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Find Your Perfect Journaling Style


blank journal surrounded by dried pink flowers

There are nearly countless ways to journal. Finding your journaling style is part of what makes this practice so successful. The ways in which you choose to journal should be customized to fit your needs and preferences. This is your ritual, your time. Making it your own is half the fun.


I know that it can also seem a bit overwhelming to begin a new habit from scratch, especially when there are so many options available. That’s why I’ll be introducing you to some of the various styles of journaling available to you and giving you examples of ways to use journaling to fit your objectives.


You can get what you want out of the journaling process by tailoring it to fit your goals, preferences, and needs. Always remember, there is no right way to journal. Only do what’s right for you.


Paper Journaling

Traditional journals are kept in paper form. They can come in many forms, from fancy and expensive to something as simple as a dollar store notebook. What your journal looks like doesn’t matter, though customizing it to fit your personality can be fun. What’s most important is whether you will want to use a journal in a traditional paper format. If you don’t use your journal on a regular basis, you won’t get the most benefit from it.


Do you enjoy writing by hand, or will it become cumbersome for you after being used to typing on a keyboard or phone? Some folks absolutely love the idea of getting back to the basics of handwriting. In today’s modern society, we tend to write with pen and paper far less frequently than we did in the past. Perhaps sitting down and writing your thoughts appeals to you.


A paper journal might also be best for you if you plan to include things like doodles, painting, pencil sketching, or collaging in your book. Digital art is also a possibility if you’re more inclined to use an electronic device for your journal, but those who like hands-on art with physical objects should consider at least some form of paper journaling. It is possible to combine the two and do some version of both electronic and traditional journal keeping, but this can get confusing for some.


Handwritten journals can offer other benefits, too. Research has shown that writing by hand slows your thinking, which allows you to process and reflect more upon what you’re writing. The act of writing by hand itself can be relaxing and therapeutic. Slowing down in this way definitely has its advantages.


Writing by hand may feel more authentic to you. Some can’t get past the idea that journaling should take place in a paper journal, and that’s fine. If you’re in this camp, embrace it. There are tons of reasons to love print journaling. Enjoy the feel of the experience and revel in what you create.


A popular type of paper journal is the bullet journal. This system combines a journal, a calendar, an organization system, and any other type of important life information you care to add all in one place. It encourages creativity with doodles, stickers, or drawings, and you can further customize your bullet journal with the type of physical journal of your choice.


Digital Journaling

Digital journaling can be done using digital journals and planners in pdf format using an app like Goodnotes or Notability on your tablet and with a stylus. This type of digital planner combines the convenience and portability of using a tablet device with the traditional feel of using a pen and paper.


If writing by hand seems tedious and old-fashioned, full digital journaling may be the preferred method for you. Typing your journal entries can be more efficient for many people. It can be more convenient and accessible in many ways, which can make it more likely that you’ll stick with your journaling routine.


Typing can also be preferable for some because it allows for easier edits and revisions. If you’re not happy with something you wrote, you can go back and change it. Some people really hate the idea of crossing out or scribbling through handwritten mistakes because it makes their journaling look imperfect or messy. Truthfully, the messiness of journaling can actually enhance the creative process. However, the digital approach might be best for those who consider themselves perfectionists.


Digital journaling gives you a lot of options. You can journal in a word processing program, a journaling app, or on a particular website. An advantage of these types of outlets is that they are versatile. They often allow for seamless transitions between devices and can usually be taken with you on the go. Therefore, you can pick up your journaling where you left off quite easily. There’s no need to worry if you’ve left your journal at home.


Journaling on an app can be more secure if you’re concerned about privacy. Many digital programs are password protected. Another great thing about electronic journaling is that it’s easy to add digital files such as photographs or other downloads to your entries. Categorizing can also be much simpler with these methods because you can usually add keyword tags or search through an automated table of contents, which is much simpler than sifting through one page at a time looking for a specific entry in a paper journal.


Types of Journal Entries

There are countless types of entries you could add to your journal. Here are some types of journal entries you might want to think about adding to your daily routine, depending on your goals.


Though a journal is different than a diary, you could choose to write some entries that recount the events of your day. This is particularly useful for days that are specifically memorable or in which you accomplished a specific goal.


Speaking of goals, goal-setting is a common type of journal entry to keep. Writing down your goals and the steps you’ll need to take helps to keep you on track and accountable. Writing down your wins and accomplishments is another way to use your journal to keep you motivated.


When it comes to motivation, a journal is a great place for that. Try collecting quotes in your journal to inspire you. This way, your favorite words of wisdom will always be easy to find. A journal can also be a great place for collecting ideas as they come to you, so you don’t forget them later. Affirmations, or short empowering statements, can also be recorded here.


If you’re a reader or if music is your thing, you can use your journal to take notes on the types of media you want to check out next. Writing plot summaries or thoughts about a new artist is helpful, as well. Any type of interest you have can be cataloged in your journal, really.


Gratitude entries are also quite popular and for good reason. Writing down three to five things on a regular basis that you’re grateful for can lead to a number of things. You’ll gain perspective on what really matters in life. You’ll feel fortunate for what you have, and you may even increase your sense of self-esteem and wellbeing.


If you are going on a trip soon, you might want to pick up a travel journal. Again, this might be a blank journal you use for your travels, or you can find a journal themed specifically for traveling. It might have various prompts and pages dedicated to writing about certain aspects of your travels, like where you are going, your basic itinerary, packing lists, and much more.


Starting an art journal will allow you to express yourself more creatively using art instead of words. You could start with collage pages if you feel intimidated by the idea of drawing in a journal. For creating an art journal, you should use a sketchbook or a journal that’s designed for this purpose, since these types of books are designed to accommodate mixed media like acrylic paint, watercolor, glue, etc.


You could turn your journal into one that is used for scripting. This is when you are writing as if what you want in life has already happened. Scripting is similar to writing affirmations, where you think of what you want, your dreams, or your goals, and write them in the present tense. A lot of scripts start with "I am." Instead of saying, "I want to earn 6 figures this year...", you start with, "I am so thankful to be earning 6 figures a year…".


Freewriting about issues you are experiencing in life is also perfect for journal entries. You can even find journal prompts online to help guide your thoughts toward a particular topic if you’re stumped about what to write about. Answering these questions can be enlightening in a multitude of ways that lead to great insights.


No matter what you decide to write in your journal, don’t be afraid to experiment. By doing so, you’ll discover which types of entries are most productive for you and which style feels right. Soon, you’ll find your groove and journaling will be something you look forward to each day.