12 Different Kinds of Journals to Keep

So, how do you feel about school supplies? Do you find yourself buying boxes of notebooks during the back to school sales? Hoarding them in the basement, are we?
If so, then it’s time to break them out and fill up those lovely blank pages with even lovelier writing. Here are twelve ideas for different kinds of journals you can start keeping today.
And if you prefer to keep your notes with a keyboard, you could fill up your computer with these as files instead.

#1: Idea Journal

Fill this journal with every grand book, character, setting, plot idea you have. Even if it’s just a vague concept, write it down! Maybe it’s only a tiny inkling, that’s fine. Keep it! When you start doing this, sometimes, something absolutely amazing happens. You discover that if you smoosh together idea number 3 and idea number 17 and idea number 42 together, batta-bing, batta-boom…you have all you need for your next book idea!
And remember, the best way to find ideas is to actively chase them. Don’t just wait for them to appear. 
#2: Research Journal

Are you doing research about New Orleans or giant squids? Make sure you jot down the interesting info you find in one place. 
#3: Poetry Journal

Do you want to get better at writing poetry? Try writing a poem a day in this journal. 
#4: Lessons Learned Journal

I like to keep track of the books I’ve read. I also like to jot down the lessons I’ve learned from them. Whether it’s about how the author created an interesting character or how they made me want to stay up until three in the morning reading.
#5: Morning Pages Journal

I love this idea from Julia Cameron, author of The Artisty’s Way. Write three pages every morning. The worlds can be anything you want. Write about the laundry you need to wash. Write about your wishes and fears. Write about the things you wish you could say but don’t. Write about anything and everything. Just get it all out of you. The idea is that once you do this it will be easier to move on and write about what you really want to.
#6: Juncture Journal

Do you ever read a book and there is a moment in the story that makes you want to stand up in cheer? Like, literally, jump to your feet and applaud the master fingers of the writer who crafted such a scene? Yeah, I like to keep track of those moments in my Juncture Journal. Moments like when the fairies grow bigger and jump into the battle in the first Fablehaven book by Brandon Mull or when Uncle Paton, who is a power booster, comes to Bloor Academy and makes all the lights and windows explode because they won’t let Charlie go in the Charlie Bone books. I like to write about these moments and why they made me want to leap to my feet.  And then I like to figure out how I can do something that causes the same reaction in my WIP. 
#7: Dream Journal

Years ago, I sat in a class taught by author and columnist A.E. Cannon at BYU. She talked about a lot of different kinds of journals to keep. One idea that sticks out in my memory is to record your dreams. Keep a journal near your bed and write about your interesting dreams when you wake up. But write quickly before they fade!
#8: Worldbuilding Journal

Creating a new world? Write everything about it in this journal; the magic system rules, information about the fauna and flora and the world’s history.
#9: Brainstorming Journal

I’m better able to turn off my internal editor if I label something as brainstorming. Somehow, just telling myself that whatever I’m writing doesn’t really matter, that it’s just for kicks, makes it easier for me to write crazy ideas down. Maybe I’m trying to figure out how my characters solve a problem. Or I’m trying to come up with a unique magic system. As long as I know it’s brainstorming, I let myself write down all sorts of ideas. And then I eventually find the one I want to keep.
#10: Art Journal

Maybe you’re more of a visual person. Keep track of the pictures and drawings that help you write your story in this journal. Want to learn more about keeping an art journal? Check it out here.
#11: Workshop Journal

I like to take the same journal with me to writing conferences and workshops. Then I write down writing advice and tips from the speakers. I keep track of books they mention that they love. And I jot down inspiration for my own work as it comes.
#12: Project Journal

This is like your novel’s bible. This is where you keep track of everything about a WIP. You write down ideas for scenes and characters. You scribble questions you have about the world you’re crafting. You list the problems your character must face and the tools he’ll need to conquer his demons. And this might be the journal you carry with you wherever you go. 
What kinds of journals do you like to keep?


Erin Shakespear writes middle grade fantasy full of quirky creatures, magic, and strange adventures. With six kids, her days are full of quirky creatures, magic, strange adventures, and…loads of diapers. She also likes to dabble at photography, sewing, jewelry-making, and pretending she’s a grand artist. She is the southern Utah coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

17 thoughts on “12 Different Kinds of Journals to Keep

  1. Great article!
    I just have one addition to make.
    There is another kind of journal and in my eyes the most important one of all and that is

    #13: Gratitude Journal

    I write down at least 3 things (usually a lot more) that I'm grateful for every night before going to bed. And the more you do it, the more grateful you will get.


  2. I like to keep a “Memory Journal”. I survived a nearly fatal car accident some 20 years ago, now. One of the consequences was a traumatic brain injury with complete amnesia. Slowly, over the years, little tidbits of memory (or what I believe are memories) emerge. I record them, and then ask people who knew me if they're real memories or not.


  3. This is…quite possibly THE BEST article and Pinterest ever in the history of forever. I had been having trouble for quite some time trying to divide my journal into different categories and came across this in my Pinterest feed. It's a sign. I'm glad I will be able to use multiple journals so I don't feel so bad that I'll need to get more. Ha! ����


  4. As a writer of never-to-be-published fanfiction and other books, I personaly love you “Idea Journal”! I also came up with a “Things I Should've Known” Journal, for my random thoughts, of course. This is THE BEST post I have ever seen! I'm excited to see what else you come up with….


  5. Emotion journals are great too. Whenever you experience something that elicits a strong emotional reaction (anger, sadness, grief, etc), write down details of what happened and your feelings so that you can reference them later when your characters feel the same thing.


  6. I love this article! Great to know there are others that keep several different journals at the same time lol! A favorite of mine is my “Done” notebook. When I complete an task, I add it to my Done list. It helps me to see how much I’ve accomplished. It can be so gratifying, especially if the task was tedious!


  7. I have kept journals since I was very young… I have several art journals so pages can dry, I have one journal for writing down everything….notes on books or subjects I am studying, or classes I am taking. and what is happening with my world, what I did this month This Journal goes EVERYWHERE with me…addresses, people sketches, t hings to do. things done, Lists, questions I want answers- all of it…and fun sketches- things I need or want to keep- I love Washi Tape to glue in a picture…

    Then I have a Paper journal for just the upstairs – it is filled with stuff I don’t want to forget
    and I have a journal program – on my computer…so that makes 5 journals…


Comments are closed.