10 Types of Journaling (With How-To Steps and Tips)

Updated September 30, 2022

Journaling is effective for learning more about yourself and processing your emotions. You can improve your mental health and well-being by keeping a journal detailing your experiences and processes. Learning about the different journaling types can help you choose a suitable option and enable you to document significant events. In this article, we discuss 10 distinct types of journaling, outline steps on how to keep a journal, and share helpful tips to guide you.

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10 types of journaling

Journaling is the process of recording your emotions, thoughts, and actions, and there are different types of journaling you can consider exploring. The process can vary for different individuals and depends on the journaling type. Here are 10 styles you may use to detail your memories, feelings, and thoughts:

1. Personal or diary journaling

You can use a personal journal to record anything, but it's usually more private than other journal types. With a personal journal, you can write about your reaction to particular circumstances or your emotions. This style of journaling typically involves writing about your feelings, doubts, aspirations, relationships, and life goals.

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2. Gratitude journaling

A gratitude journal helps you detail your feelings on aspects of your life for which you're grateful. Keeping a gratitude journal can help you focus on positive changes in your life and is effective for promoting self-contentment. You can set strategic times to document your feelings and remind yourself of positive aspects of your life you're grateful for. A gratitude journal can help improve your mental health, well-being, and happiness. You can start with simple steps, such as jotting down five areas of your life for which you're grateful daily.

3. Art journaling

An art journal is similar to a sketchbook and helps you practice your creative skills and develop your style. You can collect visual inspirations and use them to document your thoughts, processes, and emotions. This journal may serve as a tool to explore your creative expressions. You may not necessarily journal words, and you can use a variety of pens, paper, embellishments, stickers, and markers to illustrate your thoughts. If you're new to keeping an art journal, you may consider starting simple.

4. Reflective journaling

A reflective journal helps you process experiences and emotions. Keeping a reflective journal can lead to self-discovery and development of visions for the future. Filling an entry in a reflective journal may be instinctive and involve opening your journal to document whatever you're thinking at that moment. A reflective journal can help you reduce stress and initiate mindfulness.

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5. Video journaling

If you're not fond of writing, you can set up a recording device and verbally express your thoughts. Video journaling is typically therapeutic, enabling you to unburden and discuss relevant topics. Once you finish recording, you can save the video file on your computer or device. If you want, you can share the video on your social media pages, especially if you're discussing a topic to which you feel others may connect or relate. You may also consider keeping the video private, depending on your preferences.

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6. Travel journaling

If you enjoy going on trips, a travel journal can be practical in documenting your experiences during these trips. Travelling can help you learn about other cultures and discover unique environments and experiences. You can use this journal to detail significant memories from your trip and record details like the things to pack. With a travel journal, you can immerse yourself in the travel experience again. You can improve the aesthetics and impact of your journal by adding the following:

  • Plane tickets

  • Brochures

  • Concert tickets

  • Stickers

  • Playbills

  • Food wrappings

  • Pictures

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7. Food journaling

A food journal can be an exciting way to document your experiences at a restaurant or recount memories of trying a recipe. You can consider keeping a food journal if you enjoy visiting new restaurants or exploring new menus. This journal helps you combine writing therapy with reliving a memorable dining experience at a restaurant. You can also take a food journal with you on a trip, as you're likely to try new dishes you might want to document.

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8. Bullet journaling

A bullet journal is a popular journaling type, serving as a planner and helping you organize personal aspects of your life, including to-do lists, goals, and milestones. This journal reflects essential details you want to remember and helps track your long- and short-term goals. You can use an existing planner, then modify it to serve as a bullet journal. It's also possible to start with blank pages and create sections and boxes that fit your intended writing. A bullet journal is typically multi-faceted and may contain different entry categories. You can record appointments, achievements and inspirational quotes.

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9. Stream of consciousness journaling

This form of journaling involves writing without a goal or prompt. It helps develop your writing skills and challenges you to write more. A stream-of-consciousness journal is an effective way to start journaling your ideas and thoughts. You can start by writing a one-page entry daily and discussing any exciting topic. This journal typically aids self-discovery.

10. Nature journaling

Nature journaling involves documenting discoveries you make outdoors. This journaling type can help you develop a deeper appreciation for nature as it involves writing about landscapes, creatures, and textures. You can combine nature with art journaling because illustrating exciting discoveries may be helpful for proper documentation. This journal is practical when hiking or residing in a remote area.

How to keep a journal

Here are practical steps for documenting your thoughts:

1. Choose a media

Before keeping a journal, decide on the media to document your thoughts. The traditional method entails using a pen and notebook. You can select a suitable notebook and decorate it as you wish. You can choose your preferred word processor if you prefer to journal on a computer or other devices.

2. Decide on your journal type

It's essential to discover the journal's purpose before deciding on the type of journal you want to keep. Choose a suitable journal type depending on your personal reasons. After deciding on the journal type, you can choose to write on a particular topic or discuss various topics. Explore your emotions and feelings while detailing important moments.

3. Write the date and location

Reading a journal can help you relive an experience, but you can increase its impact by stating the event's date and location. You can write the event's day, month, and year at the top corner of the page. This may help you better understand the experience when you re-read them.

4. Begin with an opening and use the first-person pronoun

Using an opening for your journal is not necessarily compulsory, but it can help set the momentum for writing. You may consider using an introduction such as Dear diary or Dear self and can write it on your entry's first line. For journal entries, using the first-person pronoun is typically common as you're detailing your own experiences. For example, you can write, I finally tried the new recipe.

5. Write without self-editing your entries

When detailing an experience, you might not worry about using proper sentences or making errors. You can instead focus on writing out your thoughts and feelings. It's often advisable to avoid re-reading what you're writing until you feel you've finished writing. You can focus on expressing your creativity and experimenting with different ways to document your thoughts. If you want to edit your journal, you can do that after writing.

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Tips to help you create a journaling habit

Here are best practices to help you create and keep a journal:

  • Set a goal to write a daily entry. Challenging yourself to write an entry daily can help you keep a journal. You can start with short entries.

  • Write at a convenient time. Maintaining a journaling habit is easier when you write at convenient times. You can write while you drink your morning coffee, commute to work, or before you go to bed.

  • Carry your journal with you. This can help ensure you don't miss any events. It may be easier to maintain your journaling habit when your diary is always with you.

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