I’ve been a keen bullet journal user for almost two years now. At first, the system seemed impractical and far too time-consuming for me but I soon began to gain a steady interest in the concept of a bullet journal. Before, I’d keep a diary (scheduler), carry a notebook to make to-do lists and notes in, and then a small notebook for writing and adding in blog post snippets. It wasn’t practical and I found I’d always be missing one, given I couldn’t carry all three with me.
That being said, as much as I adore my bullet journal, I know lots of people just aren’t keen. But hear me out because I think creative journaling is a vital part of a mindful day. Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ album, deluxe edition, is a journal in its own right. Inside she iterates that it’s great to record your thoughts, memories, emotions and moments. ‘We are what we love.’ It’s so special to see journal passages from her earlier years and read her reflections on pivotal moments in her life. And the runaway success of Berkhamsted Revisited, a teenage diary podcast, just goes to show how fascinating the act of journaling is.
Whether you keep one digitally or continue with a paper one, let me run you through five creative journal ideas…
The List Keeper
Before to-do lists (for productivity) took over my life, I was a keen list maker. It’s one of my biggest tips for fellow writers and writers’ block: grab a pen and make lists of things until an idea sparks. Your favourite food. Top places you’ve been. Childhood memories. Ways to describe the colour red (ink, wine, cherry, post-box…). I have a little Kraft notebook full of lists that I’ve made since I was 19. It makes for a pretty amusing read! And actually, I translated some of these to the blog. They’re some of my most popular blog posts to date.
A list journal can also be a way of logging your days. Make a list at the end of the day of your thoughts from that day. The people you saw. The things you loved. This is a particularly good idea if you’re keen to journal as a way of relieving anxiety or just for self-care, but don’t necessarily want to write long passages of your thoughts.
A Quote Record
At this late stage in millennial life, I don’t think any of us are strangers to a good ol’ motivational quote. Why not note down one inspirational quote a day? Over time, it’ll become a time capsule of hand-picked quotes that really resonated with you on that day.
I used to do this alongside my diary entries. Sadly I no longer keep a diary – I really, really wish I did! Although some of my earlier blog posts definitely fall into diary territory! – but when I did, I would write pages and pages about my day, along with a quote that resonated with me (off Tumblr, duh) and paste in any relevant mementos.
Creative Writing Drafts
Every good writer is the owner of 234723709 unfinished drafts that they don’t particularly like.
But they’re kept. Just in case. I’m a firm believer that in order to improve, you must try and fail several times. Make writing drafts by hand in a notebook. Scribble, scratch out and redraft. I promise that one day, being able to see the earliest notes and manuscript of your bestseller will be so worth it. I keep a separate notebook to freely write and create, mostly from the creative writing prompts that Bee provides on the Vivatramp Patreon! It’s really fun to look back on the earlier pages and see how my writing style has progressed; plus, it means that none of my work ever goes to waste. The content is there for future reference, to prune and hone.
A Question A Day
I haven’t tried this one yet but I’d really love to. Ask your future self one question a day. Write tomorrow’s date, and then a question, and then answer it the following day. Not only will this get the cogs turning in your brain, it’ll give it a lengthy massage throughout the day. The questions don’t have to be hard or particularly profound, just interview yourself and the idea is you’ll uncover lots about yourself throughout the year. It’ll also provide your days with a real sense of purpose beyond the expected.
Such is the modern day that we can now journal from the palm of our hands. Whilst it certainly isn’t conventional and I much prefer a tangible version, digital journals have their own pros. They’re sustainable, in that no trees are cut down, and if you don’t keep up with it, you haven’t wasted a notebook. Apps like Moment, Journey, Reflectly and Presently provide you with simple, sleek interfaces and guided prompts so you can begin integrating mindful practices to your day.
Do you journal? And would you be keen to start any of the creative journals I’ve shared?