8 Journaling Ideas to Start Today (And Why It’s Good For You)

8 Journaling Ideas to Start Today (And Why It’s Good For You)

I make it no secret that I love paper products. Journals, notebooks and sketchbooks are included in that category so I have many of them.

Beyond my love for paper, I’ll advocate journaling because it’s actually good for you. And paper journaling is doubly good because hand writing is also proven to be beneficial (but I’ll save that for another day). Depending on what you journal there are a myriad of reasons why. From organizing your thoughts, to dumping other thoughts, to working out ideas, and reflecting on ideas – these are all valuable whether you do it for personal reasons or professional ones there are plenty of reasons to write.

But, because I love paper I had a habit of buying journals, or just all the cute notebooks in Target, getting them home and letting them sit. I had no idea what to journal about. But, today I write many things into many notebooks and I have several other ideas for using journals.


Grateful Statements

Just before I was diagnosed with cancer, I began writing down 3 things I was grateful for everyday. And at first it was difficult to come up with different things everyday and after about a month of doing it, it not only became easier but I found it put me in a better mood. This was essential I think in staying positive through my diagnosis and ever since.

After 6 months of diligent writing, I found I was letting the habit slip but also found I was doing it instead in my mind, throughout the day. Purposefully being thankful for anything that popped into my head. Now, I still don’t do it everyday but on days where I’m feeling moody or down, I make a point of writing grateful statements. Within a day or two I notice a big difference.

Morning Pages

This comes directly from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. It’s in one of her first chapters and the first thing she recommends any artist does. She also says those who put it off and resist doing it are the ones that need it the most. I wholeheartedly agree. I was one of those that resisted it. But I really wanted to put effort into it, and have found it’s essential for me to do if I want to do any creative thinking or meditation.
I’ve also found if I go back and read through them (with trepidation), there are patterns I need to pay attention to and attitudes of my own that I need to address.
The idea is, when you wake in the morning, the first thing you do is write three pages of free flow writing. Whatever comes to mind, goes down on the paper. It need not be in full sentences or even make sense, but everything gets written down. It feels silly, like a waste of time, and completely worthless but it is the opposite. I promise.

Brain Dump

This may sound similar to morning pages but it’s not. I always do a brain dump as I prepare my plans for the week. Everything that I want to get done. It’s then easier for me to prioritize those things and schedule them. I also do the same thing monthly and at my 90 days goal planning time, and my yearly planning time.

The other way I use a brain dump is when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It is instantly relieving for me to list out everything that is on my mind. Often I use my planner’s note pages for this but when it’s not available I use the notes app on my phone. It’s like writing it down releases it from my brain and I no longer have to think about it.



I have a journal that I write in almost every day and all it contains are my thoughts. Things that are on my mind that I might be wrestling with, ideas I am exploring, the way I’m feeling and why, my concerns, interactions with others that I want to think about, ideas from books, connections I make in my morning reading of the Bible to my own life or between the readings, prayers I have, my weekly wows, and grateful statements. It is this journal I use the most and I treasure the most.



This most typically is my sketchbook. I not only sketch there but also write out ideas, things I want to pursue or try, thumbnails of ideas, reflection of my process on an art piece, my own critiques of my art, and written descriptions of the art I am working on – how I want it to feel, what it reminds me of etc.


Goals and Affirmations

I am lumping these together because I put them together in the same notebook. On one side of the notebook spread, I put my goals for 1 and 10 years from now and on the facing side I put affirmations. Affirmations are much like grateful statements. They do a world of good for your attitude and putting them together with my goals, I’ve found it to be self-fulfilling.

An example of a goal I have is to show my work in gallery shows. An affirmation I have on the opposite page is that I am an exceptional artist and printmaker. Writing these down daily keeps me focused on my goals while also uplifting my mindset so I have the confidence to pursue those.


Books Read and To Be Read

I’m not sure why but I’ve kept journals since I was in high school of all the books I’ve read and the books I want to read. This started in the early 90s for me, before Goodreads was around, so I’ve just kept up this habit since. I love having the reference. Occasionally I’ll jot a note about the book or star it if it was super good but it’s the most simple journal.


I keep a whole notebook full of quotes that I want to remember. As an artist and specifically a hand letterer this is super helpful for me to pull out for ideas.


Or if you need a journal, I have a new journal in my shop!