In my last two posts, I talked about the benefits of keeping a journal and how to get started. But let me tell you my secret to faithfully writing in my journal. I use easy journal templates, so I never have to spend time scratching my head and wondering what to write. I just flip to the page (my Leuchtturm has not one but two ribbon bookmarks!), uncap the pen and get down to business. Three minutes and I’m done with the daily entry. Here are seven popular — and super neat — templates to make a journal appointment easy to keep:
Bullet Journal, where have you been all my life? I started this method less than a year ago, and it tops my template list here because it is SO much more than a journal. My bullet journal is pretty much my whole brain on paper. Despite its projectile-sounding name (you don’t shoot it), this type of journal is named for the bulleted lists involved. The practice was developed by Ryder Carroll and has been expanded upon and added to by its growing fanbase. I use it as a calendar, goals tracker, meal planner, diary, to-do list, and doodle pad. Go ahead and search for ‘bullet journal’ on Pinterest, then kiss a couple of hours goodbye as you fall down that rabbit hole. Hey, I warned you…
If you like lists but want to keep it simpler than the Bullet Journal, check out Austin Kleon’s logbook. Delightful! I read his book Steal Like an Artist, and incorporated his suggestion to record the 5 best things that happen each day. This gives me a lovely and often hilarious record of my life. Some days I’m scraping for good things, I’ll admit, but it’s good to push and find the tiny wonderful miracles of life (see Gratitude Journal, below). It also surprises me when it feels like I didn’t get much done, but actually crushed it when I write it all down. A logbook can be a simple list with phrases or sentence fragments, or even little icon drawings, like Kleon’s.
If you’re less wordy and more of a visual or tactile artist, you may prefer an art journal. If quick and easy is the objective, I would take way too much time shredding little paper scraps and searching for doodads and bottle caps and ephemera. But some people are pretty slick about creating stunning pages FAST. For inspiration, check out Abigail Halpin’s sketchbooks. I once read a book by an artist (I’m still looking for the title!) who determined to paint the moon every night, come rain, snow, social engagements, headcolds, whatever. It’s incredible how much of her life bleeds into those paintings of our dear moon. And her creative process and approach change over the year, too. It’s neat to see.
To get to know yourself, and for others to read and know you, too, daily prompts are a great way to go. These little brain ticklers are fantastic to get your mind moving when you stare at the blank page and feel stage fright. Prompts are also fun to do as a group activity if, say, you have a journaling or scrapbooking circle (Do you? Because, that would be incredible fun for a small group/class!). Visit this post for a list of 25 prompts targeted at self-knowledge. Hip Homeschooling has a neat list of prompts for moms, too.
No one likes or relishes going through tough times. No one wants reminded that pressure and pain can grow us in ways that the good ol’ days never do. But if you are in rough waters, clinging on for dear life just trying to stay afloat, I want to suggest the gratitude journal. This template is also called a blessings journal. Take the testimony of Ann Voskamp, for example. She writes in her wildly popular book, One Thousand Gifts, that her determination to list her blessings — her 1,000 gifts — in the face of terrible hurt totally changed her outlook, and as a result, her very life. If writing down a few words a day can have that effect, why not try? Take Ann’s monthly Joy Dare.
For my journaling practice, using a template has made all the difference. It’s fast, easy to do, and flexible when I miss a day or two. Try one of these templates and tell me what you think. Do you have a favorite framework for your journal?