary since childhood, although those are long gone. It was a good habit, and I have been journaling since I am an adult. Now I am writing Our Story – 45 years in Japan – and some details that I needed were in there. My son thought the dog under our house gave birth to eight puppies. I checked my journal – it was only six! I have separate loose page journals for the visits we made to our missionary kids in Zaire (now Congo), and the ones in Nepal volunteering for six years with MCC. Wonderful memories preserved.

Hello Mary Derksen, The journals sound really helpful in remembering details. “45 Years in Japan”, sounds like a great title for a memoir. I lived in Tokyo for seven years, and wish I had kept a journal when I was there. What happened to the puppies? That must have been a fun memory. Hope you are well. So nice to meet you and hear of your and your children’s adventures. xo Pamela

Cheryl Sams

Hi Pam, great inspiring article. I have been journal writing and keeping diaries for years. For some reason I started this practice in the 5th grade. I went back to read the first entry in this diary hoping to find why I started this practice, but unfortunately I didn’t write the reason Why. You are right, journaling helps people keep personal records of their life. Mine have taken me from grade school to high school, to college. Through dating, marriage, kids, divorce, death and now back to a long term relationship, that I could probably turn into a never ending novel.. Some things that were too painful to write about, I put them in these journal writings as short stories to make it seem as if these were things that happened to someone else. To date I have 38 diaries/journals. Most recently I started a journal for my writing ideas and a personal one for my everyday happenings. So really I now have 40 journals.

Hi Cheryl, Yes, our journals get us through so much. Mine are a constant repository of self-nurturing as I wrestle with the gamut of feelings and emotions, challenges and resolutions. Rereading my entries validates my perseverance and resilience. I am up to 18 journals now, lots more to go. Best to you.

Thank you Billie, all the writing instructors always say write daily. So when I’m not writing on a story, I make it a habit to write something in my journals. So that’s my way of writing everyday.

Hello Cheryl Sams, Your approach of writing the hard parts of your story as short stories is a great idea. A record of what happened, but keeping the pain in the third person. I hope your story has more sunshine in it today, and in your tomorrows. I wonder what your 5th grade self thought. How special that you have all of your journals. Wishing you all my best. xo Pamela

Sorry to get back to you so late Pam, but you had me wondering about what did I write about in my first diary. Well I dug it out of my pile of journals, and my first entry was dated January 1, 1979. I introduced my immediate family, my grandmother, mom, aunt, uncle, stepdad, siblings and half siblings, and my 5year old cousin. It was the deep south and on that day it was windy, wet, cold, and there was a chance of snow. Christmas vacation was over and I was ready to go back to school. I didn’t want to be at home, school was more exciting(I stayed in a very rural area). Well I caught a cold and I was miserable, and I stated “I’m tired of writing now, I’m going to bed.” Well I guess I went to bed for a very long time, because my next entry was dated January 1984 and I was in college getting ready to go out on a date with an upperclassman. This was a one year diary, but I wrote in it throughout the years. My last entry Jan.2016. I updated my life. Three more pages left in this 38 year old diary. So I’m going to finally close it out on a very positive life update. Just needed to share. thanks.

Kristine Adams

Yes! Creativity doesn’t recognize boundaries or rules! I write, am an artist too, many mediums for both. I think it’s a pretty healthy, natural condition. Haven’t had the rich overseas experiences, but lived in a good many U.S. states and Canada, amassed 37 addresses so far, leaving fingerprints and/or words/artwork in my wake. Many journals created, some with people whose names I’ve forgotten but whose sketched faces I recognize. Hope to check in with you often. Cheers! 😀

wow … “whose sketched faces I recognize.” … I can just imagine the lovely nature of your journal with sketches intertwined with your written thoughts.

Definitely do come back to The Write Practice to visit … it’s a welcoming place, as is Pamela Hodges’ wonderful website!

Thx Susan. I’m a fan of The Write Practice, visited Pam’s site as well. My site’s a bit wonky at present–but c’mon over if you don’t mind stepping over the mess! { }

I thought I might have been making a wrong assumption based on your “check in” phrase. Nevertheless, I’m glad I commented and got your response so I could visit your website. LOVELY! Looks like you do remarkable, meaningful work. Loved, for instance, reading the glowing feedback from your memoir workshop participants. I’ll visit again.

Sorry for delay- my digital myopia caused lapse in finding your note. Have not yet launched newsletter but hope to find reliable tech soon! What’s your writing?

Hello Kristine Adams, Love your description of leaving fingerprints in your wake. Words and artwork. You have lived in a lot of places, so many memories. Where in Canada? I grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Hugs to you. xo Pamela

Sorry for delay- email folder used w/ Write Practice exchange was misplaced. I lived just into southern Ontario–first near Petrolia, and later near Sarnia. Shared communal houses with friends who now are in B.C. Wow, with our bogus potus, Canada’s appeal is skyrocketing!

shiwangi agarwal

I absolutely LOVE this article. I’ve been writing journals since i was a kid but quit writing for a very long. I’ve again started to write down my journals. It’s the best thing I’ve discovered. I’m more aware of my thoughts and myself now. It’s the best practice for a winter of any sort. Be it a beginner or a published author. I’m not sure if I want to share it with anyone but i just enjoy the whole process of writing my journal

Hello shiwangi agarwal, Thank you for confirming that journal writing has helped you be more aware of your thoughts. You don’t have to share your thoughts. I like having a private place to write and think. Now to find a safe spot to hide a key, where no one else will find it and I can remember where I put it. xo Pamela

gemma feltovich

This doesn’t relate to this post, but feedback is greatly appreciated.

Mara shivered, pulling her ratty, practically obsolete sweater closer around her torso. Tevrah was cold this time of year. And drizzly. A drop of rain landed on her nose, freezing and unexpected. She wished she had warm pants instead of her school dress and her mother’s cardigan.

Her younger brother, Deo, tugged on her hand and pulled her off-course toward a stand selling jewelry. A young woman was standing behind the tables, smiling benevolently at her customers. She eyed Mara and Deo. “We don’t have long,” Mara warned him in their language, trying to smile innocently at the shopkeeper. It wasn’t as if they were going to steal something, but they certainly had the stink of poverty around them, accentuated especially by their thin, dark features. Deo’s hair was sticking up all over the place, his face the only inch of cleanliness on his body. Their mother was quite persistent about the need for washing your face twice a day, even if nothing else was clean. “It is important to make a good impression,” she had warned. Mara could only imagine what the people of this town thought of her and Deo, as she surely looked just the same as her six-year-old brother. She wished she hadn’t disregarded the necessity of neatness that morning. Every sort of person on earth could be observed in this market. The rich, the seedy, the fine, the poor, the gaudy, the drab. And Mara and Deo looked like beggars.

She still had a few coins left in the pockets of her sweater. Her bag was filled with day-old bread, bruised apples, and several rolls of bandages. They still hadn’t found someplace selling sponges for cheap, which was unfortunate since the younger kids cried when you scrubbed them with the rougher brush. And that was Mara’s job. She would have taken a used oil cloth by now to avoid Skya Menyon’s sharp glance whenever she heard the wail of her toddler, who was the whiniest child Mara had ever met.

It had been her job back at the village, at least three hundred kilometers from Tevrah’s town of North Market. They were three hundred kilometers from the place Mara had never left in her life– until now. The people were different here, even not so far away. The area was drizzly and brown and green, filled with grays. The people here had lighter hair, while the skin on Mara’s arm was dark as a macadamia nut’s shell. Her village was all but disappeared, nothing but ashes on the gods’ gentle breeze.

The day after the fires, the women of the village had shorn their hair to shoulder length, Mara included since her fifteenth birthday had passed two weeks prior. She wasn’t used to it. She liked to twirl strands of her hair, mindlessly twist them together as a nervous habit, and with it so short it was hard to wrap her black locks around her index finger. She kept reaching up only for her hand to stop short and sink back down to her side.

Deo was gawking at a gold necklace. The shopkeeper’s hawk eyes stayed locked on him, drawn as a moth to a flame. She was clearly suspicious. “Deo,” Mara hissed. He barely looked up.

“What?” he muttered. “Stop it.”

Mara tugged him a few feet away from the necklace, the shopkeeper still watching them. “Stop looking at that like you’re going to grab it.”

“I wasn’t going–” “She doesn’t know that!” Mara protested. Deo frowned, looking at his grubby hands curiously.

“Is it time for lunch yet?”

“Deo!” she chastised. The woman had begun to emerge from behind the booth. Mara turned toward her, widening her eyes. “Yes?” she inquired politely, switching to Tevranian for the shopkeeper’s sake.

“You kids like my jewelry?” she demanded.

Mara smiled shakily. “I apologize, miss, but my brother, he is not so smart,” she said, patting Deo’s hair and shushing his protests with a hand over his mouth. She tried to adjust the bag on her hip so the woman could peer into it and see there was nothing out of the ordinary inside.

“Oh?” the woman said, raising an eyebrow.

“He does not know how much the necklace does cost, you see?”

She grunted again.

“The cost is too much for us, anyway, because you see–” Mara saw something out of the corner of her eye. A glint of silver. A flash of crimson red. She stopped short, aware of the shopkeeper’s eyes trained on her dubiously. A girl had slipped in behind the stand, wearing vibrant red pants and a gray shirt, hair that must have been white as ivory when it was clean hanging in strands down her back.

“Yes?” the woman prompted.

“Yes…” Mara forced herself to look away. “I, um, we were not taking the necklace.” The fair-haired girl’s hand danced out of her pocket and hooked the bracelet onto a finger. She stuffed it into her overcoat.

Mara stared for a second before coming to her senses. “Hey!”

The shopkeeper whirled around. “What–”

The girl’s green eyes darted up to meet her accuser’s, and then she nimbly slipped into the crowd, that white hair a blur behind her. Mara began to run after her, leaving Deo and the shopkeeper behind, but stumbled over a man’s shoe. He sneered at her. “S-sorry,” she stammered. “Sir.”

A warm, dry hand grasped Mara’s hand in its grip. She looked down to see Deo staring up at her, his hair wet from the rain. “Deo,” she said , trying to see over the crowd’s heads, “go… go find Thyme and Yuri.” She shoved the basket of goods into his hands.

He began to whine, but Mara was already gone. She darted around a fruit cart, a few berries falling to the ground as she bumped it. The boy selling the fruits cursed at her in a language she didn’t understand. Mara kept going. Where had that girl gone? And why hadn’t she yelled “Thief!” and left other people to take care of it?

She was an idiot, Mara reminded herself, that’s why.

She tripped over her own shoes, a size and a half too large, not once but twice. Her gray dress was small on her, barely modest as it ended a few inches above her knees. The only reason Mara could get away with it was because she didn’t look her age. She’d kept a bit of baby fat, and she hadn’t shot up like a bamboo stalk. At least, not yet.

Ah. Under that bridge over there, stretching across the rushing river below, its banks mossy and wet. Mara saw a flash of blonde hair and those strange red pants the girl was wearing before she took off again. By now, the rain was coming down hard, clumping Mara’s dark eyelashes together and blurring her vision. She stumbled over the muddy ground beyond the market, the sounds of the city disappearing from her ears, and ducked under the cover of the old bridge.

It was quiet but for the sound of rain pattering the stone above.

“Hello?” Mara called out softly. There were no footprints in the mud leading off into the forest on the other side of the tunnel, but she couldn’t see where else the girl could have gone. Perhaps she’d disappeared, like in the Yaba’s stories back home. “Hello?” Mara said again, louder this time. She took a tentative step forward, then froze in her tracks when a voice responded.

“It’s not worth that much.”

Mara startled, whirling around. No one. “What?”

“The bracelet,” the voice explained. “Didn’t cost as much as that lady was selling it for.”

“Ay.” Mara didn’t know what to say to an invisible person. The distant sounds of shouting salesman only just reached her ears.

“You can leave and pretend this never happened.”

Mara seethed. “No.”

“Why not?” the disembodied voice challenged.

“You took it!”

“I stole something deserving of a halved coin.”

“What in ny anaran’Andriamanitra is a half coin?” Mara retorted. She wrung the rainwater out of her hair, and it splattered on her already-soaked dress, hanging limp around her knees. She wasn’t sure where to look, as she couldn’t see the person she was talking to.

“Oh, you know.” Mara didn’t. “A copper. Not even a single silver. She was marking it three times its worth.” They didn’t have much of silver where Mara was from.

“And who are you,” Mara said, “to judge?”

“And who are you?” the voice echoed.

“I–” Mara started, then cut herself off. “You are a criminal.”

“Hm.” The girl’s body dropped from the top of the bridge, and she landed perfectly balanced, wearing that red sweater and brown, unfitted pants. Mara stumbled back, surprised at the girl’s entrance, and almost tripped over a rock behind her. “I disagree,” the girl said.

“Are quite good at climbing things,” the girl said. She stared at Mara unblinkingly, her green eyes startling against the gray of the day. A gust of wind picked up her wispy blonde hair on its wings. “I’ll tell you what. You let me go, I’ll give you this bracelet.”

“That is not a deal!” Mara said, indignant. “You took it! Here is the idea: give it back and I will not… tell. Tell the police.”

The girl chuckled, flashing a crooked smile, dimples appearing at the corners of her mouth. “Let me guess. You aren’t from around here?”

Hello, Pamela. Nearly every journal I’ve ever written starts with, “Well, I’m not good at journal writing, but I’ll try again” or some such lame thing, and invariably that entry is followed by a handful of dated entries, followed by some more six months or six years later. I try to let go of that feeling of “defeat before I’ve even started” because what’s the point? I tell myself, “Let go of thoughts of perfection because it ain’t coming to my doorstep any time soon.”

I’m going to include here an entry in my journal from the month after my mother passed away in 2014. I’m guessing that I was using your writing style as part of my inspiration because I included a level and type of detail that I may not have previously.

I was reflecting on why I am thankful. It reads, …

The piece I’m going to start with is the sweet gesture that Mehrzad [my husband] made yesterday, showing me his deep love and such a respectful honoring of Mom. We sold her car yesterday at Carmax [2003 Lexus ES 300 silver/light blue, “wood” steering wheel and other trim areas, 40,708 miles bought for about $30,000 new – mom’s decision with no consultation – sold for $7,000] Carmax gave us back the license plate [NWSTOY] and license plate frames [“I’d rather be stitching”]. I’m thinking, “OK, What do we do with these? Should we keep them? No, we’re trying to declutter not reclutter.” A bit later on, Mehrzad lovingly says, “Shall we hang these up in the garage? It’s part of your mom’s life and we want to keep that history. We’ll need to find a place to hang it.” WOW! … THANKFUL! —- [I just now took a picture of the license plate on our pegboard in the garage to include here, but I guess an upload option is not included; forgot that.] —– As always, I’m thankful for you, Pamela.

Hello Susan WA, Thank you for sharing the excerpt from your journal about your mom. The detail about the car, including the milage brought me emotionally into the story. Life is made up of concrete details. Little bits of reality that allow me the reader to feel the story. I am so sorry your mom died. And, so thankful to read of the kindness of your husband who hung the license in the garage. So nice to hear from you Susan. I am thankful for you also. xo Pamela

One of my biggest heartaches is that I accidentally threw out a notebook that I thought was empty … turns out it was my son’s reflections on quotes from when he was in 8th grade … it was a daily exercise by his history teacher, a man who inspired my son deeply, and is his favorite teacher of all time. Love those amazing connections when a teacher has such an impact on a student’s life.


Hi, Pamela! Here is a way to have both the handwritten and the electronic record:

I haven’t tried this system, but it looks pretty interesting. I also like the idea of using Scrivener. I prefer to journal with pen and paper, but am currently doing a hybrid: early morning brain dump online at , and then a notebook and my pretty new purple fountain pen throughout the day.

Hi GirlGriot, So nice to see you here! Thank you for the suggestion to combine the handwritten and the electronic. Maybe I need to get a pretty purple fountain pen too. Something to remind me to take notes on my life. I will check out the 750 words site, and dump out my brains too. Hope you are well. xo Pamela

(FYI, 750 words is a paid site now. Not sure what it costs. I joined when it was free and was grandfathered in when they switched over.)

Hello TerriblyTerrific, You could always swallow the key. (This is meant to be funny, and is not a real suggestion, in case you do swallow the key, and then want to hire a lawyer and say we told you to eat a key) How old is your daughter? Maybe she needs to find a safe spot to hide her journal. 🙂 xo Pamela

Elizabeth Mc Kenna

I started writing journals when my children grew up and went to college. I felt lost in myself and wanted to get the emotions out of my system. I then began to cycle long distances with some friends. We cycled from coast to coast in various countries including Australia, Vietnam; parts of Europe and the Himalayas. I have recently been expanding some of my journals and one thing I noticed is that, throughout all the scary parts of the journeys; when we thought we were in dire states, someone came out of the blue and saved the day. When the bike broke, when we ran out of food or water on the mountains, or when we had no shelter. I call them the Angels on my journeys all of which I am deeply thankful for.

The journal in 2014 helped me deal with a lot of sudden deaths of close family and friends, there was almost one a month that year. When I look at that year I realise we are all challenged and no matter how hard that challenge with a bit of help we can get through it. Journals can be lifesavers reminding us to be grateful and how lucky we are.

Hello Elizabeth McKenna, You have lived some amazing adventures. I love your perspective on how “journals can be lifesavers reminding us to be grateful and how lucky we are.” I am sorry about the sudden deaths of family and friends in 2014. That sounds like a hard year. Sending you hugs and sunshine, xo Pamela

Carol Anne Olsen Malone

In Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way,” she teaches her students to writing their “Morning Pages,” as a way to get back their creativity. Sometimes they are referred to as our “Mourning Pages,” because we mourn the ills of our life. I wrote faithfully for about a year then quit. It’s something that cleansed the soul and helped me dig down deep to the heart of my frustration with a certain family members and clear out some junk. Journalling is so important to our mental health and to bring us clarity. It can help us clear our mental blocks to our creativity as well. Thanks for the post.

Shauna Bolton

April 20, 2008

We had breakfast with Uncle Jerry today after church. He made waffles, and we brought the side dishes: sausage, fried potatoes, cheese soufflé, and crunchy cantaloupe. It was nice to be together. He’s having more trouble with his breathing, but he isn’t taking any treatments for it. He’s refused what treatment the doctors have offered, although for his condition—interstitial lung disease—there really isn’t much they can do. He is allowing the disease to run its course. It’s strange seeing it happen to him because I know that I will follow soon.

In truth, I’m simply afraid. I have always had a horror of drowning, of suffocation, of being unable to breathe. Since I’ve got late-stage pulmonary hypertension, that’s exactly how I’ll die: one gasp at a time. I might get lucky, though. People with this disease often die of sudden cardiac death. The heart just stops, and they’re dead before they hit the ground. I like Door Number 2 much better than Door Number 1.

frederick schinkel

“Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.” Love that. Must try it, but I need to be ‘plugged in’. I thought I’d never write again after the shakes got me. Now I can even read my writing!


Hello Pamela, Many thanks for your article on keeping a journal. Very handy. I wrote a journal in the past, for a year, when I was grieving. There was no one to confide in, and writing my feelings and the events that filled my day, brought a little solace. Now I write daily, (in longhand, in a small blue booklet) to record my husband’s medication, (the names of his medicines and the hour in which he took them) his moods, and in brackets, a little about myself. The journal is a verification of what we did. My husband contests me on many things, declaring that ‘we did not’. Out comes my journal to satisfy his verification. I’m glad I recorded it on paper. In the blue booklet, I write the day, then the date, and below, the weather and mean temperature. I record where we went and why, like, shopping for shoes, meat, presents, etc:. I write of guests who came to lunch or to visit.

I write a line about Minnie and her friends. Yesterday I recored that she vomited… a bunch of grass.

Please give our love to Harper and the users of the other six litter boxes.

With love, Lilian


I love journaling and have even taught journal workshops. It is what helps untangle my thoughts and make sense of life. I make a practice of re-reading (currently once a week). That’s when I’m reminded of things I need to follow up on. It’s about the only time I use paper and pencil now, which really sets it apart from all other activities.

Lindsey Wigfield

Great article. I took a trip to Europe a few years ago and I was so happy when I came across my travel journal. All the details that I had forgotten are in there! I’ve now converted to a digital journal since it’s accessible from anywhere and I usually have my phone on me to jot down entries when I have a few minutes. (Disclaimer: I blog for JRNL.)


I have an urgent need to journal, and I do so, but always with a feeling of trepidation because am afraid my kids will judge me poorly when I’m gone. Haven’t committed crimes or anything like that but am somehow ashamed of the strong feelings of insecurities that come up again and again. But I need very much to write them. Anyone else have this problem?

Rose Kayani

Yes. I sometimes feel like you as well. That is why, I write a lot and then get rid of it. This helps me with my self awareness. When you write everything down as true as it has happened and you read back to yourself, you somehow judge yourself and that would become very valuable to you for many reasons. 1) you might realise, it was not as important, good or bad or even important as you first thought. 2) You can realise what went wrong or right in that occasion and you might have the opportunity to make it better or try to accept it and draw a line under it. 3) you have become your own best imaginary friend whom you can talk to in confidence and get help without any worry of it going further or be judged. The list of benefits are endless and can go on and on and on, but I am sure, you got the gist of it. 🙂


I love this articular because it explain how writing journals makes you a better writes. it help you express your emotions also your daily lifestyle. I never really writing a journal before but I starting to write down my thought in my journal. it’s the best way to practice writing or express yourself for example I wake up seven in the mourning eat breakfast brush my tooth and wash my face.I get dress walk out the front door to wait at the bus stop.

Louis Chew

Journaling leads to growth, which is especially important for a writer. Benjamin Franklin had the habit of keeping a journal, which helped him to become healthy and wealthy:

Judy Peterman Blackburn

Great post. I have journaled ever since junior high and maybe even a bit earlier. As time goes on I think I’m writing down better things, descriptions and such and digging deep into my real feelings about things and life. It’s a good way to explore and figure out who I am and what I’m thinking. 🙂


I started journaling few months ago and I think it really improved my mental health a bit lol. Usually, I write at night and sometimes, I forget what just happened hours ago (which I have to reopen my gallery to find some specific photos that have to do with my “day”). Anyways, it’s a great and a helpful article btw!


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The 52 Book Club

How To Create A Book Journal

how to write book journal

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One of the best things to happen to my reading-life was a book journal. I find immense satisfaction in finishing a book and recording it in my tracker. Not only is it a great way to document my reads and goals from year to year, seeing those books listed out on a page helped motivate me to read more and to try new genres.

While you may find it easier to track reads on something easily searchable (like a word document, excel spreadsheet, or a website like Goodreads ), there’s also something really fun about a physical, paperbound journal. Not only is it more personal, you can also get really creative with it.

Ready to give it a try? Here are four, easy steps to creating your book journal.

A stack of opened, blank journals on a white background.

1. What type of journal should I pick?

So, how does one create a book journal? Starting off, you’ll first want to decide how you want to record your reads. Let’s start by looking at some journal options:

  • Pre-Designed Book Journals: There are a ton of pre-designed, book journals out there. The benefit of these is that they’re simple to use and ready to go. The downside is that you may not be able to customize it as fully as a blank journal. You may find that there’s wasted space you don’t use, or that it doesn’t have all the questions you’d like. Make sure you preview what’s offered and decide what you’re looking for (see tip 2) before purchasing. Examples of pre-designed book journals include: Read Harder (A Reading Log) from Book Riot, The Book Lover’s Journal , or this gorgeous looking Reading Journal from Kunitsa Co .
  • A lined journal: These are your basic lined journals available at most bookstores, stationery stores, or online. This is what I personally use for tracking my reading. The benefits are that you can fully customize the journal, and it’s super easy for writing. This is probably the simplest option when it comes to creating a custom book journal.
  • A dot journal: Dot journals are even more flexible when it comes to designing your own book journal. If you’re looking to include charts, graphs, or a “bullet journal” style book log, the dots make for easy customization.
  • A journal with blank pages: If you love drawing, collage, or want to try an even more creative approach to your book journal, then blank pages may be the way to go!

A pile of journals lay open on a white background.

2. Decide on a review format.

If you’re customizing a journal, now’s the time to decide what review format works for you. It can be as detailed or as simple as you like — whatever helps you track your reading!

Here’s are a list of things to potentially include in each review . Decide what’s important for your book journal:

  • author’s name
  • star rating
  • page number
  • personal thoughts
  • re-read or first time
  • audiobook, hardcover, e-reader, etc
  • why you chose the book
  • where you got the book from
  • how much you spent on the book
  • is it a series?
  • other books by this author that you’d like to read
  • anything else you feel is important

An open journal with book titles recording. Tracking annual reads.

3. Create the layout.

Now that you’ve picked a journal style and decided what you want to include, it’s time to lay it out.

  • One line per book : This is how I track my reading. Using a lined journal, I record one book per line. This means that I limit my format to book title, author’s name, and date read. I’ll also include the notation “ RR” on the side if the book is a re-read. This option is easy because you don’t have to prep the pages in advance, simply write it down!
  • Multiple books per page : This option allows for more flexibility. You’ll have extra room to add in more details, including some personal thoughts on the read. You can add as many or as few books as works for you. You can use different coloured pens, create charts, draw stars, etc. to personalize it further.
  • One book per page : This option allows you to review your book in greater detail, or to get more creative and add drawings, stickers, etc. Use markers or different coloured pens to make sections of the page pop.

Open journal with a bookshelf reading tracker

4. Create “special” pages.

Special pages are fun ways to keep track of other reading-related activities or ideas. In addition to tracking your current reads, you could also create space for things like:

  • your to-be-read pile
  • how often you’re reading (habit tracker)
  • books that specifically fit a challenge
  • books in a series
  • your reading goals for the year
  • reading stats

Above is an example of a fun way to track reads for specific challenges. I created this bookshelf on a giant, blank notebook. Each of the 52 books on the shelf were eventually filled in with my 52 Book Club — 2020 Challenge reads.

Below is an example of a habit tracker or a reading log. This is a fun extra page to keep in your journal because it allows you to quickly see how frequently (and for how long) you’re reading. This is a great motivator to sneak in a few extra minutes of reading wherever you can!

There are so many different types of special pages to choose from. Find what works for you and have fun with it!

An open journal with daily reading log - a suggestion to use when you create a book journal.


Don’t forget to think about what kind of PENS you’ll use in your brand new journal. Different tips, ink types, or colours can go a long way in creating the perfect book journal. Here are some of my personal favourites:

  • This .38mm, gel-ink ballpoint pen from MUJI.
  • These Tombow brush pens .
  • These hyper fine 0.25 ballpoint pens from Pilot.
  • This colourful set of Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens .

So there you have it. A simple start to your new reading adventures!

This is just one of the many different types of book journals and reading trackers out there. Find what works for you and most importantly, have fun!

Happy reading!

Have any other book journal recommendations! Be sure to drop your suggestions, tips, or ideas in the comments to share with other readers!

How to create a book journal Pinterest graphic with open journals on white background

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6 thoughts on “how to create a book journal”.

Pingback: How to Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - The 52 Book Club

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This was awesome. I’ve been feeling really inspired by doing this reading challenge for the first time in 2021. I opted into the Kunitsa Co. journal to be more intentional with my reading experience.

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Love that! I’m the type of person who really thrives off being intentional about my reading as well. Glad you’ve joined us!

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Interesting and added a few new ideas to my Readers Journal. Thank you for a fun group.

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Perfect tips to get started

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How to Journal

Your complete guide to getting started with journaling.

Do you want to learn how to journal, but are unsure where to start?  Or you want to know what to write in a journal?  Maybe you’ve heard of creative journaling and are curious what it is? Perhaps you’re a writer and want to journal to deepen your craft?

This comprehensive “How to Journal” article will answer all of your questions about journal writing. For example, what journal writing is, how you can use it, and what benefits you can experience from this type of writing.  It also includes many journal writing prompts to help you get started. Lastly, while journal writing is typically a solitary act, you don’t have to journal alone or in isolation.  This article will tell you where you can get some help and support for your journal writing, including being part of a journal writing community or group.

how to write book journal

This Article Covers:

What is Journal Writing?

What can i use journaling for.

  • How to Journal – What are the Benefits?
  • Getting Started with Journaling
  • Creating a Journal Writing Ritual
  • How to Journal – What To Write?
  • How Often Should I Write in my Journal?

Do You Need to Write Regularly in a Journal?

  • How To Journal Consistently –  Creating the Journaling Habit
  • How to Journal – What Help and Support Can I Get?
  • In Conclusion

image of person learning how to journal

Before we talk about how to journal, let’s look at what journaling is.

Journal Writing is the practice of taking time for yourself to write and reflect on your thoughts, feelings and life experiences.  There are many suggestions for how to journal and what to write about. However, the beauty of journal writing is you can do it in your own way. This means you can really make it your own creative and life enhancing practice.

There are lots of people who write in a journal.  I recently heard that 16% of the world’s population regularly writes in a journal. You could loosely test this claim yourself by asking a group of friends or family if they write in a journal and see what percentage say yes.

Each person will give a slightly different answer when asked, “What is journaling?” But in essence, journaling is the simple and profound act of capturing and understanding our lives through expressive writing and story. Expressive writing includes writing about our thoughts and feelings while gaining self-awareness and new discoveries along the way. Journaling is all about exploring and enriching life through narrative, words and creative self-expression through writing.

Journaling is…

  • a powerful tool for personal growth, self-discovery, improved health and creative self-expression
  • a fun and creative life enhancing practice
  • used by many successful people, including Oprah and Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul books), to achieve success in life and work

“Journal writing is one of the rare forms of writing in which freedom of form and content support each other magically.”   –  Stephanie Dowrick

You can use journal writing to get to know yourself better, solve problems, make life decisions, improve your health and increase feelings of gratitude and joy.  Journaling can also help you heal from stressful life circumstances, deal with grief and loss, or other life transitions. Or just journal for the pure love it!

Journaling is a fun, nourishing and creative practice that simply requires something to write with and write on. Whether it’s a pen and notebook, loose paper, cue cards, you get to choose your journaling tools!

People use journal writing in different ways for a variety of reasons. One person might journal to heal a broken heart writing an unsent letter sharing what they wish they’d said to that person.  Someone else might journal to celebrate their accomplishments and make a list of their recent successes in their journal.

There are also a wide variety of journaling methods and techniques to get the most out of your journaling. You can use it for whatever matters most to you at this time in your life.

How to Journal – What are the Benefits?

There are many evidence-based benefits of journal writing from over 30 years of research in the expressive writing field.  Yes, journal writing is a field of work!

People use the journaling process for many reasons, including to:

  • stimulate a healthier mind and body
  • vent and express thoughts and feelings in a healthy, constructive manner
  • increase self-awareness
  • create clarity for decision-making
  • track progress and personal growth
  • celebrate successes
  • heal emotional pain and trauma
  • increase self-care
  • manage stress and prevent burnout
  • gain broader and multiple perspectives
  • practice writing in a non-judgmental setting
  • improve creative thinking
  • preserve memories
  • get closer to God or a divine energy source

Today, journaling is widely accepted as a means for cultivating wellness as part of a whole person health approach. This includes the emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of well-being. Journaling is also being used across various disciplines, such as education, psychology, leadership, business, health, creative writing, coaching and counselling fields, as a powerful tool for learning and growth.

How to Journal – Getting Started

Get organized.

One of the first things to do when you start a journal is get your journaling tools organized.

It can be fun to pick out your favourite pen and an inspiring journal. Look online or go into any book, stationary or office supply store and you’ll find all kinds of journals, pens, markers and other things you might like to use in your journal such as stickers or other creative touches.

So over time, you can experiment with your journaling tools. Do you like blank pages or lined? Would you prefer a small journal or a large sketchbook style journal?  Would you use the same style journal or mix it up and try something new each time you begin a new one?

Sometimes people use loose leaf paper and put their journaling pages in a binder, or write small entries on cue cards. And some people even use big 18 x 24 pages of paper for larger visual journaling entries. You can create a mixed media art journal and much more.

Image of hand starting to write in journal

Just Write!

The key is to pick some simple journaling tools to start with – a pen and notebook – and just start writing.

Your writing will teach you what you need. For example, I used to write in a small lined journal and over the years, my writing longed for larger, open, clear spaces to fill. Now I use an 8 ½ by 11 blank page sketchbook, spiral bound and I keep my pilot pen in the spine of the journal.

Find your own tools and make your own way as you write. The only way to journal, is to write. And then write some more.

Whether you’re an avid journal writer, someone who journaled in the past, or have never written in a journal before:

“There is a Spanish proverb which says: there is no road, we make the road as we walk. I would say the same thing about journal writing: we make the path as we write.” Christina Baldwin

How to Journal – Creating Writing Rituals

What is a journaling writing ritual.

Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma & Emotional Upheaval , suggests some conditions that help enhance the expressive writing process.  His research shows that creating a journal writing ritual is very beneficial.

Being focused, non-judgmental, and connected to your interior world fosters deeper writing. But, it’s not a frame of mind that everyone can simply switch on and off.

The idea behind creating a ritual is to create a unique environment and/or behavior which helps you sink into the best journal writing mindset possible. The purpose of the ritual is to take you away from everyday life. Your ritual contains the cues you create for yourself which help you become relaxed, alert, and reflective.

How do you Create a Journal Writing Ritual?

Here are some suggestions, but remember, the ritual you create to transition into deeper journal writing is uniquely yours.

  • Select some music that creates a sense of serenity. Play it for five minutes, focusing on simply listening to the music. Consider closing your eyes. Do not read your mail or straighten out your desk! You may want to have just one piece of music you use each time as your centering pre-writing ritual. Or choose three or four pieces you love for some variety.
  • Begin with several minutes of a meditation or a prayer. You can write just for the occasion or create something spontaneously each time.
  • Brew a cup of tea or coffee, or pour yourself some fresh juice. Perhaps a glass of wine? Spend a few minutes holding the cup, feeling the warmth, smelling the aromas of your drink and deeply enjoy those sensations.

Write in an environment that’s inspiring for your journal writing

  • This could be by a bright and sunny window or a softly lit corner nestled in a cozy chair.
  • Light a candle and while lighting the candle say an affirmation, your intention or make a wish.

Journal at approximately the same time each day

  • This doesn’t have to be at the same hour each day, but it’s helpful if it’s at the same time in your daily routine. For example half an hour before bed, which will work whether you go to bed at 10pm or at midnight.

The trick, of course, is to find the cues that help you settle in quickly. Initially, experiment with different rituals to see which feels best and then stick with the practice once you’ve found one you like. Remember to use as many of your senses (smell, sight, touch, hearing and taste) as you can when creating your centering ritual.

Image of woman journaling to create a ritual for how to journal article

How to Journal – What To Write

You can write about anything you want to write about. For example write about your day including your thoughts, feelings, problems, challenges, upsets, joys, successes and dreams. Here are some journaling prompts to help you get started:

  • Right now, I am feeling…
  • In the moment, I notice…
  • Currently, I am thinking about…
  • So far, the best part about my week is…

You can also write about what you don’t want to write about—and explore your resistance!

Resistance offers you information about where you’re feeling stuck, perhaps procrastinating, or simply not quite sure how to proceed. Here are some journaling prompts to play with around resistance:

  • At the moment, I don’t really want to write about (and then write about it anyways)…
  • I am feeling resistant because…
  • If I wasn’t feeling resistant, what might be different in my life right now…

You can free write (simply go to the page and start writing) or you can do more structured journal writing activities such as using prompts.

There are many other journal writing techniques and methods such as mind maps, cluster drawings, dialogue writing, captured moments, poetic writing and more that you can learn about and use to keep your journal writing fresh and interesting.

Access our free 7 Servings of Journal Juice for new ideas on what to write about in your journal. And you’ll also receive journal writing prompts, exercises, tips and our inspiring Journaling Museletter .

How To Journal – How Often Should I Write

There are no rules about how often you should write in your journal. Like anything, the more often you do something that’s good for you, the more benefits you get from it. I doubt you would go for one walk around the block and expect to experience significant health benefits from it.

The same is true for journaling. While that one walk would have offered you ‘in the moment’ benefits like time to relax, feeling good from moving your body, fresh air and more, the same is true for journaling.

You could gain a sense of relief, renewal and replenishment from just 10 minutes of writing about your thoughts, feelings and life observations.

Journal Regularly

Much like any other activity that’s good for you like brushing your teeth, meditating or eating a healthy diet, journaling can also be done regularly. Journaling makes a great healthy daily habit.

Set a Timer

I often facilitate timed journal writing exercises in workshops and retreats that I offer. It’s a core part of my Transformational Writing for Wellness Salon , a 6 week group coaching program that takes people into the heart and art of transformational journaling.

So often people say, “I can’t believe how much I wrote in just 5 minutes” or “I can’t believe I gained new insights when I just wrote for 7 minutes!”

Journaling to Cope

Many people only write in their journals when they are going through difficult times. Then once things are going better, they stop writing. This is also a valuable way to use your journal as a life companion to help you cope during stressful or troubled times.

The key is not to get too caught up in “shoulds”: I should journal today, I should journal more often. That’s because ‘shoulds’ can open the door for negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy and shame. Instead, your journaling practice is best treated like a kind friend. You journal because you want to, and because it’s an enjoyable, or at least helpful, relaxing experience.

It’s a question that most journal writers face at some point. Does it matter if you write often in your journal? Well, whether you write regularly depends on your purpose for writing. Is it to preserve memories? To sort out issues? To track physical or emotional, spiritual, or intellectual progress? Track health symptoms?

If journal writing is pleasurable, then writing is its own reward. If journal writing becomes a task you “should” do, rather than something you enjoy, then you’ll write less consistently.

So part of the issue can be reframed by asking, ”How do I make journal writing pleasurable?” The answer to this question will help you find your own way to make journaling a consistent and enjoyable habit.

How To Journal Consistently –  Creating the Journaling Habit

Think of writing a journal entry as the lowest cost and highest benefit way of taking care of your health. Remember that writing about meaningful events or activities in your life has been proven to positively impact your overall health without major cost of time or money and without having to leave your home!

If you do want to write in your journal on a regular basis and truly create the journaling habit, here are a few ideas to help you keep writing consistently:

Make your journal writing more upbeat

  • Review the good things that have happened in your day—your attitude, your progress toward a goal, a minor victory, even a two-minute interaction with someone that went well.
  • Remind yourself about the good stuff in your life and your good qualities.

Write when you have difficult issues in your life that need to be resolved

  • Who doesn’t experience difficult times? Consider the time that you write in your journal as an oasis of self-nurturing in your day. It’s a time to vent, rant, reflect, and process just for you.

If possible, write at the same time every day

  • Incorporate your writing practice into a daily routine.

Make it short and fun!

  • Write a one-word journal entry that captures your day.
  • It’s a challenge to come up with that one word. You can think about it while you are doing some mindless life maintenance activity—like flossing your teeth, taking out the garbage, or folding clothes.
  • Then once you’ve determined that word, writing your journal entry takes almost no time.

Back to the question: Does it really matter that you write consistently?

Writing consistently helps you maintain your journaling practice. It means that when you re-read your journal, there are enough entries to have meaning and flow.

Your ability to write consistently in your journal will be determined by how you feel and doing what’s right for you. So, while you’re writing and when you finish, notice how you feel.

  • Did you like the process?
  • Were you feeling relaxed and soothed during or after writing?
  • Did you feel at times frustrated, angry, confused, despairing?

This whole spectrum of emotions is simply part of the process of journal writing. I know that I feel better most of the time after I write – like I’ve released a burden or relived a pleasurable part of my day.

How to Journal – What Help and Support Can I Get?

One of the best ways to learn more about how to journal is with the support of a like minded community. When we join with fellow journal writers there are regular opportunities to connect, learn and be inspired about journaling. People who like yoga connect in yoga communities, and the same is true for meditation, scrapbooking, running and more. There is a human instinct to find supportive communities who share our passion or interest, so we can learn and grow together.

At the IAJW, our journal writing community is for extroverts and introverts alike. Perhaps you want the inspiration and support of a community, but would rather sit back quietly and take it all in. Or maybe you want to chat with fellow journal writers live on our monthly Zoom Chats with guest experts. You can gain regular  help and support for your unique approach to journal writing.

People journal writing in group for how to journal article

Join our Online Journal Writing Community

We know there is power in community. So come join fellow journal writers in the International Association for Journal Writing ! We offer a learning and inspirational community for journal writers worldwide. Access monthly online writing circles, interviews with guest experts in the field of journaling and expressive writing, courses, journaling tools, e-books and much more.

We also have our Journal Writing Facebook group . Connect with fellow journal writers, receive journal writing tips and prompts to support you on your unique journal writing journey. Everyone is welcome!

Treat Yourself to a Journal Writing Retreat

Lastly, you might want to join one of our virtual Renew You Writing Retreats . Take 3 hours for yourself to journal in a guided and nourishing way. Whether you want to kick-start or reinvigorate your journaling practice, this retreat gives you time for creative self-care and renewal!

“Wow! What an awesome experience! I must admit I was a tad bit skeptical about an online retreat. But woah! Was I wrong! The Renew You Writing Retreat was so invigorating, uplifting, therapeutic, inspirational….just plain awesomesauce. Have you ever had an experience like that? You go in a little skeptical and come out blown away? Have you had the experience of being deeply inspired through writing and sharing with others? If not, you’re missing out! Thank you, Lynda, for creating such a wonderful space and experience.” Airial W. Dandridge, Certified Life Coach

How to Journal – In Conclusion

If you’ve read this far, I know you’re passionate (or at least curious about) the many benefits of  journal writing. Journaling is an empowering experience because you’re always the expert of your own life. Journaling helps you explore both your inner and outer worlds and make sense of your life experience.

As a Registered Social Worker and Certified Co-Active Life Coach, I have been immersed in human transformation, growth, change and wellness for the past 30 years. I’ve learned many different tools and techniques for self-care, healing and growth through my studies and first-hand experience. Journaling is my go to practice that helps me live an intentional, healthy and happy life. And it has helped many people to do the same! Including you, perhaps?

There is only one way to experience the many benefits of journal writing—pick up your pen and write!

“Writing was the healing place where I could collect bits and pieces, where I could put them together again…written words change us all and make us more than we could ever be without them.” bell hooks

May your journaling support you to live an incredible life!

Authors :  Lynda Monk, Director of IAJW and Ruth Folit, Founder of IAJW , partnered to write this How to Journal article, attempting to answer some of the most common questions that new and, in some cases, even seasoned journal writers have.


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Such a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing!

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Thanks, Diana!

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I went to write lots bits to remember and copied it almost word for word in my common place book,but I love to write and am trying to get back into it,I’m writing for recovery from am 8yr relationship with a covert gaslighting narcissist,and I couldn’t write,let alone relax,I have been out for almost 2yrs,and when I start to feel joy or something didn’t work out and I’m hard on myself,I swear I can feel his presence in my house,he doesn’t know where I am,I left him and moved 2hr away in a different state,the feeling is almost overwhelming

Hi Dixie, personal writing can help heal from painful relationships. It’s great you are getting back into it!

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Thank you both Lynda and Ruth for this wonderfully informative resource. Never too old to learn something new! Thank you both for bringing this to us.

Thanks, Lyn. Glad it offered some new ideas!

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Great article Lynda! You’ve covered so many bases – lots of work, and very informative and knowledgeable as always :) Emma-Louise

Hi Emma, thanks for your kind feedback!

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You two put together a beautiful and accessible piece here. It’s filled with all the vast experience and love you have for journaling. Thanks, Beth

Thanks so much, Beth! Your feedback means a lot to us.

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Lynda, a beautiful gift to receive, words combing thoughts, insightful expressions and creative suggestions. Thank you for sharing a writing world held in heart, pen or typing starts journaling what is seen, felt or sensed from a human inner essence. Whole ❤️ Namaste.

Thank you, Denise! Namaste.

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My name is Jacki Smallwood. I have been watching your sight on Facebook, and all the various gifts you have given while on the sight. I have been in a nursing home for 3 years and in quarantine for the past 11 months, not leaving my room, no guests, no funerals or graduation s. To keep my sanity u journal, I share my journaling with other residents through Messenger to help others cope. I don’t have access to copy machine nor anyone to take it out to staples. I am asking if anyone of your organization would donate material that would help me so much and then share with others. I get 45.00 a month from SS and need every penny for my needs. Anything you can do would be so helpful.

Seniors are a special group often ignored through this Covid.

Thank you for anything you could for me.

Jacky Smallwood

Hi Jacky, thank you for your note and request. I removed your mailing address from your original comment before publishing it for your privacy. I will reach out to you by email. I am glad journaling is helping you during this difficult time. More to follow, Lynda

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Lynda, I’m very grateful to have ran across this article. I used to journal a lot when I was younger and I write poetry and music pretty consistently for the last few years. I have been told journaling could be amazing for me to get over some of my past pains and nasty relationships and getting to know myself, growing into a stronger (as well as better person), and just for my general mental health. So, as I begin to journal this very day, I was writing down many things that I want to include and accomplish with this journal inside the front pages of my book and I happened to run across your article! Now I just want to give you a big thank you BECAUSE I attained a lot of information, ideas, and format to include in my new journaling experience! I’m very excited to embark and I just wanted to let you know again I’m grateful for running across your words.

Chelsea Venice, Florida

Hi Chelsea, thanks for your note and for sharing some of your journaling hopes! I love the serendipity that you found our journaling website. We have lots of free journaling resources, including journaling prompts, that might be helpful along the way. You can find them here if you are interested: Happy journaling!

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Thanks for your article esp the prompts to change the language and freshen up what I usually write.

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wonderful article

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Thank you so much for this article! When I was in my deepest months I would always journal but then once I got better I stopped journaling. I really want to get back into it but instead of writing about the bad in my life, I am going to focus on the good.

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thank you for this article!

You’re welcome, Gwen. Thanks for reading.

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I love the ideas for making journaling more appealing in order to journal more consistently. Sometimes I get so caught up in the “should do’s” that I forget that there really are no rules!

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Very informative article on journaling! I’ve found journaling to be a wonderful practice for self-discovery and personal growth.

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Did you know one of the most powerful self-improvement activities  is right at your fingertips?

No, it’s not working out or having good sleep hygiene  (although these are great habits). It’s something even simpler — learning how to start journaling.

Although it’s been around for thousands of years, journaling is currently having a moment in the limelight. From self-help blogs to famous authors like Deepak Chopra, everyone is talking about the life-changing benefits of learning how to journal.

Despite its recent soar in popularity, this isn’t just a new-age self-help trend. If practiced consistently, it can transform your mental fitness , emotional well-being , and even physical well-being .

Let’s explore the importance of keeping a journal and how to incorporate this powerful habit into your daily life.

What is journaling?

Journaling involves writing down your thoughts and feelings as you navigate everyday life. Journaling can help you understand and work through your emotions, especially when you’re feeling anxious or sad. It can also help you grow, become more self-aware, and gain meaningful insights.

Whether you're starting a self-esteem journal practice or a more general one, the beauty of journaling is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s a deeply personal experience that can take many forms.

One day, journaling could look like a diary entry, similar to the ones you may have written when you were a teenager. The next day it can be a list of things that bring you joy or a list of goals you want to achieve .

Developing a journaling habit can help you work through your emotions, especially when you’re feeling anxious  or sad. It can also help you grow, become more self-aware , and gain meaningful insights.

For these reasons, journaling is one of the best self-improvement tools.

Having said that, it’ll come as no surprise that some of the most successful people in the world, including Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, and Arianna Huffington have kept journals throughout their lives.

5 types of journaling

Each person is different. You might want to use your journal to reflect on your behaviors, while your friend might want to keep track of their daily habits. Being clear about the intention of your journal will help inform the type you decide to start keeping.

Here are five common types of journaling to get you started:

1. Daily journaling

As the name suggests, this is a journal that you write in every day. The contents differs from other types of journaling, however, as you focus on sharing what you did and how you felt about it each day. 

This type of journaling can be helpful for individuals experiencing life changes or wanting to keep track of a period of their life. It can also be useful to kick off when starting a new job or career. Having a daily journal will be a great resource to look back on to see how far you’ve grown. It can also serve as a reference if you feel life is moving too quickly.

2. Visual journaling

When most people think about starting a journal, they think of writing. But visual journaling is mostly made up of images. Each entry uses drawings to tell your story. These can be simple line drawings, storyboards, comic strips, or stylized sketches. Experiment with different types of drawings to see which works best for you.

This type of journalism is good for individuals who do not enjoy writing or have difficulty expressing themselves with words. You might find language limiting and prefer a more visual representation of your journal entries.

3. Stream of consciousness/free writing journaling

Many writers use free writing as a warm-up before jumping into their novel or other long-form text. But it can be a useful tool for starting a journal, too. With stream-of-consciousness journaling, you write down thoughts as they flow through your mind. 

It can be difficult for your fingers to keep up with your brain, so don’t worry about your handwriting or spelling errors. The main goal here is to get the bulk of your conscious thoughts out so that you can unearth your deeper ideas and perspectives. You can start this kind of journal with an intention in mind or just jump in and see where it takes you.

4. Gratitude journaling

Studies show that gratitude is linked to happiness . Developing gratitude and a strong gratitude practice is shown to strengthen relationships and develop greater resilience in individuals. So starting to write a gratitude journal can be highly beneficial. Even adding a few bullets for things or people you are grateful for to your existing journal practice has benefits.

You can structure your gratitude journal in different ways. You can list the things you’re grateful for, weave them into a larger entry, or format them as short thank-you notes. You can then choose to keep these private or share them with others.

5. Bullet journaling

You may have seen a bullet journal and wondered how to use one. Instead of lines, they have evenly spaced dots to guide your entries. Bullet journals are highly customizable. They can be used to track everything from your mood to your daily steps. Or you can use one page as an agenda with bullets for reflections such as “one thing that made my day today” or “my intention for today.” You can also get creative with different colors and mediums to design your journal entries just the way you like.


Benefits of journaling

While the act of writing things down seems simple enough, the results are powerful. Here are just some of the benefits of keeping a journal.  

1. Improves mental well-being

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented stress and uncertainty  into our lives.

During this time, 4 in 10 adults in the US have experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression .

One way to deal with intense emotions and uncertainty during difficult times is to find a healthy outlet for them in the form of a journal. Journaling is proven to have a positive effect on mental health and reduce the effects of anxiety and depression .

2. Strengthens the immune system and recovery time

You’ve likely heard the expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, it turns out journaling can have the same effect.

In a 2018 Cambridge study, participants were asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding the most stressful or upsetting events in their lives .

Four months later, those who wrote about their experiences for 15 minutes a day reported fewer visits to the doctor and fewer sick days.

Not only is journaling linked to long-term decreases in health problems, but it also helps you heal faster. Another study found that expressive writing helped speed up wound healing in older adults .

3. Gives you a place to express gratitude

One of the best ways to express gratitude  is by keeping a gratitude journal and writing down things you’re thankful for. Gratitude is proven to activate areas of the brain that are connected to positive emotions .

Feeling grateful also overpowers negative emotions, boosts optimism, and makes you more compassionate .

4. Helps you work through challenges

Journaling is proven to help people heal past wounds and challenging experiences.

A recent Duke University study  asked participants who experienced a recent traumatic event to undergo a six-week writing ‘intervention.’ This consisted of various writing prompts, including expressive, poetic, transactional, and mindful journaling.

The study found that writing increased participants’ resilience and decreased stress .

5. Helps you set and accomplish goals

One of the most effective ways to achieve your goals  is to write them down.

Putting your goals on paper helps you visualize them more clearly. Visualization is a powerful technique  used by elite athletes and CEOs. It involves imagining that what you want to achieve is already yours.

In 2020, Dr. Gail Matthews from the Dominican University of California found that people who write down their goals have a higher chance of accomplishing them  when compared to those that don’t.

The importance of journaling

The only way to reap all the rewards that come with journaling is to be consistent. This means making journal entries a daily habit  rather than an occasional hobby.

Writing daily is a powerful way to do inner work . It can lead to insights and breakthroughs and help you process difficult emotions  and situations.

Learning how to write a journal is also a great mindfulness practice  because it helps you focus on the present moment. Being present without worrying about the past or future is a very calming and peaceful feeling that relaxes the mind and body.

The calming effects of daily journaling can also help treat emotional exhaustion . For example, incorporating 20 minutes of journaling into your nighttime routine can help you unload heavy feelings of stress  before bed.

We could spend all day talking about the many benefits of keeping a journal. But how do you start one?

The process is simple, yet looking at that first blank page of your notebook can feel daunting.

What to write in a journal

This is a personal decision, and it can change over time. You might start your journal to gain clarity about what career you want and then adapt it to include a goal strategy. 

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how you might want to use your own journal and what to write in it:

  • Personal or career goals
  • What you are grateful for
  • Quotes that inspire or motivate you
  • Reflections or revelations
  • Questions you hope to answer at a later date
  • Things you want to improve
  • Compliments to yourself
  • A long-term vision of where you want to be
  • Your activities and what you’ve done and experienced
  • Blockers or frustrations you’re struggling to overcome
  • What you eat in a day and how you feel afterward


How to start journaling (and make it a habit)

Starting a journal can seem intimidating at first. Like any other habit, it takes a while before it becomes a repetitive part of your lifestyle.

Here are some journaling tips to help you start and keep a journal.

1. Find the journaling techniques that work for you

Many people prefer keeping a paper journal because it helps them develop and express ideas more clearly. But putting pen to paper isn’t the only way to journal.

When you first begin writing, it’s important to find the method that works best for you.

You may find that the ease of using a laptop makes journaling more enjoyable for you. You also don’t have to limit yourself to one method.

Say you prefer handwriting, but you get a burst of inspiration during your morning commute on the subway. In that case, you can use the notes app on your phone to jot down your thoughts before you forget them.

2. Let go of judgments (write for your eyes only)

There’s no right or wrong way to journal. When you’re writing, it’s important to practice self-compassion  and leave your inner critic at the door . Journaling is a judgment-free zone.

Don’t worry about things like grammar or spelling. You’re writing for your eyes only, not for an audience.

When you’re self-critical or afraid someone will read your journal, you tend to censor yourself and be less authentic and honest .

3. Keep expectations realistic

When you first begin journaling, don’t expect to write pages upon pages filled with insightful thoughts.

Having unrealistic expectations can actually discourage you from continuing your journaling practice because you don’t immediately see progress.

Like any other habit, you need to set realistic goals and take baby steps in order to see results.

4. Create a writing routine

It’s easy to write on days when you’re feeling inspired and motivated . But what about when you’re not?

Creating a writing routine and scheduling journaling time can help you stay on track, even on days when you’re feeling uninspired.

For example, you can set time aside every morning after breakfast or every evening before bed, even if it’s just for five to ten minutes. This time blocking  method allows you to prioritize journaling and incorporate it into your schedule.

5. Journal about anything that comes to mind

When it comes to what you want to write about, the possibilities are limitless. You can write about your day, your thoughts and emotions, or something that inspired you.

You can also use it as an outlet to release heavy emotions like anger, frustration, or sadness . Putting these feelings down on paper can free you from having them lingering in your mind.

In her book “The Artist’s Way,” author Julia Cameron talks about one method that can help you journal if you’re not sure where to start. It’s called the ‘Morning Pages.’

Each day after you wake up, open your journal and start writing three pages filled with any thoughts that come to your mind.

This stream-of-consciousness writing has been therapeutic for those who have tried it. It's helped them process emotions, gain clarity, and unlock their creative side.

6. Use journal prompts

There will be days when you’re staring at your journal and thinking, "what should I write in my journal?"

Don’t fret — there are countless journaling prompts online that can help you overcome your writer’s block. Here’s a list of things to journal about on the days you feel blocked:

  • A list of things and people you're grateful for
  • A recent situation that challenged you
  • An (unsent) letter to someone in your life
  • Small things that bring you joy throughout the day
  • The best decision you’ve ever made  
  • Daily positive affirmations

7. Get creative

Don’t be afraid to express yourself and be creative. Journal writing isn’t just prose. It can be poetry, sketching, art, lyrics, or anything else that allows you to express yourself.  


How beginners can keep the habit

Learning how to start journaling is the easy part. It’s making it a daily habit that takes self-discipline.

But nobody said building good habits happens overnight.

If you stick to it, you’ll start to see the positive outcomes of journaling manifest in your personal and professional life. Use it as a tool for personal growth, self-discovery, relaxation, or visualization. There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Make it your own.

Ready to make a commitment to yourself? BetterUp offers personalized coaching to help you live a happier, more fulfilling life.

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

105 daily journal prompts that’ll make you want to write

Write your way out of anxiety: 6 benefits of journaling, what is a bullet journal, and how can it boost your productivity, 10 journaling apps to turn today into a better tomorrow, the best jobs for journalism graduates, no magic in manifestation how writing helps turn dreams into reality, how to start a manifestation journal: reach your goals through writing, 33 self-esteem journal prompts for confidence & self-compassion, journal your way to the future you want, similar articles, what is gratitude 12 tips for how to start a gratitude practice, 35 journal prompts for mental health and self-reflection tips, 10 simple ways to work on self-improvement, how to challenge yourself to start living your best life every day, beyond happiness: learn how to be content with life, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

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Become a Writer Today

How To Write a Journal: Step-By-Step

Discover how to write a journal quickly and easily in our step-by-step guide.

I’ve kept journals in various forms on and off for twenty years. Journal writing is a skill that asks for commitment, practice, and honesty. It’s also a perfect practice for creative and successful people. And anyone can do it! This article walks through how to write a journal step-by-step and includes some advanced tips. It pairs nicely with our list of journal writing topics . But first, why even bother with journaling?

The Benefits of Journal Writing

1. journaling cultivates a daily writing habit, 2. journaling documents your life, 3. journaling tackles self-doubt, 4. it’s cheaper than therapy, 5. it cultivates personal growth, 6. journaling is a type of writing practice, step 1: pick a time for journaling, step 2: select a topic to write about, step 3: journal for a pre-determined period, step 4: don’t stop to edit , step 5: explore your thinking, step 6: stop and tidy up, step 7: review your journal entries regularly, keeping multiple journals, how to find time for journal writing, journal writing tools and resources, what do you write in a personal journal, how do you structure a journal, what is an example of a journal, what is the purpose of journal writing, journaling resources.

How to write a journal?

Journaling is a great pursuit for writers and creatives. I’ve journaled for years and recommend it to many writers. It’s easy to start a daily journaling practice, and it doesn’t take much time. But why should you keep a journal in the first place? To answer that question, let’s explore how some famous journal writers approached this craft.

Anytime, I avoid writing because I’m tired, bored, or devoid of ideas, I remind myself of the importance of discipline. Almost every writer I’ve read about sacrificed to pursue their work. They rose early or worked late into the night and they wrote because they had to and not just when they felt the hand of inspiration.

How to write a journal? Virginia Woolf

Like many famous journal writers, Virginia Woolf kept hers with a pencil and paper. She recorded entries every morning until the early afternoon. She wrote about her routine, her ordinary moments :

“I generally write with heat and ease till 12.30 and thus do my two pages. So it will be done, written over that is, in 3 weeks, I forecast from today”

Cheever bemoans his lack of discipline throughout his journals. However, in an entry written shortly before his death in 1982, he recognizes he possessed this essential and departing personal strength that comes with adhering to a writing routine.

“I have climbed from a bed on the second floor to reach this typewriter. This was an achievement. I do not understand what has happened to the discipline, or character, that has brought me here for so many years,” he writes.

Yes, discipline is important, but not at the cost of day-to-day life. For a long time, I thought there was nothing more important than filling a blank page with sentences.

Now, I spend time running, reading, traveling, meeting friends, and sitting quietly . I do other things that aren’t writing. And I’m OK with that.

Even if you’ve found a passion, side-interests are essential. When you’re in danger of burning out, taking time to pursue a side-interest will stoke the embers of what inspires you. Woolf chronicled her long walks while Cheever wrote dozens of entries about swimming, cycling, and meeting friends.

“I do have trouble with the dead hours of the afternoon without skating, skiing, bicycling, swimming, or sexual discharges or drink,” he writes.

The Russian writer Nabokov had little time for eating, socializing, or drinking coffee with friends.

Instead, he loved to solve chess problems and study butterflies. Both of these interests informed his work; his novel, Zashchita Luzhina (The Luzhin Defense), features an insane chess player. He writes in his memoir:

“And the highest enjoyment of timelessness…is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love.”

Self-doubt is a problem for many writers. They worry about what others will think of their ideas and stories. Years ago, I didn’t like writing articles like this one. I worried about how people will perceive me, and if I’ll upset or offend anyone. I learned from Virginia Woolf’s journals that many writers are insecure about their work. However, criticism can help writers improve their craft. She writes:

“What is the use of saying one is indifferent to reviews when positive praise, though mingled with blame, gives one such a start on, that instead of feeling dried up, one feels, on the contrary, flooded with ideas?”

Cheever wasn’t one for paying too much attention to his critics. He rarely re-read his works or reviews about them. That said, even Cheever occasionally dreamt (worried) about how people saw him. He writes in his journal:

“…and last night I had a dream that a brilliant reviewer pointed out that there was an excess of lamentation in my work.”

One way to overcome insecurity is to practice expressing gratitude. I try to do this by thanking those who take the time to read or even share my work, and by appreciating that writers today have more places to express themselves than before.

Vladimir Nabokov

Several years ago, I became a father for the first time. It was a happy time but after my son was born, I dreamt about death and how my life would end. I knew I wasn’t depressed but I worried there was something wrong with me. Then a friend (also a recent father), confessed the same thoughts. As we get older, it’s natural to consider mortality and death. To pretend death doesn’t exist is to live in ignorance of the bond we all share.

There are echoes of death in Woolf’s, Cheever’s, and Nabokov’s memoirs, and these authors taught me it’s unnatural to avoid considering our place in the world. In the opening pages of Speak Memory, Nabokov unpacks the notion of time as a single linear event. He challenged the reader to see not just the endpoint of life, but the beginning of life as well. He writes:

“….my mind has made colossal efforts to distinguish the faintest of personal glimmers in the impersonal darkness on both sides of my life.”

In short, journaling is good for your well-being and mental health.

John Cheever quote

Journaling is a good way of exploring your ideas, opinions, and inner beliefs. Through this habit, you can mark accomplishments and failures and also reflect on important life lessons. You could:

  • Set goals and track your progress towards these goals
  • Review your setbacks and move past them
  • Marking accomplishments and failures

The journals of Cheever, Woolf, and Nabokov taught me that keeping a journal helps identify negative patterns, thoughts, and behaviors. Woolf writes about her depression at length. In 1934, she describes the period after she finished her experimental novel The Waves .

“I was, I remember, nearer suicide, seriously, than since 1913.”

John chronicles his alcoholism at length in his journal and towards the end of his book, it’s hard not the feel the same sense of relief as he does upon finally becoming sober. If you want to learn how to write a journal, I don’t want to be too morbid and put you off. The journals of these authors aren’t all filled with dark life lessons and lamentations. Sometimes, these writers express gratitude.

Nabokov writes at length about his love for his mother and father, his son, and Russia of old. And I’ve yet to read a more powerful personal mission statement than Cheever’s aspiration for the blank page:

“To write well, to write passionately, to be less inhibited, to be warmer, to be more self-critical, to recognise the power of as well as the force of lust, to write, to love.”

Writer’s block describes feeling uninspired and having no great ideas to write about. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about that while journaling. After all, your journal ideas and entries are for you and you alone. Simply, turn up for a few minutes at the same time each day and jot down what you’re thinking or doing. It’s also helpful for:

  • Articulate your arguments and ideas privately
  • Reflect on recent lessons from your personal or professional life
  • Chart your progress towards your goals
  • Reflecting on your to-do list or creative projects

Even if you don’t turn journal entries in public works, reading back on older entries from your own life is entertaining and revealing.

How to Start Writing a Journal: 7 Easy Steps

You don’t have to be a writer to learn how to journal. To practice journaling, write a short entry at the same time of day, every day. If that sounds like too much work, try once a week.

If you want to learn how to start a journal on your computer, use a dedicated journaling app like Day One. It’s built for digital journaling and supports images and videos as well.

Alternatively, create a password-protected file using Word, Pages, or another writing app on your computer. Ideally, it should sync with a service like Google Drive so you don’t have to worry about losing entries. With that in mind, follow these steps:

Open your journaling tool of choice, close the door, and relax. If you have one to hand, pick a single journal writing prompt. Eliminate any distractions including your phone and social media. It’s easier to follow a journaling habit if you stick to it at the same time every day.

A journal entry works well if it’s about a single topic, e.g. your daily routine, creative projects, or a personal problem. That said, there are no rules. Free write if you have to. Often the biggest challenge with creating a journaling habit is figuring out what to write about. You can start a journal entry in several different ways. Here are some creative things to write about in a journal:

  • What you did yesterday
  • You plans for today
  • An inspiring book, film or album
  • Lessons from a course you took
  • How you’re feeling
  • An argument you had
  • A memory from you past
  • Progress towards a goal
  • A problem at work or in your persona life

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, advocates keeping morning pages. These are a great way of starting a journal entry . All you have to do is get up, sit down at your desk and write a stream of consciousness entry first thing.

Set a timer for twenty-five minutes. If that’s too long, aim for five minutes. Consistency is more important than duration. Depending on what’s happening, you may have time to write longer journal entries at the weekend or evening time. Oh, and keep writing!

While writing a journal entry, don’t stop to edit yourself or edit for punctuation until the buzzer sounds. Editing and journaling are different activities. Also, journal entries are for you alone, so it doesn’t matter if you write a stream-of-consciousness .

Allow for negative thoughts, expressive writing, and random ideas to make their way into your journal entries. Reflective journaling is a type of therapy and a window into the soul. So, don’t hold back.

When the timer sounds, re-read your journal entry and tidy it up. Then, move on with your day.

Review your journal entries and writing process once a week, month, or quarter. Past entries should inform future entries. I don’t recommend revising old entries much though, beyond fixing typos and grammar errors. It’s easy and unhelpful to judge an old version of yourself. When in doubt, write a new entry.

I’ve kept various journals on and off since I was fifteen years old. These days, I record a personal journal containing the types of entries you would expect to find in someone’s journal or diary, i.e. it’s about my day-to-day life.

I write 200-300 word entries every morning and a longer entry at the weekend. It’s kind of like my morning pages (an idea advocated by Julia Cameron). I also record a professional or business journal . Here, I write about how this blog and my work is progressing. I also describe the challenges I’m having and what I’m working on.

Finally, I keep a type of Zettelkasten in Day One, which acts as a repository of ideas and information I come across for future writing projects. Here, I record snippets and other information from books I read, courses I take and talks I watch. I also include the links and write a reaction to these. This journaling habit gives me more source materials for future articles. For example:

This Zettelkasten or Slip box contains dozens of entries about writing advice from creative masters like John Cheever and Virginia Woolf. I used a few of them for this article! If you want to learn more about the Zettelkasten method, check out my podcast interview with Sacha Fast .

I won’t lie; if you want to keep writing a journal, you must commit to the practice. Some people who want to keep a journal say they find the process time-consuming, that they forget to write regular entries, and that it can become a chore.

These are valid concerns for journal writers. I spend several hours each week on journal writing. However, if you’re new, start with five minutes a day, ideally in the morning before you forget. Wake up early if you have it.

If you’re experiencing these problems, accept that there will be times when you don’t or can’t write. Instead, remember the benefits of journal writing and that no one needs to read or see this work (i.e. it doesn’t have to be perfect or even polished). You don’t need to keep more than one either. I’ve shared how I practice journal writing in case it helps.

Using Journal Writing Prompts

Some mornings it’s hard to write while tired and under-caffeinated. So I created a personal list of journal writing prompts and used those for a long time. Day One app contains daily journal writing useful prompts. I also like taking pictures of my phone while out and about and using these to start writing entries faster. Sometimes, I just write up what I did yesterday.

I occasionally use TextExpander for OS X ( Phase Express is a Windows alternative) to write entries faster. These are text-expansion apps that turn keyboard shortcuts into snippets of text that I use for my entries.

For example, when I type “; journal”, TextExpander pastes the following questions into my personal journal:

How am I feeling right now? What are my plans for today? What did I read/listen to? How did I help my family?

When I type “; blog”, Textexpander pastes the following questions:

What did I do yesterday? What lesson did I learn? What could I have done better? What one thing must I focus on this week?

I use a semi-colon to prevent Textexpander from inadvertently creating this text while I’m working on something else. These questions serve as writing prompts . When I see them appear on the page, I spend less time thinking about “what I want to write” and more time answering these questions. You can also find several dozen journal writing prompts in my book Yes You Can Write!

  • A notepad: you can’t beat the classics!
  • Day One : a dedicated app for Mac and iOS users
  • Journey: a diary app for Android
  • The Daly Stoic Journal by Ryan Holiday: Packed full of journaling prompts, I keep a copy on my desk
  • The Early Morning Pages by Julia Cameron: a guide to writing in the early hours
  • A password-protected file: nosey-parkers, keep out!
  • Onenote or Evernote: both are useful if you like tagging entries
  • WordPress: you can password-protect your entries
  • Yes You Can Write!
  • Speak Memory

If you want more, check out Anthony Metevier’s post How To Keep A Journal And Remember More and also my detailed guide on Medium.

FAQs on How to Write A Journal

You can write whatever you want as each entry is for you alone. Some good topics include what you did yesterday, goals, your to-do list, and personal or professional challenges.

Journal entries typically don’t require much structure. However, it’s a good idea to date your entries so you can understand your journal’s chronology.

The novelist John Cheever’s journals and Virginia Woolf’s journals are both good examples worth reading.

Journal writing enables you to clarify your thinking, work through negative emotions and record your daily life. It’s also a form of writing practice.

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how to write book journal

Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.

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Book Journaling: What is it and how to get started?

how to write book journal

Someone recently asked me whether a book journal was similar to keeping a daily diary and in a way I suppose you could say it is related to it; it is a log of your thoughts essentially.

But why are people turning to book journaling?

Let’s think about it for a moment.

How long have you been reading for? How many books do you consume each year?

If like me you have been a voracious reader since an early age, we are talking literally hundreds if not thousands of books.

Even if I say I didn’t really start reading excessively until I was 16, let’s take a minute to do the maths.

Being conservative and taking into account the highs and lows of my reading life; let’s cap the reading I have done to 45 books a year.

24 years x 45 books = 1080 books

Now, I know I have a good memory, but even I would struggle to be able to name all the books I have read, and I know I am not alone when I occasionally pick up a book, read the blurb on the back and cannot decide whether I have previously read it or not.

I have even been known to buy books, start them, and only then realise when I am half way through that the plot, if not the same, is definitely similar to something I have read in the past.

The idea is that journaling will go some way to alleviating this problem.

Table of Contents

How Have I Been Tracking What I Read?

For the last few years I have been using Goodreads to keep track of my reading and I love their yearly challenge where you can set yourself a target of how many books you are going to read (yes, I know not everyone agrees with target setting, and I know it is all about quality and not quantity but I personally find it quite satisfying to reach my reading goal each year).

However, it still doesn’t allow me to make varying notes about the title I have just read. I can of  course write a review, just like I do for many of the books I read on my blog , but that doesn’t necessarily  mean I remember the story line or my favourite quotes. I always feel like if I wrote down everything I wished to about what I have just read I will be told that I had written something full of spoilers, even if I do not share the outcome. Simply the act of writing how the story makes me feel, or the themes running through it are enough for people to complain sometimes.

So where can I jot down my inner most thoughts and internal revelations about a book without ruining it for others? In a personal book log or journal.

How to Start a Reading Journal

Firstly, remember this is not meant to be a chore; the idea behind journaling is to enhance your reading experience. It is not meant to cause your stress or make you feel in any way inadequate to others. There are some wonderful artists out there that create stunning journals, and while that may be something to aspire to, always remember the real reason you are doing this. 

It is a personal log of what you have read and enjoyed. No-one else ever needs to see it! The last thing anyone needs, especially right now, is to feel added pressure to do something. Journaling is not necessarily for everyone, and if it isn’t something that you enjoy then simply stop!

Firstly, let’s look at the tools we will need.

note books

Image provided by nist6dh

#1 Choose a Notebook

Honestly, this will be one of the main reasons why many bibliophiles will opt to start journaling. I do not know may bookworms that can walk past the stationery section in any shop without stopping to at least browse.

I have always be a tactile person, so wielding pen and paper has always caused my creative side to spiral out of control far more than when I am sat in front of a laptop.

There are so many notebooks available in various sizes, colours and patterns.  Choose one which appeals to you. There are no rights or wrongs here. Some people want an A4 notepad while others want one that will fit in a pocket or handbag.

The key here is to pick one that you like aesthetically; reminding yourself, of course, that in 5 years you will probably question your choice. 

#2 Colourful Pens, Pencils and Stencils

This is where stationery fiends will start to squeal with joy! I can see you all now getting excited over the prospect of shopping for a set of new gel pens, or perhaps a fancy calligraphy set.

In order to make your journal attractive you will need to add some colour. Many opt to use a key of colour.

For example, you could write in RED for crime, BLUE for memoir, and PINK when discussing Romance. You could list your books in one colour, write your plot reviews in another, and use yet a third for character analysis.

You may even decide to use multi colours for all of the above.

There are no hard and fast rules; it’s your journal so you decide.

Many also use a stencil to create bold, eye-catching headlines and banners (like this banner SVG from Design Bundles) or utilise the larger lettering to embolden their favourite quotes.

Some may find their artistic flare and prefer to freestyle.

#3 Utilise Online Sources

Not an artist, don’t fret. Some people have a natural flare for drawing whereas others can only look on with envy. For those of us who are artistically challenged there are plenty of websites now offering a selection of templates, both free and paid for that could help with this sort of project.

Personally, I like the images offered by Design Bundles, a website that offers every possible shape imaginable that you can download and use for your own purposes. Take the Star SVG for example, you could use a smaller image when giving a book a rating or the larger pictures can be used as a header or within the body of your review to make something stand out.

Star SVG from Design Bundles, offering free ND PAID FOR IMAGES

A simple star design can be used in many ways

What to Include in your Book Journal   

There are many helpful guides out there that offer ideas and downloadable printouts should you require it.

The majority of journal-writers though will combine any number of the following:

#1 A Book Log

  • Name of book
  • Format (audio, eBook, print)
  • Number of pages
  • Star rating
  • Theme notes
  • A brief summary

#2 TBR List or your Reading Bucket List

This is often an ongoing list that would exasperate most people, but for the bookworm it’s a way to keep a tab on all the books you want to read. Some create actual lists while others draw bookshelves and add every book they wish to read, colouring them in when they get around to taking it off the pile.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by deb✨ | bookstagram (@thelittlethingsandmore)

 #3 Reading Challenges

For those that love a challenge you may find that your journal becomes a testament to all those you wish to take part in. This year alone I have looked into completing a Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, A Travel around the World Challenge, A Classic Book Challenge, a Top 100 Books of all Time Challenge and a Year of Non-Fiction Challenge.

#4 Favourite Quotes

We often read something and feel inspired only to forget it again once we close the book. By noting down your favourite quotes you are more likely to remember them for later, and if not, at least they will all be in one place should you want to refer back to them at all again in the future.

#5 Thoughts on the Writer/Book

This could be the perfect place to note down thoughts on the author’s writing style, the character growth, plot development, originality, hang ups, or best bits. The great thing about a journal is that it is private, so go ahead and write down all the spoilers, the honest reflections and the things you did/didn’t like about a book!

Journalling can be whatever you make it

Journaling can be whatever you make it (Image provided by Lauren Manning )

Why Bookworms Should Consider Writing a Book Journal

If you don’t suffer with papyrophilia, an obsession with stationery, you may be wondering why people start such a hobby. Are there really any benefits to journaling? Apparently there are.

The act of journaling itself it meant to:

#1 Improve Critical Thinking

Be honest now, how many times have you paused while reading and had a really insightful albeit fleeting thought about what you have just digested? If you had written those musings down would it not lead to more meaningful reflection later on?

#2 Improves Your Memory

The physical act of jotting down notes helps people to memorise important facts.

#3 Improves Future Reading

Without even realising you may be noting down what is lacking in a novel and what you would like from future reads. You may start to seek out specific genres or books written by a certain author or social demographic in order to make you’re reading a more holistic experience.

#4 Gives You a Greater Focus on Your Reading Goals

Only last year did I start to plan my monthly reading. I use to be a reader that would randomly look at their bookcase and pick their next read. Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the act of spontaneity, in fact sometimes we need it, but at other times, we all feel unease if we do not know where we are heading.

By writing my goals down in advance I can plan for and try to achieve more each month. It may mean forfeiting an evening in front of the TV watching Netflix in order to achieve my target but it is also helping to focus my mind.

Ultimately, whatever your reason for starting a book journal make sure that you consider what you want out of it. Is it purely to track your reading? Is it to meet a goal or organise your TBR pile? Perhaps you want to devise a way of remembering your favourite authors and their work?

Have you started a book journal? What do you include in yours? What suggestions do you have for those just starting out?

Thank you to Design Bundles for sponsoring this article. I have been paid for my time but all views and opinions mentioned in this piece are my own.

Did you enjoy this article? Then PIN it for later…

What is book journaling? Is a book journal something you should consider. This helpful guide from @tbookjunkie contains everything you need to create the perfect journal for you.

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10 Ways to Enhance Your Fiction Writing through Journaling

Today’s guest post is by Lisa Tener.

As a writer, you’ve probably kept a journal at some point. Maybe you still do. Our journals can provide powerful personal insights, contribute to our emotional and spiritual growth, improve our relationships, and so much more.

But are you tapping into the full potential of this process to generate ideas for your creative work?

Exploration of your ideas through the freewriting aspect of journaling can infuse fresh energy into your fiction projects, it can enable you to delve deeper into chosen topics  and resolve outstanding plot issues, choices, and challenges for your characters.

10 Creative Ways to Tap Your Journal for Your Fiction

  • Generate and Explore New Ideas: A journal is, by its nature, a place to feel free to brainstorm and explore ideas. You may journal with the intention of coming up with a new project, but you may also review old journals to see what new ideas emerge. Once you identify the premise and main characters of a fiction project, you can continue to explore the story in your private journal before committing to it on an actual file on your computer or phone.
  • Get to Know Your Characters : Interview fictional characters in your journal. Or take on their persona, and write in your journal as if you were the character. What does she care most about? What voice does she use when she journals, versus how she speaks with others? Does that private internal monologue inform her voice as a narrator or in dialogue?
  • Support Your Writing Habit : We know, theoretically, that writing every day makes us better writers, more productive writers, and helps us complete our work. But do you work on your manuscript daily? If not, journaling could be your key. Upon waking, jot down everything that comes to mind in relation to your fictional work-in-progress. Our mind is much less critical before we are fully awake, which allows for greater freedom in creative exploration.
  • Solve a Problem : Explore challenges in your novel or short story. Journal about the plot problem or the flat character. With a character you find challenging to write, you might explore any internal resistance you feel, or question why you’re holding back with this specific person. Do they reveal something about yourself that you would rather not see? Do they remind you of someone you’ve had difficulties with in the past?
  • Experiment: Get creative in your journal and try forms you might have assumed were too challenging. Or outside your comfort zone. A journaled poem may spark ideas or find its way into your character’s journal or even influence the voice of your narrator. Whether you utilize them directly or not, your journal experiments will certainly impact your fiction.
  • Mine Your Dreams : Upon waking, while still enveloped by that veil of dissipating sleep, see if you can recall your dreams, and then jot down all the details you can recover in your journal. By connecting with your dreams, you can then work on your novel or short story and write from that numinous space where dreams incubate. You may experience more ease and a stronger sense of flow. You can also ask your subconscious—or write a note in your journal (or place a note under your pillow)—for a dream that helps you resolve an outstanding issue or challenge with your story. Or ask for dreams that will provide new insights into your work. It may take a few nights of asking before the connection becomes clear. Often, more details emerge as you journal.
  • Root through Old Journals: Does your narrator visit Bangkok in the 1990s? Did you visit Bangkok then as well? Go back to your old journals for descriptions of the Buddhist temples, lush city gardens, and the crazy discos you visited. Does your character experience a health challenge that you went through in college? Search those college journals, if you have them, for descriptions of the experience. In fiction we are free to imagine unlived experiences and people seemingly unrelated to ourselves, but we should also feel free to work from what we know.
  • Capture Dialogue: Keep your journal with you throughout the day and take notes whenever you overhear a colorful snippet of conversation. It may be fodder for dialogue later. What you hear may even spawn a new character.
  • Take a Detour : Creativity flourishes when we take a break from our larger project and do some other seemingly unrelated creative work via journaling. You never know how journaling will influence your fiction—it may open up a space or solve a nagging question with the plot, it may spark some vivid metaphors, it may even provide you with a new way of looking at the key conflicts of your story.
  • Create Inner Space : I have great news for you. By simply journaling your encounters, thoughts and emotions, you will inevitably generate enough momentum to avoid the dreaded feeling of writer’s block. You will develop a habit of productivity. You don’t need to journal specifically about your creative writing project, but you certainly can. Either way, once you make journaling a daily practice, your fiction will surely improve in the most gratifying and surprising ways.

how to write book journal

Check out Lisa’s The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day . By guiding you through easy daily writing exercises, The Joy of Writing Journal can help you to finally sit down and do the writing that has been calling to you. Lisa offers private coaching and award-winning nonfiction writing courses at . Follow Lisa on Twitter , Instagram or join her private Facebook Group (Write and Create with Lisa Tener).

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I am a definite fan of journaling and free writing. Your list of benefits is great. I am especially fond of #4.

Thanks much for digging deeper and writing them down. Even if not a novel but is very helpful in other areas storytelling. Accept my wishes.

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The Ultimate Guide to Reading Journals for Book Lovers

This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Please see Disclosures for more information.

If you’re thinking about starting a reading journal, look no further than this ultimate guide to book journals. You’ll find book journal ideas, reading journal examples, prompts, and thoughts on why you should start a book log to improve your reading life.

Over the last year, I’ve really embraced the idea of using a reading journal . As I’ve explored the role of a book journal in my reading life, I’ve discovered that there are so many ways to use reading journals.

I’ve actually started keeping multiple reading journals –some that I use alongside my regular daily reading and others that are tied to longer-term reading goals and tracking.

Why to Keep a Reading Journal

For a long time, I was resistant to using any type of reading tracker . I’m protective of my love of reading, and I don’t want my enjoyment of it to be affected by getting hung up on numbers.

It’s one reason I don’t set a yearly goal on Goodreads. While I glance at how many books I’ve read at the end of the year, I never want to get focus on that number–and start avoiding long or slow books so I can read more books.

But as I’ve read more books, and added audiobooks to the mix, I’ve found it useful to have a place to jot down my thoughts as I read. I also like having a place to note all the books I want to read –as well as why they catch my interest (because I’m bound to forget!).

And for me, that’s the key to book journaling : the forgetting. Or, more accurately: the remembering . 

Writing things down– with pen and paper , not just online–is proven to help memory . And in a busy life with work, family, kids, friends , blogging, and–yes–lots and lots of books, I don’t always remember what I’ve read, or what I want to read. You may be the same.

The truth is, even when the most voracious readers finish a book and are blown away by how fantastic it was, we just don’t always remember it weeks, months, and years later. 

Journaling about books can help you remember the story, characters, and the feeling of reading those books .

Keeping a book journal or reading diary can help you remember the books you want to read, keep you on track with reading goals, and help you meet a reading challenge .

And if you’re trying to learn something, to improve yourself, or to make a real change–as so many of us have been as we dive into our anti-racist education –a reading journal can help you track what you read and learn , and what you plan to read .

Reflecting on books in writing can help you clarify what you read, what you learned (if anything), and what you thought about it.

Reading Journal Ideas

Just like there are many reasons to keep a reading journal, there are so many types of book journals you can choose to keep.

I don’t recommend keeping multiple journals that you feel like you need to write in daily–one main journal will serve you better there–but there’s no harm in keeping additional journals to track certain aspects of your reading life.

Some of these journals I pick up sporadically as I recall books I’ve read in the past or come across books I want to read in the future, while others I update on a daily or weekly basis.

There’s no right or wrong way to journal about your reading–find what suits you! I’ve outlined a bunch of reading journal ideas below to get you started.

Book Log or Reading Tracker

A book log or reading tracker is one of the simplest ways to get started with book journaling. This type of reading journal can be as detailed as you want, and I often combine this with other types of book journals detailed below. If you’re just looking for a simple log of what you read and when, this is a low-barrier way to get started.

Start anywhere–today, last week, the start of the year. Write down the book, author, and any details you want to record. That might include:

  • The dates you read it
  • Format (print, ebook, audiobook)
  • Number of pages
  • Star rating
  • Theme notes
  • Brief summary or review

To make it really simple, leave off the notes and just keep a running list of books. You might be surprised by how helpful it is to just have a list of the books you’ve read .

The reading log is the one type of book journal that I do digitally–I use Goodreads for my log. I like the ability to sort by certain characteristics, including page count, dates read, and ratings. I don’t usually do much beyond that in Goodreads, but for my general book log, I like having this data at my fingertips.

In addition to Goodreads, I’ve started using an annual reading planner that I use for tracking my reading by month. As a book blogger and someone who pays attention to new releases, I find the monthly planning and reflection pages really helpful.

Get your own Annual Reading Planner

Amazon (bound journal)

Book Review or Reading Response Journal

Journals are a great place to jot down notes for book reviews or reading responses (though I think that term is mostly used in schools). I don’t usually write out my full reviews in my journal (since I do that on the blog), but I like to make short notes about my thoughts as I read. 

In addition to things I like or don’t like, I include things like the characters, themes, major plot points ( my journal is full of spoilers !). Since my journals are for me and not for an audience, I feel free to include those details in a way that I wouldn’t on the blog or Goodreads. 

Physically writing them down helps me remember these details when I think back on books. As a blogger who frequently revisits past reads, this is helpful for writing book list posts.

It also keeps my “to reread” list whittled down, because it helps me remember how the book ends (I forget this ALL THE TIME.) I love rereading excellent books , but I can’t reread them all!

Get your own Books I Read journal –>

Books to Read/TBR Journal

My “books to read” journal (or TBR journal – “to be read”)  is where I jot down the books that catch my eye. Since I’ve started reading book blogs and writing my own, I read more book reviews than ever before. As a result, my TBR is unending. I’ve accepted that I’ll never get through it.

But I still like to write down the books that sound appealing. If you decide to keep a TBR journal, jot down a few notes about the book, including who recommended it, some notes on the story, and why you think you might like it. If you finally pick up the book months later, it will help you remember why you wanted to read it .

This is also useful for removing books from your TBR –which for me, also happens frequently. If a book doesn’t work for a trusted reader friend, I’ll go in and cross it out. Same thing if something about the book is problematic (e.g., American Dirt).  

Those things don’t always mean I won’t check out a book for myself, but again: reading time is limited , and I want to spend it with the most promising books.

A TBR journal could also be useful if you’re trying to change your reading habits in some way. For example, if you’ve committed to reading books by more Black or LGBTQ-IA authors. Or if you’re working your way through a list of classic novels , or you want to read more sci-fi . Maybe you’re even researching or learning about a particular topic.

I find a paper TBR journal more useful than Goodreads for tracking my TBR because I tend to add books with abandon in Goodreads. Then when I revisit it, I have no memory of why or when I added a particular book. 

Because of the small amount of effort to physically write in my TBR journal, I’m more thoughtful about whether a book should be added, and I’m more likely to remember it (and if not, I can revisit my notes).

Get your own Books to Read journal –>

Reading Challenge Journal

Reading challenges are a fun way to shake up your reading life, and they can take so many forms. A lot of people start reading challenges at the start of the year, but you can start a challenge anytime, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be bound by time.

I tend to avoid numbers-based challenges, but I do like to consider my reading habits each year and what kind of books I want to read more of. My 2020 reading challenge was to read one nonfiction book per month and one book from my shelf . 

To support my challenge, I started a reading challenge journal . The journal helped me narrow down my goals for the year, and it gives me a place to track my progress and write about the books I read.

A dedicated book journal for your reading challenge can be especially useful if your challenge will span a whole year (or even longer). It can help you stay focused on your goal and remember to work in those books that help meet your challenge.

My reading challenge journal includes pages to brainstorm and plan your challenge , as well as monthly pages to note your reading plans and stay on track .

I firmly believe that there’s no “should” when it comes to your reading life –you don’t *have* to read anything you don’t want to. But if you have a mental list of books you definitely want to read “someday,” a reading challenge is a great way to actually make it happen. 

Get your own Reading Challenge Journal

Books you love.

Ah, my favorite! This is a new journal project I’ve started this year, and I expect it to be a lifelong collection of journals (maybe even something that will amuse my kids or grandkids after I’m gone?).

My reading journal of the Books I Love is just that: a collection of notes on my very favorite books .

I don’t write in this one often, but when I find myself thinking about old favorites, I like to pick it up and make a few notes. I have space to summarize the book, why I loved it, themes, quotes, similar books, and to note others who might love it.

Because I’m often looking back on books I read years ago, I may not fill in all of these spaces (see that whole issue of remembering what even happened that I discussed above). 

But this is the place where I recall how books made me feel , and what about them sticks with me years later. I do occasionally add newer books that I adore soon after I read them, but not always. It’s interesting to see what books rise to the top long after I’ve moved on from them.

My journal of books I love is a mishmash of childhood favorites , books from my teen years, and books I read as an adult. I enjoy the freeform nature of it and just falling back into my “oh, I LOVED that” whims, but if you wanted to be more organized about it you could separate by genre or age group.

Get your own Books I Love journal –>

Reading Bucket List Journal

I wrote a lot about building a reading bucket list a few years ago, and I still think it’s a useful exercise. I think a lot of us do carry about mental list of “someday” books we want to read, and narrowing down our actual reading bucket list makes it more likely to happen.

These days, I think my reading bucket list could use an update (fewer old white men, more marginalized authors from all time periods), but I do like to revisit it and work the books in when I can. Even better if they’ve been sitting on my shelf for years!

I use one of my Books to Read journals for my reading bucket list. This isn’t a reading journal that I update often, but it’s one that I like to keep for long-term tracking.

Thoughtful Reading Journal

Finally, what I’m calling a “ thoughtful reading journal ” is a type of journal that I haven’t actually started yet, but that I’ve been wanting more and more in my reading life. I am especially realizing this in 2020 as I read more nonfiction and more books for my antiracist education.

All of my reading journals have a bit of space to make notes and write reviews after I finish them, but I read books over a number of days–sometimes even weeks.

My next reading journal will be a place where I can make notes as I’m reading , of the things I’m learning, questions I have, quotes or ideas that stand out, and concepts to explore further.

This will be my working journal–the time in the messy middle of reading when I’m still processing what the author is saying and how it’s affecting me. It’s not one to use with every book–lighter beach reads probably won’t get pages here–and I may not even realize I need it until I’m several chapters into a book. 

But when I start coming across passage after passage that makes me pause, read it again, and try to internalize it , I want a meaningful way to engage with those ideas. And obviously, for me, that starts with a reading journal.

How a Book Journal Improves Your Reading Life

Obviously, I keep a lot of reading journals. I’ve always loved journals and pens and stationery, and now that I’ve designed some pretty journals that fit my needs? All the better.

But when I started my first reading journal this year, I wasn’t sure how it would work for me . I’d gotten out of the habit of journaling in general and I thought Goodreads might be enough, flawed as it was. 

But keeping a physical journal with pen and paper has had multiple benefits to my reading life , including:

  • Better memory of stories
  • More meaningful reflection on what I read
  • Greater focus on my reading goals.

In addition, those jotted notes usually lead to additional insights and connections that I wouldn’t have made without the physical act of writing. Typing up a review is one thing, and it’s useful, but those pen-on-paper notes are gold .

Choosing a Readers Journal

You have lots of options if you want to start a reading journal and it’s okay to use a mix of them. 

You may want to do some digitally and some on paper. And you may like the idea of creating your own journal , or you might want to use a pre-printed journal , as I do.

Digital Reading Journal

You have a few options if you want to journal your reading in a digital format, but the main decision here is whether you want it to be public or private (or somewhere in between).

If you want to share your reading journal and have conversations with others about it, Goodreads, Instagram, and blogs are great ways to do it. I’ve even seen people post about their reading on Facebook.

Posting publicly changes the nature of a reading journal. As a blogger, I post my reviews with other readers in mind . I share my thoughts, but I also try to think about who might enjoy a book. It’s less for me than for my readers, while my reading journal is for my own reading life.

I enjoy both the public and private aspects of reflecting on reading, so I do both of these. Your choice depends on your goals, how you plan to write, and your comfort level with sharing your thoughts publicly.

DIY Reading Journal

If fancy lettering, stickers, little drawings, and creating layouts are your thing, then a DIY reading journal is the perfect choice for you!

And if you don’t like those things? DIY can still be a great option. Pick up a notebook, start writing about a book, and voila! Reading journal .

A do-it-yourself book journal gives you the freedom to make a journal that works for you. If you like several of the types of journals described above, you can combine them into one journal. If you want to experiment with layouts, you can. Want to make it part of your bullet journal ? You can.

You could also just grab a binder or discbound notebook , find or create some templates, print them out, and make a pre-printed journal that works for you. You might like these printable reading journals:

Annual Reading Planner Printables

Reading Challenge Printables

Buy a Printed Journal

This is my favorite option, and not just because I made them for sale. For me, a pre-printed reading journal ensures that I actually continue to write in my reading journals. Much as I like the idea of a beautiful bullet journal, actually creating one is not something I’ve ever been able to sustain. 

While I know they don’t have to be pretty and can be as utilitarian and functional as I want them to be, sitting down to a blank page is sometimes a barrier. This is especially true if I start out drawing nice layouts and then feel like I need to keep it up. At this point in my life, I’m just not a bullet journaler . 

That’s why I made my own reading journals, with layouts and prompts that are flexible but also capture most of what I want to remember about a book.

I also like having nice looking journals that work together and add a little color to my bookshelves. Most of the journals are compact enough to carry around easily and keep handy for quick notes. I hope you also find them useful!

Shop for Reading Journals

If you’d like to get your own reading journals, you can see all of the color and journal types in the Shop .

Start Your Reading Journal

I’ve discussed tons of options for ways to use a book journal to enhance your own reading life , and I’m sure there are more. Now it’s time to get started on your own reading journal!

If you’re ready to start, I recommend choosing one type to start with. This will help you figure out exactly how you want to use it. I’ve added multiple forms of book journaling to my own reading tracking, but I’ve added them over time.

Before you start, consider your goals . If you have multiple, start with one:

  • Tracking your reading?
  • Organizing your TBR?
  • Meeting a reading goal?
  • Remembering your favorites?

If you have a few of these goals, pick one for a week or two, try it out and see what works for you. If you love journaling and want to keep going, expand or continue what you’re doing or start another type or reading journal.

Most of all, have fun with it . Your reading journal isn’t homework, and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t record something. Don’t be afraid to add color, stickers, or doodles . Write sideways or in spirals! 

Great books sometimes send our thoughts in crazy directions –let yourself record what you’re thinking and feeling as you reflect.

Share Your Reading Journal Ideas!

I’d love to know how you use a reading journal. Share your ideas, reading journal prompts, and the creative ways you keep track of your reading.

Allison is a dedicated book lover, writer, and lifelong learner with an undeniable passion for books and reading. As the founder of Mind Joggle, she helps busy, overwhelmed women reclaim their mental space and make books a transformative part of their lives. She holds an Ed.M in Technology in Education from Harvard University and a BS in Scientific and Technical Communication from the University of Minnesota.

I enjoyed reading through this as much as I enjoy reading my books. People act astounded if you say you record what you read. I enjoy reading my READ recordings. I have one that only lists the books I’ve read buy Title,Author, Year and Month so it is an annual list of books I can refer to whenever.

I make notes when I read in a Book Journal and keep QUOTES. If it is a Book Club read, I write as I am reading as to my feelings, the setting, characters and plot. I make a summary as to what I will say when My turn comes.

Journalling is as much a hobby for me as reading. I have journals that record on the settings of books I have read. I have all the shires/counties in England with their authors! All the provinces of Canada, and states in the USA. I am not big on American settings unless about injustices. In fact, it is the setting of a book I first look for in deciding. I enjoy description in detail.I avoid gore if that is all the theme.

I do read a lot of war stories that are of courage, survival, and realistic. I collect books, hundreds, to have on my shelves ready to read. These are Flea market, Value Village treasures, as much fun finding as reading.

I also enrol in literary courses that encourage my reading. I have two bookclubs which propel me in directions I wouldn’t go otherwise. Reading is wonderful hobby. I started ‘diaries as a child and have been journalling ever since. I loved my English courses i university though nwo I would love to do an English degree, except for the commitment. That would ruin it for me.

Did I say I love reading what other people write about the books they read and why? I read reviews, lists, authors, and blogs.

It is such a joy to share the thoughts of other readers. As to the time this takes, it is how I love to spend my quiet time. I have lots of it and feel very grateful for my love of reading and reasonable eyesight.

I note by country, weather, war, history, facts, feelings.

I’m just starting in my reading journal journey, currently using a monthly one from Owlcrate. It’s got the basics, monthly calendar, monthly TBR and new releases and of course sections for book reviews. I’m making sure I use it this year and see what I end up wanting from my journal and go from there.

Enjoyed this post, lots of great ideas. I also like a habit tracker for reading and also tracking daily pages read etc.

I really enjoyed reading this article and found it very helpful. I myself am new to book journaling and experimenting with how I want to keep one. Right now I track how many pages read a day, name of book and the author. I also keep a summary section for each book once I have finished that I use for a summary about the book and how I feel about what I read. This is a fun adventure for me and look forward to seeing how my journal evolves over the year.

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The Great Book of Journaling: How Journal Writing Can Support a Life of Wellness, Creativity, Meaning and Purpose (How to Journaling Self-Help)

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The Great Book of Journaling: How Journal Writing Can Support a Life of Wellness, Creativity, Meaning and Purpose (How to Journaling Self-Help) Paperback – June 14, 2022

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Promote healing, ignite creativity, and discover writing tips from two journaling experts.

"This book is a beautiful quilt, each chapter written by one of the wisest voices in the journaling world, on every aspect of journal writing imaginable.” — Ruth Folit , founder and past director of the International Association for Journal Writing

#1 Best Seller in Writing Skills, Writing Guides, and Nonfiction Writing Reference

The Next-Generation Book on Journaling Techniques

Learn from the best. The Great Book of Journaling equips you with practical and effective journaling techniques, advances your writing skills, and enhances self-esteem. Written by esteemed psychotherapist Eric Maisel and journaling expert Lynda Monk, Director of the International Association for Journal Writing, this book guides you on a path of healing, creativity, and self-discovery.

Discover the therapeutic magic of journal writing. Experience the transformative power of journaling. By engaging in daily meditations and personal writing, you can tap into your innate creativity and nurture self-love.

Packed full of valuable journal writing knowhow.  We’ve rounded up 40 of the top journal experts in the world to explain exactly what journal writing can do for you!  The Great Book of Journaling  is full of practical tips, evidence-based research, and rich anecdotes from their coaching, teaching, therapy work with journal writers, and personal journal writing. 

Inside find:

  • Innovative journaling techniques to boost your creativity and writing skills
  • Therapeutic writing methods to foster healing and high self-esteem
  • Daily meditation practices for cultivating self-love and wellness
  • Expert advice from 40 leading journaling professionals for deepening your personal writing

If you have read Mindfulness Journal ,  The Self-Discovery Journal , or  No Worries , you will love The Great Book of Journaling . Also, don’t miss Eric Maisel’s Redesign Your Mind and The Power of Daily Practice .

  • Print length 288 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Conari Press
  • Publication date June 14, 2022
  • Dimensions 6 x 0.72 x 9 inches
  • ISBN-10 1642508543
  • ISBN-13 978-1642508543
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Editorial Reviews

“I dare you to read more than a chapter or two of  The Great Book of Journaling  without feeling compelled to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard! This book is a beautiful quilt, each chapter written by one of the wisest voices in the journaling world, on every aspect of journal writing imaginable. That such journaling intelligence is accessible between two covers of one book is a gift to any existing or would-be journal keeper.”

— Ruth Folit , founder and past director of the International Association for Journal Writing

“I coach and accredit professional coaches and mentors, so I know what it takes for us to succeed personally and professionally. One of those success factors is having positive daily mental health and well-being practices. That’s why I’m a fan of  The Great Book of Journaling . It’s a wonderful self-care resource for practicing what we preach to our clients, one that will help us and them live the lives we both desire.”

— Dawn Campbell , business director, international authority for professional coaching and mentoring

“This is a GREAT BOOK for those who already journal and for those who are ready to journal! Every chapter is filled with ideas and examples that will spark your creative self into action! Buy a copy for yourself, and lots more for gifts!”

— Joyce Chapman , author of  Journaling for Joy

“As one of the 40 contributors to this book, I am excited by the collection's diverse approaches to journaling, all of them with something to teach me. This easy-to-engage-with collection offers strategies for journaling that will revive interest for long-time journal keepers and encourage new journal keepers to establish their journaling practice. Every chapter includes writing strategies that foster discovery as well as encouraging one to continue journaling for healing, for wisdom, and for capturing all of life moments.”

— Sheila Bender , founder of Writing It Real

“ The Great Book of Journaling  is indeed great! The richness of the many journaling perspectives, benefits, and suggested journaling activities included makes this book a true gem. I highly recommend this book for new and avid journal writers alike who crave both inspiration and information to start, sustain, or deepen an existing journaling practice. This book will surely inspire you to pick up your pen and tap into your inner wisdom and well-being through journaling.”

— Rebecca Kochenderfer ,

“Journaling saved my life while battling a life-threatening illness. Never in the history of the world has there been a greater need for the in-depth introspection and self-healing that journal-keeping offers. The Great Book of Journaling is a stellar introduction to the joys and benefits of journaling by leaders in the field. Inspiration and guidance shine from every page.”

— Lucia Capacchione , art therapist, author, and originator of the Creative Journal Method

“What you'll find in  The Great Book of Journaling  is more than just a collection of ideas about journaling. Each of these chapters is meant to invite you deeper into a practice of listening to yourself, tuning into your intuition, and harnessing your natural powers to heal and create the life that you were meant to live. Ready for a fresh experience of the practice your therapist and every self-help book has been telling you to do? This book will touch your heart and help you connect with your inner creative self in a practice that can last the rest of your life!”

— Jacob Nordby , author of The Creative Cure–How Finding and Freeing Your Inner Artist Can Heal Your Life

“Who wouldn't want a life of wellness, creativity, meaning, and purpose? As a psychotherapist who believes that my craft can be helpful in this respect, I must also acknowledge that journaling can also help get you there. You still have to put in the work, and you will want to learn from the best. I highly recommend  The Great Book of Journaling . It is full of practical wisdom, and it is a lot less expensive than therapy."

— Jed Diamond, PhD , psychotherapist, author of The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression

“ The Great Book of Journaling , which contains an eclectic variety of creative and meaningful ways to journal, serves as a valuable and practical guide to anyone interested in journaling. For those who already journal, the book invites the reader to explore new techniques and unlocks the key to the gifts of journaling.”

— Merle R. Saferstein , author of Living and Leaving My Legacy

About the Author

Eric Maisel , PhD, is widely regarded as America’s foremost creativity coach and has written extensively on the challenges of the creative life. His books specifically for writers include Deep Writing , Write Mind , Living the Writer’s Life , A Writer’s Space , A Writer’s Paris , and A Writer’s San Francisco .

Maisel is the author of 50+ books, among them The Power of Daily Practice , Lighting the Way , Coaching the Artist Within , Mastering Creative Anxiety , Why Smart People Hurt , and The Van Gogh Blues .

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From "journaling basics" by mari l. mccarthy.

Writing in your journal is simultaneously simple and profound. There is nothing complicated about putting pen to paper, but when you make it a regular habit, it becomes a powerful force for good in your life.

In your journal, you uncover your innermost thoughts, feelings, desires, and fears. You release stress, spark creativity, and overcome challenges. You gain insights that lead to growth, adventure, and change. You heal old wounds and cultivate healthier relationships with yourself and others. It’s one of the most affordable and effective ways you can care for yourself.

Journaling is truly transformative; it is shown to improve physical, mental, and emotional health and help you achieve your goals. But even if you understand all the benefits, you might still struggle with building a journaling practice.

Do any of these obstacles sound familiar?

  • I can’t seem to find the time to write
  • I used to journal but stopped when life got busy
  • I don’t know what to write about
  • I have too much I want to write about
  • I like the idea of journaling but not the actual practice
  • I feel bored/restless/anxious/overwhelmed when I write
  • I forget to journal (and then feel bad about it)

If you recognize yourself in one or more of these statements, you are in good company! These are common challenges that afflict even the most dedicated journal writers.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Conari Press (June 14, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1642508543
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1642508543
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.5 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.72 x 9 inches
  • #1,149 in Journal Writing Self-Help
  • #2,403 in Meditation (Books)
  • #6,241 in Motivational Self-Help (Books)

About the author

Lynda monk msw.

Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is a Registered Social Worker, Certified Professional Co-Active Life Coach, and the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing – Lynda is co-editor, with Dr. Eric Maisel, of two books including Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients: A Complete Guide to the Benefits of Personal Writing and the The Great Book of Journaling: How Journal Writing Can Support a Life of Wellness, Creativity, Meaning and Purpose. She is the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection. She developed Life Source Writing: A Reflective Journaling Practice for Self-Discovery, Self-Care, Wellness and Creativity. Lynda regularly teaches, writes, and speaks on the healing and transformational power of journaling and expressive writing. She also has an expertise in burnout prevention and resilience. Lynda has been supporting and educating helping professionals and caregiving organizations for over 25 years. She lives on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada where she starts each day with journaling, meditating, and a good cup of coffee before her busy family awakens!

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How to Keep a Book Journal

Last Updated: June 22, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Grant Faulkner, MA . Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the co-founder of 100 Word Story, a literary magazine. Grant has published two books on writing and has been published in The New York Times and Writer’s Digest. He co-hosts Write-minded, a weekly podcast on writing and publishing, and has a M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.  There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 210,891 times.

Grant Faulkner, MA

Sample Entries

how to write book journal

Starting a Book Journal

Step 1 Consider the benefits of a book journal.

  • If you only read a few books a year, it may not be so helpful to keep a reading journal. These journals are usually only worthwhile for truly avid readers.

Step 2 Choose a medium.

  • Although you may already have a preference for one over the other, you should consider both routes before making a firmer choice.
  • In some cases, a fusion of physical and online note-keeping is a good idea. You won't always be around a computer when you're reading, and your finalized reflections can be input into a blog once you're done reading a given book.

Step 3 Buy a durable book.

  • While you're going for durability, you also want something that you'll feel happy with writing in for the next several months. It's not uncommon for writers to develop an emotional attachment to their journals, so make sure you buy a journal that's high-quality enough to deserve it.

Step 4 Set up a blog.

  • There are lots of free blogging sites available. Blogspot and WordPress are just a couple of the best-known. [2] X Research source
  • Although you can keep a book journal private if you want, giving other people a chance to go along on the journey with you can lead to feedback and discussion, both regarding the stuff you're reading and the content of your writing itself.

Step 5 Create a Goodreads account.

Writing Your Book Journal

Step 1 List the book's essential information.

  • The bits of info you markdown can be an anchor for remembering other things.

Step 3 Copy memorable quotes into your entry.

  • Don't forget to include the page number if you quote something from a book.

Step 4 Comment on writing techniques in the book you're reading.

  • For the sake of writing in your journal itself, write your feelings on whether you think certain techniques worked or not. A journal entry can be an informal critical review. By putting technical aspects under the microscope, you'll be able to tell good from bad writing apart more easily over time.

Step 5 Note your current time and place with each book entry.

  • Writing down the ties between what you're reading and what you experienced is a great way to better remember both. This will help enrich the association between the book and the circumstances of your life.

Step 6 Relate the book to what's going on in your life.

  • With some given background in place, you can contextualize the book in question with the mindset you were in at the time. This can help explain why you focused on or wrote certain things in each entry.
  • Obviously, more personal details should only be included in the book journal is totally private and not at risk of being read by anyone else.

Step 7 Reflect on whether the book has changed you.

  • It may be helpful to put a note like this in boldface. That way, when you're scanning past entries months or years from now, you'll be able to quickly spot the ones that were especially noteworthy to you at the time.

Maintaining Healthy Reading Journal Habits

Step 1 Make a periodical reading goal.

  • Make sure the goal is realistic and account for the fact that some books will take you much longer to read than others.
  • Goodreads has an annual reading goal feature free for use by all accounts. [7] X Research source If you sign up with an account, you can set a chosen book goal at the start of the year and see how you've done by the end of it.

Step 2 Write your book-entry as you read.

  • This is a very important part detail if you've been out of school for a while and find you've been losing your touch as a critical reader in the time since.

Step 3 Finish your entry as soon as you're done reading.

  • Even if you don't publish your entries on a public blog, recording a second copy of your entries can be insurance against losing them permanently.

Step 5 Take care of your book journal.

  • Take care to keep your book journal clear of food and drink spills and put it in a special compartment in your backpack if you're taking it out someplace.
  • Alternatively, if you're keeping your book journal up to date with a blog, make sure you keep close guard over your password info.

Community Q&A

Lord Neode

  • You should wait a few months at least before you start reading past entries. There won't be as much point in reading your own thoughts if the memory of the book itself is still fresh. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1
  • Add a visual aid. Maybe draw a picture that represents something from the book that has been read, to the journal. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1
  • Buy a cheap plain notebook so you can customize it to make it more personal for you. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1

how to write book journal

  • Don't read books purely for the sake of increasing the size of your book journal. There is far too much stuff available to be reading to settle on something you're not interested in. Don't be afraid to stop reading something if it's not grabbing you. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

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Keep a Diary and Stick to It

  • ↑ Grant Faulkner, MA. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 8 January 2019.
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How to Start a Reading Journal (+ A Peek Inside My Journal)

Keeping a reading journal is a habit all book-lovers should adopt. If you’re scratching your head and wondering, “How does a reading journal work?” this post has you covered!

This post was originally published as two articles written by PageFlutter founder, Megan, in 2016, and   Alice from  The Geeky Burrow  in 2018. In 2022, the post from Alice was added into the post by Megan, creating one article covering everything you need to know about reading journals.

If you’re ready to get started keeping track of your reading with a book journal, keep reading for our best tips, plus a peek inside a real reading log!

A Pinnable Image showing examples of a book journal and the text "A Peek Inside my Book Journal and Why I Wish I'd Started Years Ago"

What is a Reading Journal ?

It’s no secret that pen and paper lovers like to record  all the things .

Over the years, we at PageFlutter started noticing that reading journals have become more and more popular. 

And as we noticed reading journals become more popular, we also noticed our own mistakes: we never recorded the books we’ve read over the years, or used any kind of book tracker!

We should have started this habit years ago.

At PageFlutter, we consider ourselves avid readers. Books are our jam! And journaling is our jam, too!

Which brings us to keeping a book journal: the subject of this post.

A reading journal showing a list of To Be Read books

What are the Benefits of a Reading Journal?

Let’s back up for a moment shall we? Why do you need a separate reading journal, anyway?

Our reason: we’ve forgotten so many books.

That last sentence is so sad, though!

I don’t know about you, but when we read a book, we feel close to it. The story becomes a part of you as you travel through its pages. There’s a unique cooperation that happens between reader and book. You can walk away from a movie, or TV show, and it keeps playing. But a book needs the reader to enter into a type of covenant. If you close the book, the story stops moving. It stops existing in the mind of the reader.

So, when we say we’ve forgotten books? It’s like claiming an old friend never existed.

Keeping a reading journal can help keep those old friends alive!

However, there are also more practical reasons why keeping a reading journal to record the books you read is useful and important.

For one, it makes you feel like you actually accomplished something. And while that may seem like a small detail, a sense of accomplishment gives your brain a little reward, which is an important part of  establishing a new positive habit , or  even a keystone habit , and  improving your life .

If one of your goals is to read more or even become an avid reader, simply keeping a reading log could help.

Additionally, the act of writing down the title, the author and a couple of notes on the book, allows you to actually think more about the book.

Over time, we think you’ll find you love having that extra info about all the books you’ve read since you started your reading log or journal!

2018 Reading List: Journal Collection Template. A bullet journal collection page to track your books to read. #tbr #readmore #bujo


We’ve gone through the practical work of how you can start a reading journal below, but before we get into that, we want to share some tips for keeping a book journal.

The First Rule of Reading Journals is keep things simple

First and foremost, don’t try to create the most incredible and perfect reading log on your first try.

We all make mistakes. When many people start their reading journal the first time, they’re basically paralyzed by the fear of messing up with the first page, then the second one, the third one, and so on. You get the idea.

Don’t get stuck trying to create the perfect reading journal! Done is better than perfect, so just get started.

A hand holding a pen ready to take notes with a reading log of Agathie Christie books in the background

The best reading journals start with a notebook you love

There are so many amazing options out there! Some of the most popular are:

  • Traveler’s Notebook printable inserts
  • The Moleskine Passion Journal
  • This simple and affordable reading jour nal
  • (a personal favorite of mine) this free printable reading journal by Modern Mrs Darcy
  • A Bullet Journal®

The Bullet Journal® is probably the most popular option among journalers. It’s on the DIY side, but it’s very useful if you don’t need pages and pages for books review. You can also customize the journal to fit your needs.

Our choice, at least for this kind of reading journal, would be a  Leuchtturm1917 notebook . It’s a great journal for all sorts of journaling, but for this project the index will be very useful. We also love the two ribbon bookmarks.

Start with a simple list

Do you remember when we said lots of people are scared of imperfection when starting their very first reading journal?

Well, the advice we would give to you, would be to start with a list. 

In this case, a list of books you want to read and you already own could be a great start. The infamous TBR pile!

But you could also break it down further: sci-fi book TBR, for example, or book recommendations from friends that you’ve collected over the years.

A book journal opened to a page that says 2016 and includes a list of books read as a reading log

Find some inspiration

The internet is a wonderful place… Just typing “reading journal” on Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram would give you plenty of results to find some inspiration. The Instagram hashtag called  #bujoforbooklovers  is a great source of inspiration. Follow the hashtag itself to keep yourself updated.

Keep it simple

This is a little reminder, once again, not to compare your journal to the others. Sure, find some inspiration, but also do what it feels good to you. Mistakes happen, and you can’t start a new journal all over again every time you mess things up, so at some point you’ll need to go with the flow!

If you are dead set on having a beautiful-looking journal, stickers are a great way to add a little color and whimsy, without the pressure of achieving perfection. Not surprisingly, there are a ton of Etsy sellers offering cute stickers for sale , making it a good go-to first place to look!

A beautiful notebook opened to a page with floral decorations and a title that says Books suggesting a Reading Journal or Book Journal

A Peek Inside Megan’s Book Journal

Megan started keeping a reading journal years ago, writing down as many past books as she could remember, and then adding new books as she read them.

But after she started  bullet journaling , she became dissatisfied with the structure of her reading journal. It was really just a list of books with no sense of time or order. She needed room to expand, add her own thoughts, and index book reviews, TBR lists, or any other reading related collection she might like to add.

If you follow PageFlutter, you know creative writing is a passion here! Not only do we run a 6-word story challenge on  Instagram , but  we also use our journal to improve our writing . It’s not enough to read books. A writer must study them, refer back to them, even dissect them.

With this in mind, Megan painstakingly recopied her reading journal–using the bullet journal framework–and now we can share it with you!

Below, we’ll show you how to make a simple reading journal to inspire, organize, and catalogue your reading experiences. It’s such a simple project to start, but it will give you many years of happy journaling.

For our reading journal we used:

  • Leuchtturm1917 A5 Hardcover (white, grid lined) : Ordinarily, we prefer the dot grid pages for journaling, but Megan got this one for free due to a mixup, and it ended up being perfect.
  • Our trusty Sharpie pen : They make clean, dark lines on the page and they’re much cheaper than art pens.
  • Westcott 6 inch craft ruler :  No matter how many rulers we try, we keep coming back to this little guy. It fits perfectly in the back pocket of the notebook, and we like the grid to help with alignment.
  • Graphite paper (optional)

How Do You Make a Reader’s Journal?

We used a bullet journal structure for my book journal pages.

We like the Bullet Journal® system because it’s flexible, efficient, and highly customizable. Whether you want an artistic journal or a minimalist approach to note taking, bullet journaling is flexible enough that you can make it work. And that includes using it to keep reading logs, goals, your own unique rating system…whatever.

Since Megan already keeps a daily bullet journal, adapting the style for her reading journal was a snap.


Index in a book journal with a ruler and Sharpie pen shown

What Should Be in a Reading Journal?

The index is one of our favorite parts of the Bullet Journal® system. It pulls the whole system into order.

In the photo above, you’ll see that Megan indented the lines for each year of books. The top line, “Goodreads’ 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” is flush left, but each year is indented.

You don’t have to align your index like this if you don’t want to, but it helps separate the annual book log from “To Be Read” or future reading lists, books reviews, reading challenges, books you’ve abandoned, great quotes from books that you want to remember, book suggestions from friends, recommended reading lists for your kids, books from your book clubs, all-time favorites, specific notes, and so forth.

In practical terms when setting it up, Megan used a light pencil line as a guide for where to anchor the “Books Read in [year]” subheaders.

LT1917 notebooks  have a pre-printed index (one of the many reasons we love and recommend them!).

If your notebook doesn’t have a pre-printed index, leave a few pages plank before starting page 1.

What About To Be Read (TBR) Lists?

After combing through about 21,310 ultimate reading lists online (give or take 21,300), Megan finally picked  Goodreads’ “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime”  for page 1 of this reading journal.

The list covers everything from contemporary YA to the classics of 10th-grade English. If it’s been a long time since you read some of these titles, you can leave them unchecked so you can re-read them.

A detail of a book journal page showing books on the GoodReads 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

Megan’s ideas was to add about 10-20 more versions of “Books to Read in a Lifetime” before this journal is all through.

What can we say? She likes lists!

She also planned to add her own TBR list (To Be Read) each year then catalogue the books she’s read with a short blurb (her opinion, a notable quote from the book, etc.).

TBR lists are handy for keeping a list of quality books you want to read, all ready for the next time you need it.

However, our advice is to not let your TBR list give you tunnel vision. If a book speaks to you that you want to read, but it isn’t on the list, read it! The list will always be there.

Example of reading journal layouts or reading journal spreads showing a 2016 reading log

Megan only began to formally journal her reading in 2015, so anything before that is recorded based on memory.

For each book, she lists the title, author and stars out of 5, and yes, there are a few half stars floating around the pages.

Hey, sometimes a girl just needs a half star!


You do NOT need to use any fancy headers. Let’s get rid of that pressure right now, m’kay?

However, she chose to add a little fanciness because she liked the way it looks in her journal.

We enjoy journaling more when we add small touches like nice lettering or a splash of color, but let’s not pretend fancy is more effective.

It’s just fun!

A detail of a 2016 reading journal layout

The font she used is based on an old stamp set by  Sassafrass Lass . We love the font, but the stamps ended up looking too small for this purpose. Megan used her printer to enlarge the letters and traced each one into the journal with graphite paper.

If need more help with this technique, check out the full tutorial .

Several years worth of hand traced headings for the top of reading journal pages

Unfortunately, these stamps were discontinued, so you can skip the extra steps she had to take in enlarging them.

Instead, grab a font you love at Creative Market . They have thousands of fonts to choose from. It doesn’t need to cost you anything (unless you’re like us and can’t resist all the pretties); they have free fonts & graphics you can grab each week.

Simply type your headers on your computer and trace them . Argh! Sooooo much easier!

Several years worth of year headers tucked in the pocket of the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook used as a book journal

When printing out headers for your annual reading log pages, it’s a good idea to print a few years in advance. It will save you from having to create new ones each year.

Megan also put a few sheets of graphite paper in an envelope and saved, oh, a few decades of header templates. Overkill? Ha!

She stashes it all in the back pocket of my Leuchtturm1917 and now always has what she needs to start a new year. Ready to read and record!

What Do You Put in a Reading Journal? Here Are Some More Reading Journal Ideas

Now that we’ve shared a real reading journal example, here are a couple of lists to consider as you start a reading journal of your own:

Reading goals or wish lists

It can be a simple number of books you’d like to read in a year, like the Goodreads Challenge, but it could also be a list of goals you’d like to achieve:

  • A certain genre, such as classic books, non-fiction books, or other favorite genres
  • Books from diverse authors (you could also get really niche with this, like “Books from Japanese Female writers)
  • An entire collection of novels from favorite authors (i.e. Read the entire work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
  • A curated collection, such as Oprah’s Book Club Picks for 2022

Reading challenges

There are so many reading challenges out there that you may even feel overwhelmed!

One of the most popular is the  Pop Sugar reading challenge , but we also recommend the one by  Modern Mrs Darcy , there are even some goodies to print and add to your journal!

Another challenge we would recommend is  #TheUnreadShelfProject  that will help you tackle your endless TBR pile of books. This one was born on Instagram, or Bookstagram if you’re a bookworm, and we highly recommend you to follow the hashtag if you’re interested in joining it.

Reading log

You can’t go wrong with a simple log to keep track of the books you’ve read during the year! This is our favorite way to record readings. Plus, since it’s so easy, you can even keep this simple list in your daily Bullet Journal if you don’t want to have a separate literary notebook.

Reading Journal Ideas and Layouts from Other Bloggers

  • Kristin of SuperSpaceChick shared her own beautiful  bookish bullet journal set up  on her channel and she also made a follow-up video with a  flip through  a couple of months later.


Brainstorm with me.

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29 thoughts on “how to start a reading journal (+ a peek inside my journal)”.

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I’ve used Goodreads to track my books read, books to read, etc. for several years now. I’ve been tempted to start tracking it in a journal like this (because I love lists, and like you – I feel sad when I realize I’ve forgotten a book I’ve already read). I’m just worried it’s something I’d start…and then never keep with it (like the million and one challenges I’ve started and never finished…).

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Nothing wrong with trying a project on for size. 🙂

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Oh my gosh, I LOVE this idea… I feel the need to do this… brb buying a new notebook!

Lol! I’d love to see your reading journal when you get it started. Feel free to post it on my FB page!

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I love this idea. My Goodreads list is huge and I’ve got a grid comp notebook that I’ve been trying to find a use for. This may be it!

I cross reference this journal with my Goodreads a lot. It’s a slightly different experience on paper.

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What a great idea, this will be my next new Bujo! (not that I’m addicted or anything!!)

No, none of us are. 😉

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Never thought of a journal for my books. Thanks for the inspiration. I will be starting on really soon. What are your thoughts on adding a section for notes, summary or reflection for each book.?

I started very simply, but lately I’ve been adding a little note about each book (a unique narrator, story premise, something the author does especially well, etc.). I think a section for notes and reflections is a great way of recording how you connected with a particular book. I love the idea, and I’m glad you brought it up!

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Ooh, neat! I used to record everything I read in school–because I was reading so much that I wouldn’t remember what it all was if I didn’t! I was thinking about that notebook and how much I liked looking back over it and I started one for current reading, starting with this year’s books. I set it up way simple: There’s a few pages at the front for the list and the stars, then each book gets a page where I stick a picture of it’s cover and just do, like, bullet points of whatever struck me about the book: the mood, what I liked and didn’t like, fav parts / characters / writing techniques. When it fills up, I’ll just start another, but maybe it’ll be more like yours!

I love the idea of devoting a page to each book! I’ve toyed with adding more to my pages, but having a simple log entry also has its merits. I may have to steal your idea of adding a picture of the cover, though1 🙂

Yeah, do it! It’s fun, useful, AND gives another excuse to use the printer!

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This is a great idea. I usually track my books and reviews on Goodreads, but I love that this is physical and can be pretty, too! Off to find a journal!

Hi, Prekrasan! I also use Goodreads, but I agree there’s something special about paper journaling. I get a real sense of connection with what I read (and my list is not at the mercy of the Internet gods)!

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I like this! I just moved to a new state and joined a book club! Someone in the group had a composition notebook of her thoughts as she read which I thought was awesome! I may blend the two ideas now, it’s been since high school that I’ve truly analyzed the books I’ve read.

Hi, Becca! Life is so much more interesting with a good book club. I hope starting your reading journal enhances the experience for you. Thanks for commenting, and I hope to see you here again soon (maybe with an update on your journal progress)! 🙂

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Hi! First of all super awesome blog post! I have a question. Do you write something in your journal as you go through the book? Or do you just write like a short comment when you have read the whole thing?

The reason I ask is because I usually read a lot of non-fiction (the power of habit, the gifts of imperfection). I read a lot on my kindle, and I try to highlight as much as I can there, but I haven’t been able to find a system that helps me organise those thoughts that come up when reading the book and sort of archive them so I can come back to them when needed. I usually just fall in the trap “This part is so good! I’ll never forget it!” and then, well…, you know, I do forget it 😛

Just to be clear, I don’t think the issue is that I read on the kindle, but more like I need a system for organising my thoughts during my reading. Although I usually read non-fiction, I do read fiction as well and I totally want to be able to archive somewhere interesting or funny quotes from characters, etc.

Anyway, thank you for time and your awesome work!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! You’re expressing so much of what I felt before I started my book journal. At first, I kept things very simple to avoid turning reading into a note-taking chore, so I limited myself to jotting down a rating and general thoughts about the book as a whole.

Now that I’ve gotten into a nice rhythm with it, I’ve started adding a few quotes (w/page number or location). I read both Kindle and paper books, flagging/highlighting memorable quotes as I go. But I don’t write anything in the journal until I’m finished with the book. I tend to be a little quote crazy, so I have to make myself wait and sort through the or half the book ends up in my journal!

Good luck with your reading journal, and let me know how the system works out for you! 🙂

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This is such an amazing idea!! I have always been an avid reader and try to read a couple books a month (at least I try)! I love the idea of bullet journaling but I haven’t committed to it yet, I can’t give up my planner mid-year. Haha! This is just what I have been looking for to organize my book lists, thoughts, quotes, and anything else I think of! Thank you so much!

Glad to help, Elizabeth! Many people keep their planners and add a separate journal just for lists. Make it your own and have fun. Let me know how your journal works out! 🙂

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I should probably do this. My list is on Goodreads because well, sorting and categorizing, but I like the idea of having a printed log that I can come back to later, especially if something were to ever happen to GR. Maybe someday soon, I will take on the task of migrating everything to a journal.

I agree, Goodreads has so many nice features; I use it, too. Somehow paper is an entirely different experience. Thanks for stopping by, Raybenair. Best of luck with your reading journal!

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One other reason for doing something like this. If, like me, you have a Kindle unlimited subscription, you can only borrow so many books at once, and although it keeps a record of which ones you’ve read, if (like me) you like the kind of books that come in series (scifi/fantasy) and you need to keep track of which ones you’ve read and what authors you like so you can keep on top of keeping up with them as they produce new books… (phew, that sentence was WAY too long)! then something like this is a must. 🙂

Yes, I completely agree! I read cozy mystery series sometimes, and it can be difficult to keep them all straight. Thanks for the comment, Liz. Happy journaling!

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how to write book journal

Louisa Deasey Author Logo

  • A Letter From Paris

keeping a daily journal is the first step in writing a memoir

How to turn your journals into a book

If you want to use your diaries or journals to start a book-length memoir, I’m going to give you three simple steps to turning diaries into a book.

Many wannabe authors get book deals from writing memoir essays for places such as Narratively, and then use the essay as a bounce-off point to work on a book.

I’ve used journal entries to form scenes, chapters and more for both my published memoirs as well as essays I published before each book was written, and this is how I started at the very beginning of the process of writing those memoirs.

1: Find your transformation or ‘challenge’

The first thing you need to do is find in your journals where you’ve chronicled the challenge or transformation you’re exploring in the book, or areas where you wrote about a specific experience you want to draw upon.

This challenge or transformation will be the main theme of your book or essay. It could be a health crisis, or emigration, or grief, or wild romance, or a meeting with a mentor or another key relationship that has changed you such as a love affair, a big creative venture, or major career feat (maybe you landed a dream job on the opposite side of the world and had to learn a new language to take it up?)… or a family discovery that set you out on a quest.

This isn’t your personal opinion on something (this might come later), but this is the overarching theme or topic that will appeal to the widest amount of readers as possible. You need to find the beginning and end of that transformation.

Once you’ve found the theme or challenge you want to write about, you’re going to start mining your diaries for gold.

TIP: Once you’ve decided on your transformational journey / topic / challenge you’re going to explore in your book-length work, look for the journal entries you made at the beginning of that process.

how to write book journal

2: Find your ‘point of view’ at the beginning of the transformation

Next, you’re going to look at who you were at the beginning of the ‘quest’ of the story. This is where you’re going to re-read your journals to see how your point of view has shifted and changed.

Your point of view is really important, because this is who you were when you began the journey. This is what will make up the beginning of the story.

Where were you living, what was your position in life, what was your relationship / career status, how were you feeling about life, what did you want, back then? What did you struggle with? What was ‘normal’ that then had to shift?

For example, if you are a Canadian woman who up and moved to Italy at age 25, who were you before you left Canada? What came before that huge decision? And what were your first impressions of Italy (could you even speak the language)?

Point of view is what draws the reader in.

The phrases and words you repeat around the subject is your ‘voice’ on the matter.

TIP: Find your journal entries around the time of the ‘beginning’ and highlight certain passages or phrases to use them to outline the first chapters of your memoir (or first paragraphs, if it’s an essay).

3: Mine your diaries for anecdotes, dialogue and details

Now that you’ve found the journal entries around the time of the challenge or quest, go through and highlight details that happened during key parts of the story, such as conflict, pain points or highlights. Details pull the reader into story.

For example, if you were the woman who emigrated to Italy from Canada, did you record any dialogue or first impressions of your new country during those first few weeks and months? What did your new country smell like, look like, feel like, in those early days? We’re incredibly perceptive when things are new. Similarly, first impressions of people, jobs, or the details we notice when shocking things have changed, can really be amazing in stories and scenes. I remember visiting a friend’s house just after she’d had a serious accident. Overnight, she’d gone from life to death, but the milk in her fridge was still fresh.

Use those key words, phrases and dialogue to prompt writing certain scenes and plot out how you dealt with the key ‘conflict’ of the story.

4: Outline your story using the Map Your Memoir method I teach

Now that you have some material to begin with, you’ll need to do some further work to deepen the outline so that it can form the backbone of your daily or weekly draft routine.

I teach a 5-step process called Map Your Memoir that takes you through the 5 fundamentals to a compelling book-length narrative: You can learn more about the process here. It’s just one of the lessons within my larger programme, The Art of Memoir, and it’s the perfect place to start if you are right at the beginning of your writing journey. It works for any style of narrative nonfiction.

Inside Map Your Memoir you’ll learn storytelling basics including:

The Story Hook The Two Desires The 3 Act Structure Your Universal Themes Your Basic Premise (& crafting a ‘focus sentence’) from that

You can learn more about Map Your Memoir and sign up for the course here.

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These are very simple black and white guides to begin. Thank you! Ive been writing for awhile but it is all just so disorganized and some of it is journaling memoirs but includes some fantastical dreaming to make the journey more full. These steps will help me to get a better handle on my draft.

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Good! I try to break it down into the simplest steps to start, because overwhelm is one of the most common feelings with memoir writing…

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I want to do this, but I have 132 journals and counting and there so many stories I could tell. I just really don’t know where to start.

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Thank you immensely for sharing this valuable information! I will attempt to take the ball and run with it; of course with God’s strength and many Graces!

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I have been journalling my days and thoughts since 1987, all labeled by year. Also writing memoir, but have yet to go back and read them all, yet they are full of experiences, thoughts, stories. Sometimes I feel I should just write daily using them as a prompt. My monkey mind has a hard time organizing. Love the transformation story as a way of going through them. Have not articulated that on my website. Still feeling the transformation- does it end?

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Amazing information! Thank you. I have a hundred plus journals and have wanted to create a book but have made stop/start attempts because it just seems so overwhelming. Your three steps will get me started.

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Thanks so much for sharing. This has help me get started…I have about 10+ years of journalling I wanted to find a way to share the information to help others over come challenges… Thanks again

Thanks so much for sharing. This has help me get started…I have about 10+ years of journalling I wanted to find a way to share the information to help others over come challenges…

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I’m so excited that I found this priceless information. Now I’ve got some kind of help beginning to turn 40 journals into my story. I’ve had the title to my story from my heavenly father for over 30 years. Look for the book at the end of this year called Elizabeth story from despair to delight.

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how to write book journal

Bona Fide Bookworm

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How to Start a Reading Journal: Step-By-Step Guide

Wondering how to start a reading journal? You’re not alone! Tons of book lovers these days have realized the benefits of keeping a reading journal, and luckily there are lots of easy methods to use to get started!

But since reading journals are so popular, there are also a lot of different options to consider. Which is, perhaps, unlucky if you’re new to the reading journal world and don’t know where to start. But I’ve got you covered—read on to learn what you need to know to choose and start your own reading journal!

A woman's hands shown as she writes in a blue notebook

What is a Reading Journal?

Wondering what a reading journal actually is? I talk in more depth about the concept of reading journals here , but in short they’re a dedicated place for you to record your response to and thoughts about books you’re reading. There’s lots of things you can record in a reading journal, but that’s the basics that it all comes down to!

Benefits of a Reading Journal

There are so many benefits of keeping a reading journal ! One of my favorite benefits is that I no longer forget or can’t find information about a book I read and loved but for the life of me can’t remember the title. The days of having to find a book from a vague description are over!

But reading journals also provide lots of other benefits, including better information retention, better reading comprehension, improved writing skills, are an outlet to process your feelings about what you read, and more.

How to Start a Reading Journal

Ok, so you know a little about reading journals now and the benefits of keeping one, but how do you actually start a reading journal? Here’s your step-by-step guide to how to set up a reading journal!

1. Choose Your Reading Journal Format

When looking to start a reading journal, it’s important to first decide on what format you want to use. By format, I mean do you want your journal to be physical or digital?

Once you’ve decided between the physical and digital mediums, you’ll also need to decide on a sub-format type. For instance, physical journals can look like a printable journal (you can get a free one here !), a premade reading journal, or a bullet journal (which allows you full control over what information you want to record).

If you decide to go the digital route, then you’ll need to decide between options like choosing a reading app, choosing a premade spreadsheet (you can buy the one I made and use myself here !), or creating your own spreadsheet from scratch.

Feeling overwhelmed by the options and don’t know where to start? That’s ok! I talk about some of the most popular reading trackers and apps here , so you can see some of the options available. Check it out to help you decide what method is best for you if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed with this first step!

2. Set Up Your Journal

The next step for how to create a reading journal is either a BIG one (if you’re doing it all from scratch yourself, like bullet journaling or setting up your own spreadsheet) or super easy (if you’re using a premade template or spreadsheet like mine ).

We’ll start with the easy part. If you decide to go the premade route by using a free or paid app, using a free or paid printable journal, buying a premade physical journal, or buying a premade spreadsheet, then all you need to do is open your new journal and start recording your books as you read! It’s that simple.

However, if you decide you want more control over what you track (or maybe even more artistic creativity) and go the self-made bullet journal or spreadsheet route, then you’re going to have a little more set-up to do before you can get to tracking your reading. You’re going to have to decide what to include in your journal and how you want it to look.

Some things you might want to add to your journal includes space for:

  • Title, author, and published date
  • Star Rating
  • Thoughts or notes
  • Reading Goals
  • Book Wish Lists
  • Reading Challenges (you could include a popular internet reading challenge or create your own challenge, and then mark each book off as you read).
  • TBR (To Be Read) List
  • Visual reading tracker (for bullet journals…make book outlines and fill them in with titles of books you’ve read)
  • Reading by month of the year
  • And lots more!

There are so many different and fun reading journal ideas for things to include in your custom bullet journal spreads, and as for spreadsheets, whatever data your heart desires to track can be included!

I recommend you start simple and see what works well and what information you actually want to use, and then the more you use your journal the more data or fun bullet journal spreads you can add in once you get the hang of it.

3. Start a Routine for Journaling

Lastly, a reading journal how-to wouldn’t be complete without talking about creating some sort of routine for your journaling to make sure you actually use your new journal. Creating a reading journal is only the start of the journey!

My routine consists of religiously entering the books I’ve read into my journaling spreadsheet as soon as I finish a book, because otherwise there’s a big chance that book won’t make it into my records. And then I won’t be able to find it again if I can’t remember it…or if I need to look up a detail about it I forgot.

Your reading book journal routine doesn’t have to be the same as mine, but choosing a time or habit to help trigger the action of journaling can be a big help, especially in the early days of journaling. Later on it will eventually become habitual, but in the beginning you’re going to need to make an effort and start creating journaling as a good reading habit .

Final Thoughts About Starting a Reading Journal

In the end, the best reading journal is one you actually will use. It doesn’t have to be the fanciest, it just has to capture your fancy. Maybe that means you make it really simple and practical or go with a premade version that means you don’t have to deal with all the setup. Or maybe that means you want creative control or are more likely to use it if it’s beautiful and artistic (like bullet journaling!)

Ultimately, the decision is up to you…but the only way to get the benefit of using a reading journal is to actually use it! So go discover the method that works for you , and get started with your very own reading journal!

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how to write book journal

How to Start Writing a Book of Your Life: A Quick Guide

T hanks to easier and easier avenues of publication, we’re publishing growing numbers of books year over year. According to some estimates, around 4 million new book titles are released each year worldwide, or almost 11,000 every day!

If you’re hoping to write a book of your own, these figures are good news. Whether you want to get your book out through a major publisher or an indie brand, there’s no better time to do it.

However, that doesn’t mean knowing how to start writing a book of your life will be easy! You may know the events of your own life better than anyone else, but structuring them into a coherent and engaging narrative can be tougher than it sounds. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to know as you start your writing journey.

Start Generating Ideas

Before you dive too far into dreams of publication, start creating material for your book!

If you keep diligent journals, coming up with ideas for your life story is a breeze. Comb through them to refresh your memory and pin down the most important events you want to cover.

Don’t worry about coming up with the right words or using your writing skills yet. For now, the important thing is to look for things you’d like to include in your book.

If you don’t keep a journal, one of the easiest ways to come up with thoughts on your life story is a process called free-writing. Through free-writing, you’ll jot down every thought that pops into your mind about your life.

As with other brainstorming approaches, it’s important not to criticize or cull your ideas at this stage. Taking time to judge your thoughts hampers the idea generation process. Later, once you’ve had time to get out all of your thoughts and memories, you’ll have time to pick out the best ideas.

Decide on the Basics

With a better idea of the main events of your memoir, it’s time to consider a few basic traits of your book.

Nonfiction vs Fictionalized

If you’re hoping to create an accurate account of your life, a nonfiction book will be your best bet. Through research and organization, you can nail down the facts as they happened in real life.

However, if you’d like a freer approach, fictionalizing your memoir can make your book more experimental and even playful. It can also help protect your identity or the identities of the people you’ll discuss.

It’s also possible to further narrow down your book by genre. Full autobiographies, for example, focus mostly on the longer story of a person’s life. Memoirs, on the other hand, often focus on memories of a specific time or event in a person’s life.

From there, it’s possible to narrow your focus even further. Culinary biographies, for example, may focus on how foods or cooking impacted the writer’s life. Religious autobiographies might focus on the spiritual experiences of a writer.

Choosing overarching themes can help you streamline your story as you write. Good themes also make a book more appealing and engaging for readers, as they make a narrative easier to follow. In addition, marketing a book can become more effective once you know which themes to showcase in your blurbs.

Supplement With Research

Depending on the type of autobiographical or memoir writing you choose, you may also want to do some extra research. This can be even more crucial if you’re detailing events that happened a long time ago, as memories aren’t always accurate!

Can you find old photos of your settings to include in your book and help you describe your surroundings? Are there hazy memories you can clear up by speaking to a friend or family member? Can a map of a city you once lived in help you refresh your memory and position the events of your story?

Create an Outline

At this stage, it’s time to organize your messy journals, free-writing, and notes into an outline you can write with.

This is often easier said than done! It’s true that the main “plot” of your memoir is clear, as you’re using the events of your life, but that doesn’t always make it easy to decide which details to include and when to add them. Take some time to figure out which events are most important, which ones follow your themes, and which ones you can discard.

Write a First Draft

Now comes the messy and fun part of writing a memoir: the actual writing!

Start creating a first draft of your story. It’s fine for this draft to be a little disorganized and long-winded. The important thing is to create something you can build upon in future drafts.

However, what happens if you don’t trust your writing skills?

Jotting down your first draft may still help, but you can also hire a ghostwriter to create the final story on your behalf. These experts can polish your work into something much easier to publish and market. Do your research on how to hire a ghostwriter , however, as the right partner will make or break your book!

Proofread and Refine

Last, proofread and refine your book. This part can take a while, often much longer than the first draft, so be prepared to spend a while on the details.

In addition, it’s a good idea to get help while you refine your work! Writing coaches, ghostwriters, and beta readers can give you valuable feedback, helping you create a richer and more focused story.

Know How to Start Writing a Book of Your Life

Creating a memoir or autobiography is easier said than done. With so many life events, themes, time periods, and characters to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down your story into a focused final piece. Fortunately, the tips above can help you understand how to start writing a book of your life, allowing you to create a final manuscript worth sending to publishers.

If you’re looking for more great tips on writing books and beyond, be sure to check out our other posts for additional insights.

This article is published by NYTech in collaboration with Syndication Cloud.

How to Start Writing a Book of Your Life: A Quick Guide

Journaling For Mental Health: How To Do It Effectively To Improve Mood And Well-Being

Here's what the science says.

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“Journaling can be a powerful way to organize your thoughts, feelings, and ideas, leading to increased self-awareness, self-discovery, and growth,” says Jaci Witmer Lopez, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist based in New York City. “In my practice, I've seen firsthand how regular journaling can transform lives.”

Maybe you've kept a fitness journal in the past to help you stay on track toward your wellness goals, or you currently have a gratitude journal to stay grounded. There are travel journals to help you document your adventures, and if you’re less artistically inclined, there are even journaling apps to help you stay mindful on the go. Below, experts share the benefits of journaling for mental health, how to start one yourself, and specific writing prompts for inspiration.

Meet the experts: Jaci Witmer Lopez, PsyD , is a clinical psychologist based in New York City. Marc Campbell, LMHC , is a licensed therapist based in Orlando, Florida, and the author of I Love My Queer Kid .

Common Benefits Of Journaling

Apart from having a dedicated place for juicy diary entries, there are several general benefits of journaling. The practice has been shown to help people process stressful events, according to a study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine . In another study about college students, researchers found that journaling may improve self-efficacy —in other words, it can help you believe in yourself. Writing has even been studied as a behavioral intervention for children—so if you have kiddos at home, encouraging them to write may not be such a bad idea.

Common benefits of journaling include:

  • Finding inspiration
  • Creative expression
  • Tracking your goals
  • Fun freewriting
  • General reflection
  • Brainstorming ideas

5 Mental Health Benefits Of Journaling

Apart from its general benefits, here's how journaling can impact your mental health, specifically, according to experts.

1. It can help you process (and learn from) your emotions.

“Remembering the events from your day—both the ups and the downs—can help your brain practice processing and regulating your emotions,” says Marc Campbell, LMHC, a licensed therapist based in Orlando, Florida. For instance, if you’re feeling rejected from a recent breakup or you're burned out at work, writing about how you feel and reading it back to yourself can help you process the difficult emotions. Journaling can also help you recognize certain patterns, practice more acceptance, and have more empathy for yourself, Campbell says.

2. It can help you heal from traumatic events.

Journaling can significantly impact your ability to process and heal from trauma, Lopez says. “ Research has shown that writing can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” she says. “When you write things down as opposed to just thinking about them, you hold yourself accountable to reframing or changing your narrative.” Although the mental health effects of trauma won’t disappear by simply writing down how you feel, journaling can be a helpful practice in addition to seeking therapy and trauma treatment .

3. It may help you manage anxiety and depression.

Anxiety and depression are among the most commonly cited mental health struggles in America, per the American Psychological Association (APA). And although having a writing practice won't cure these conditions overnight, journaling may have the potential to decrease depression and anxiety and improve resilience over time, according to a recent study . Plus, if you’re struggling to find meaning in everyday life or you feel generally disengaged—both of which are common experiences when facing mental health challenges— some studies suggest that journaling may help.

4. It can help you track your therapy progress.

If you're seeing a therapist right now, journaling can help you check in with yourself daily or weekly about how it’s going—or even help you hold yourself accountable for certain behaviors you’d like to change, Campbell says. “Through the process of journaling, you can reflect on past entries and potentially learn about any patterns you have,” he says.

You can also use a journal to reflect on what, exactly you speak about during your therapy sessions and begin to process how you’re feeling about it, Lopez adds. An added benefit? One day, you can look back at your journal and celebrate how far you've come.

5. It can help you practice self-compassion.

Whether you're dealing with a specific mental health issue or you're simply feeling overwhelmed, negative self-talk, shame, and embarrassment are common. It can be difficult to be kind to yourself, however, practicing self-compassion can go a long way, experts say. A recent study in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology found that daily journaling as a mindfulness practice led to increased levels of self-compassion, and another study on registered nurses found that journaling can boost compassion and help manage burnout.

How To Start Journaling For Mental Health

If you aren't someone who spilled your heart out in a childhood diary, don't worry—journaling can be as simple as jotting things down on your phone, in a notebook, or responding to a specific prompt to get inspiration (more on that soon).

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to journal, but it should be a personal process, Campbell says. “I recommend starting journaling in the way that feels most authentic to you. If you prefer pen and paper, start with that. If you prefer typing things out in your notes app, that works, too. If you aren’t sure, try both and more—a laptop or even typewriter if you’re feeling adventurous,” he says. Also, writing for mental health is personal, but you shouldn't feel pressured to document your whole life story all at once (unless you want to).

Whether you incorporate journaling into your morning routine or you attempt five minutes before bedtime to free-write, experts recommend starting slow. “If you're new to journaling, my advice is to start small and be patient with yourself. Set aside just a few minutes a day to begin with, and gradually increase the time as you build the habit. It’s important to find a method that you'll stick with consistently," Lopez says. Try to pace yourself and make the practice as manageable as possible so that it becomes a habit formed over time, she adds.

10 Journal Prompts For Mental Health

  • What was the highlight of my day?
  • What was a lot moment of my day?
  • What's a challenge I'm facing right now?
  • What people, places, or things am I grateful for and why?
  • Who is someone that's inspired me lately and why?
  • What are three things I'm proud of myself for, and why?
  • What is a small act of kindness I can do for myself this week?
  • What is one limiting belief I have about myself? (And is there a way I can begin to reframe it)?
  • Describe something you are struggling with. Then, read it from the perspective of someone you care about. What would they have to say about it?
  • If I could change an aspect of my mental health and well-being right now, what would it be and why?

When it comes to journaling for mental health, consistency is key. Whatever method, prompt, or format you choose, your mental health will thank you.

Best Journals For Mental Health

The Five Minute Journal

The Five Minute Journal

Looking for a simple, sleek journal that will help you practice more mindfulness and gratitude? This popular option might be a good fit for you. It encourages you to cultivate a sense of calm for just five minutes a day, but there are plenty of helpful tools packed into the journal itself—like prompts, daily highlights, weekly challenges, affirmations, and more. If you're brand new to journaling for mental health, this one provides clear cues and outlines to help you self-reflect and feel more confident. Plus, it's aesthetically pleasing. What could be better?

The Big Feelings Survival Guide

The Big Feelings Survival Guide

This colorful, activity-filled workbook by licensed art therapist Alyse Ruriani, LPC, is a great option if you're ready to dive into mental health in a fun, accessible, yet meaningful way. The workbook includes practical and creative activities that are all rooted in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which, ICYMI, is a revolutionary treatment that helps people move through emotions. Not only will you gain major insight about your mental health journey, but the workbook itself is super bright and engaging—the helpful illustrations and eye-opening exercises are sure to help you reflect and gain inspiration.

Self-Love Workbook for Women

Self-Love Workbook for Women

This self-love workbook by therapist Megan Logan, LCSW, is uniquely designed to help you release self-doubt and have more self-compassion. The journal includes quizzes, writing prompts, and fun activities to help you cultivate more self-love, like writing a message to your younger self and making a "happy playlist." You'll also find empowering affirmations for those days when your mental health isn't so good—plus, the journal provides helpful resources for goal-tracking, identifying emotions, and embracing who you are.

90-Day Mental Health Journal

90-Day Mental Health Journal

This easy-to-follow journal encourages you to care for your mental health in a holistic way. If you're dealing with stress, anxiety, or uncertainty about the future, the journal claims to help you self-reflect and gain self-awareness while focusing on the power of the present moment. This journal is ideal for anyone who wants to breathe, reconnect with themselves, and cultivate more mindfulness. It comes with grounding activities and daily check-ins to help you keep track of your emotions—and understand their roots.

Headshot of Lexi Inks

Lexi Inks (she/her) is a lifestyle journalist based in Jacksonville, Florida. She has reported on countless topics, including sexual wellness, astrology, relationship issues, non-monogamy, mental health, pop culture, and more. In addition to Women’s Health, her work has been published on Bustle, Cosmopolitan, Well + Good, Byrdie, Popsugar, and others. As a queer and plus-size woman with living with mental illness, Lexi strives for intersectionality and representation in all of her writing. She holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Jacksonville University, which she has chosen to make everyone’s problem.

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Trump promotes Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless The USA Bible': What to know about the book and its long journey

how to write book journal

  • Former president Donald Trump encourages supporters to buy Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA Bible," a project inspired by Nashville country musician's hit song.
  • Resurgent version of Greenwood's Bible project a modified version from original concept, a change that likely followed 2021 shake-up in publishers.

After years with few updates about Lee Greenwood’s controversial Bible, the project is again resurgent with a recent promotion by former President Donald Trump.

“All Americans need to have a Bible in their home and I have many. It’s my favorite book,” Trump said in a video posted to social media Tuesday, encouraging supporters to purchase the “God Bless The USA Bible.” “Religion is so important and so missing, but it’s going to come back.”

Greenwood — the Nashville area country musician whose hit song “God Bless the USA” inspired the Bible with a similar namesake — has long been allies with Trump and other prominent Republicans, many of whom are featured in promotional material for the “God Bless The USA Bible.” But that reputational clout in conservative circles hasn’t necessarily translated to business success in the past, largely due to a major change in the book’s publishing plan.

Here's what to know about the Bible project’s journey so far and why it’s significant it’s back in the conservative limelight.

An unordinary Bible, a fiery debate

The “God Bless The USA Bible” received heightened attention since the outset due to its overt political features.

The text includes the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Pledge of Allegiance, and the lyrics to the chorus to Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA.” Critics saw it as a symbol of Christian nationalism, a right-wing movement that believes the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation.

A petition emerged in 2021 calling Greenwood’s Bible “a toxic mix that will exacerbate the challenges to American evangelicalism.” From there, a broader conversation ensued about the standards by which publishers print Bibles.

Gatekeeping in Bible publishing

Greenwood’s early business partner on the project, a Hermitage-based marketing firm called Elite Source Pro, initially reached a manufacturing agreement with the Nashville-based HarperCollins Christian Publishing to print the “God Bless The USA Bible.”  

As part of that agreement, HarperCollins would publish the book but not sell or endorse it. But then HarperCollins reversed course , a major setback for Greenwood’s Bible.

The reversal by HarperCollins followed a decision by Zondervan — a publishing group under HarperCollins Christian Publishing and an official North American licensor for Bibles printed in the New International Version translation — to pass on the project. HarperCollins said the decision was unrelated to the petition or other public denunciations against Greenwood’s Bible.

The full backstory: Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless the USA Bible' finds new printer after HarperCollins Christian passes

A new translation and mystery publisher

The resurgent “God Bless The USA Bible” featured in Trump’s recent ad is an altered version of the original concept, a modification that likely followed the publishing shake-up.

Greenwood’s Bible is now printed in the King James Version, a different translation from the original pitch to HarperCollins.

Perhaps the biggest mystery is the new publisher. That manufacturer is producing a limited quantity of copies, leading to a delayed four-to-six weeks for a copy to ship.  

It’s also unclear which business partners are still involved in the project. Hugh Kirkman, who led Elite Service Pro, the firm that originally partnered with Greenwood for the project, responded to a request for comment by referring media inquiries to Greenwood’s publicist.

The publicist said Elite Source Pro is not a partner on the project and the Bible has always been printed in the King James Version.

"Several years ago, the Bible was going to be printed with the NIV translation, but something happened with the then licensor and the then potential publisher. As a result, this God Bless The USA Bible has always been printed with the King James Version translation," publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement.

Westby did not have the name of the new licensee who is manufacturing the Bible.

Trump’s plug for the “God Bless The USA Bible” recycled language the former president is using to appeal to a conservative Christian base.

“Our founding fathers did a tremendous thing when they built America on Judeo-Christian values,” Trump said in his video on social media. “Now that foundation is under attack perhaps as never before.”

'Bring back our religion’: Trump vows to support Christians during Nashville speech

Liam Adams covers religion for The Tennessean. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media @liamsadams.

how to write book journal

Journal of Materials Chemistry A

Embedded 3d printing of rgo frameworks with mechanical strength, and electrical and electromagnetic interference shielding properties †.

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* Corresponding authors

a National Special Superfine Powder Engineering Research Center, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing 210094, China E-mail: [email protected] , [email protected]

b Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Condensed Matter Physics at Extreme Conditions, High Magnetic Field Laboratory, HFIPS, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hefei 230031, Anhui, China

The three-dimensional (3D) printing technique is used to efficiently design the structure of 3D graphene assemblies and give them extraordinary properties. However, directly constructing 3D graphene assemblies with complex structures using direct ink writing (DIW) 3D printing is still limited. Herein, we demonstrate a strategy for directly constructing microstructurally porous or dense 3D reduced graphene oxide (RGO) frameworks with an octet-truss structure using embedded 3D printing combined with freeze-drying or capillary-drying, respectively. Reasonable structural design and self-assembled RGO sheets contribute to endowing RGO frameworks with mechanical strength and electrical properties. The freeze-dried RGO framework (F-RGF) has an electrical conductivity of 131.85 S m −1 and a compressive strength of 35.42 kPa at 50% strain. Moreover, the properties of the RGO framework are changed by altering its drying method. Compared with F-RGF, the capillary-dried RGO framework (C-RGF) has a higher electrical conductivity of 863.77 S m −1 and a higher compressive strength of 3.23 MPa. At a thickness of 2.8 mm, low-conducting F-RGF and high-conducting C-RGF exhibit good electromagnetic interference shielding effectiveness (EMI SE) in the frequency range of 18–40 GHz, with total SE (SE T ) values up to 72.87 dB and 63.48 dB, respectively. This work provides a reference for constructing 3D assemblies with multi-level structures and exhibits the possibility of structural changes for different applications.

Graphical abstract: Embedded 3D printing of RGO frameworks with mechanical strength, and electrical and electromagnetic interference shielding properties

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Embedded 3D printing of RGO frameworks with mechanical strength, and electrical and electromagnetic interference shielding properties

Y. Wang, J. Luo, C. Yang, L. Xiao, G. Hao, S. Wang and W. Jiang, J. Mater. Chem. A , 2024, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D4TA00458B

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How will Don Winslow's RI crime saga end? Find out when the famed writer comes to Westerly

Bestselling novelist Don Winslow will visit Westerly on April 4 to celebrate the publication of "City in Ruins," the conclusion of his organized crime trilogy partly set in Rhode Island and the final book of his writing career, as he pivots to politics .

Winslow will talk about "City in Ruins" at the 6 p.m. United Theatre event , moderated by Ocean House Author Series host Deborah Goodrich Royce, and will sign copies of his book afterward. Tickets are $38 for the talk plus a signed, personalized copy of the book, or $10 for the talk only.

"City in Ruins," which will be released April 2, completes the Danny Ryan series that began in 2022 with "City on Fire" and continued in 2023 with "City of Dreams." The three are Winslow's only books set in the state where he grew up.

"City in Ruins" finds Ryan, the former dock worker, Irish mob soldier and fugitive from the law, living large as a Las Vegas casino mogul and billionaire silent partner in a group that owns two lavish hotels. But when he tries to buy a piece of prime real estate to build his dream resort, he sets off a chain of events that draws the attention of some old enemies bent on revenge.

Winslow was born in New York City but grew up in Rhode Island, mostly in the Perryville section of South Kingstown. He now divides his time between California and his restored family home in Perryville.

He is the author of 25 bestsellers, including the "Cartel" trilogy set in the brutal drug wars on the Mexican border. But Winslow is leaving writing behind to pursue another passion: full-time political activism to oppose the reelection of former President Donald Trump and other MAGA politicians .

For tickets to the 6 p.m. event at the United Theatre, 5 Canal St., go to or call (401) 388-8208.


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  1. Book Journaling: What It Is and How to Get Started

    Visit Instagram. Outlined in both her Instagram post above and her book, Creatively Productive, the process is this: " (1) Read and highlight the book (2) Choose colors and objects that represent or mimic the tone or mood of the book (3) Write the title similarly as it is on the book (4) Jot down my favorite quotes, words, phrases, literary ...

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    Add A Doodle or Sketch - Adding drawings and sketches that you've drawn is a great way to make your journal feel even that much more personal. Stickers and Washi Tape - You can use stickers or washi tape to add color and interest to your first page. You can also use them to create a border or frame around your page.

  3. How to Write Journal Entries for a Book: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Journal entries can be written in any format, but it is important to be consistent with your format. The most common format for journal entries includes the date, time, and a brief description of the entry. When writing a journal entry for a book, it is important to include the title of the book, the author, and the page number.

  4. How to Write a Journal: 6 Tips to Get Started

    4 Advantages of Keeping a Journal. Julia Cameron, acclaimed author of The Artist's Way and more recently a 6-week program outlined in a book called Write for Life, begins the writing and artistic life with a practice she calls morning pages. In essence, she suggests writing three pages each morning to explore ideas and life, and to clear the mind.

  5. How To Create A Book Journal

    3. Create the layout. Now that you've picked a journal style and decided what you want to include, it's time to lay it out. One line per book: This is how I track my reading. Using a lined journal, I record one book per line. This means that I limit my format to book title, author's name, and date read.

  6. How to Journal

    Your writing will teach you what you need. For example, I used to write in a small lined journal and over the years, my writing longed for larger, open, clear spaces to fill. Now I use an 8 ½ by 11 blank page sketchbook, spiral bound and I keep my pilot pen in the spine of the journal.

  7. How to Start Journaling: 7 Tips & Techniques for Beginners

    3. Stream of consciousness/free writing journaling. Many writers use free writing as a warm-up before jumping into their novel or other long-form text. But it can be a useful tool for starting a journal, too. With stream-of-consciousness journaling, you write down thoughts as they flow through your mind.

  8. How To Write A Journal: In 7 Simple Steps

    Step 4: Don't Stop To Edit. While writing a journal entry, don't stop to edit yourself or edit for punctuation until the buzzer sounds. Editing and journaling are different activities. Also, journal entries are for you alone, so it doesn't matter if you write a stream-of-consciousness.

  9. What is a Book Journal and How do you get Started?

    In order to make your journal attractive you will need to add some colour. Many opt to use a key of colour. For example, you could write in RED for crime, BLUE for memoir, and PINK when discussing Romance. You could list your books in one colour, write your plot reviews in another, and use yet a third for character analysis.

  10. 10 Ways to Enhance Your Fiction Writing through Journaling

    Lisa Tener is an award-winning book coach, creativity catalyst and author of the book The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day. Lisa has helped thousands of aspiring writers and authors access their creativity, find their voice and write and publish groundbreaking nonfiction books through her coaching services and ...

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    43. If you're thinking about starting a reading journal, look no further than this ultimate guide to book journals. You'll find book journal ideas, reading journal examples, prompts, and thoughts on why you should start a book log to improve your reading life. Over the last year, I've really embraced the idea of using a reading journal.

  12. How to Write a Journal: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

    To begin writing in your journal, label your first entry with the date, time and, optionally, location. For instance, you might start with "Monday, January 1, 1.00p.m., Bedroom". Next, if you'd like to, write a salutation. Many journal-writers like to use "Dear Journal" or a similar greeting to start each entry.

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    Eric Maisel, PhD, is widely regarded as America's foremost creativity coach and has written extensively on the challenges of the creative life.His books specifically for writers include Deep Writing, Write Mind, Living the Writer's Life, A Writer's Space, A Writer's Paris, and A Writer's San Francisco.. Maisel is the author of 50+ books, among them The Power of Daily Practice ...

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    2. Choose a medium. There are two main routes you can go with a book journal: You can write in a physical journal, or you can take your writing online with a blog. Some people prefer the personal touch of a physical book, while others swear by the convenience and accessibility of a web publication.

  15. The Complete Guide To Bullet Journaling For Writers

    1. Number your pages and create an index. The first thing you need to do in your blank notebook is number the pages. This is to help you keep track of where everything is as you add to the journal. After you've done this, create an index at the front of your journal (we recommend using a two-page spread).

  16. How to Journal: 5 Pro Tips and 40 Prompts to Get You Started

    Remove the inner critic. The act of journaling is deeply personal, a conversation between you and the paper (or screen). One of the quickest ways to inhibit this free-flowing exchange is to censor yourself. Censorship puts up barriers between your innermost thoughts and the journal in front of you.

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    Writing in a journal is a great way to destress, but starting one can be daunting. In this video, we'll show you some of our favorite tips on how to journal....

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    2. Track the types of books you've read. Keeping a book tracker or reading log is helpful for keeping track of your reading habits, revealing whether you're more into mysteries, thrillers, historical non-fiction, or novels. 3. Stay on top of reading goals. Keeping a reading tracker is all about being able to measure your progress and keep ...

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    The Bullet Journal® is probably the most popular option among journalers. It's on the DIY side, but it's very useful if you don't need pages and pages for books review. You can also customize the journal to fit your needs. Our choice, at least for this kind of reading journal, would be a Leuchtturm1917 notebook.

  20. How to turn your journals into a book

    1: Find your transformation or 'challenge'. The first thing you need to do is find in your journals where you've chronicled the challenge or transformation you're exploring in the book, or areas where you wrote about a specific experience you want to draw upon. This challenge or transformation will be the main theme of your book or essay.

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    1. Choose Your Reading Journal Format. When looking to start a reading journal, it's important to first decide on what format you want to use. By format, I mean do you want your journal to be physical or digital? Once you've decided between the physical and digital mediums, you'll also need to decide on a sub-format type.

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    According to some estimates, around 4 million new book titles are released each year worldwide, or almost 11,000 every day! If you're hoping to write a book of your own, these figures are good news.

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