Last updated on December 28th, 2021
Whether you’re new to journaling or you’re trying to break yourself out of a journaling rut, having a list of creative journaling ideas standing by, poised to inspire you, is always a good idea. Here are 23 of our favorite creative writing prompts and journaling ideas for mixing up your journal-writing routine.
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The way we use our journals can say a lot about us. While some of us think of our journal entries as a type of diary–a place to record the events of each day–others prefer to get more creative. Journals are commonly used for creating art, recording random thoughts, collecting quotes and song lyrics, recording observations about nature, tracking habits and schedules, processing emotions, and manifesting our goals and dreams.
Over time, your journal becomes a reflection of you and your life. Whether it’s neat and organized or creatively chaotic, your journal can be one of the truest reflections of yourself.
But what if you’re all out of ideas on how to make your journal uniquely yours? Maybe you’ve tried journaling but haven’t been able to make the habit stick or you want to break out of a rut and try something new.
Whatever the current state of your journal, these X creative journaling ideas are sure to inspire. Regardless of whether you keep a writing journal, an art journal, or one of the many other types of creative journals, the ideas on this list are designed to jump-start your creativity and get you creating today!
So let’s go!
23 Creative Journaling Ideas to Try Today
1. Stock Up on Journaling Supplies
Visit your favorite hobby store (or Amazon) and stock up on craft supplies for your journal so you can act right away when creative journal ideas strike. While a stash of colorful pens and cute, themed stickers is certainly not a requirement for journal keeping, having a few of your favorite things on hand can fuel inspiration and encourage you to try new ideas in your journal.
2. Try Different Types of Journals
The type of journal you use will have an impact on what kind of creative projects you’ll complete within its pages. Blank pages could be best if you’re going to do more art than writing in your journal.
Lined pages could be better if you have a lot of writing to do and like each journal entry to look consistent. Take time to find a nice journal that resonates with you and makes you want to pick it up and spend time with it.
3. Make a Collage
Remember the collages you made in elementary school? Random pictures clipped out of old magazines to create a work of art?
Guess what? Collaging is still just as much fun as it was back then! Grab some old magazines or an old book and clip away.
Arrange the pieces together in your own journal and fill an entire page or spread. This technique is a particularly fun way to do a vision board or plan your dream vacation.
4. Try Your Hand at Hand Lettering
One creative way to make your journaling practice more exciting is to add custom hand lettering to the pages. Hand lettering isn’t just nice handwriting. It’s more like calligraphy in that it’s its own art form, which takes time, discipline, and practice to develop.
That might not sound like a lot of fun right now, but think of how much more beautiful your journal will look when you have your own way to style the different words you want to make pop off the page. Little Coffee Fox offers an excellent introduction to hand lettering as well as a few hand lettering email course.
5. Write Out Quotes
Whether or not you decide to put your hand lettering skills to work, you can still write beautiful things in your journal. One of my favorite things to do is to write out quotes from books or from memes I come across online.
Having a special section in your journal just for quotes or incorporating them organically into various pages will provide inspiration now as well as when you look back over your journals in the future.
6. Write Out Song Lyrics
Another way to preserve some of your favorite words is to write out the lyrics to songs you love. You could either write all the lyrics to one song or random lyrics from several of your favorite songs.
7. Start a Travel Journal
Document a trip you’ve taken or would like to take. You could probably devote an entire journal to the best place you’ve ever been, or you could do mini-spreads for each place.
Be sure to take lots of pictures and notes when you travel so you can capture the amazing feeling of being in that new place later on. When I’ve traveled with my kids in the past, we would bring a travel journal along with us and add notes to it each day to capture what we had done and seen.
Time flies when you’re traveling and all those memories can start to blur together. Capturing them quickly is the key to preserving them.
8. Start a Bullet Journal
Bullet journaling is a great way to incorporate different styles of journaling into your creative process. You can use it for keeping lists, tracking habits, or organizing your day.
If you want, you can do a different creative weekly spread each week, but don’t feel intimidated by the plethora of fancy bullet journal spreads displayed on social media. You can keep yours simple and play with new creative ideas as you get more comfortable with the concept of bullet journaling.
9. Use Journal Prompts for Inspiration
Journal writing prompts can help you tap into your mind and take your journaling in different directions that you would otherwise go. One of the best ways to diversify your journaling practice is to use creative journal prompts and respond to the ones that spark the most enthusiasm and promise to get your creative juices flowing.
10. Start a Nature Journal
Write down what you observe in nature. Draw or take pictures of interesting plants and animals to paste into your journal.
Look them up in an app or a plant/animal identification book and learn more about them. You could also press leaves and dry them out and then paste them into your book for safekeeping.
11. Adorn Your Pages
Use washi tape and scraps of paper to make your journal pages colorful and unique. You could even plan out palettes of different colors for each month or season.
12. Harness Your Goals
Use your journal to make a list of everything you want to learn how to do (or learn more about). One creative way to do this is through mind mapping.
Write “things I want to learn” in a bubble in the middle of a page. Then draw lines coming out of the bubble and make new clusters with different topics you want to learn about. Start with the main idea such as “creative journaling” and then break it down into little things like “bullet journaling”, “hand lettering”, and “art journaling”.
You could get more specific by writing down books you want to read or courses you want to take to get better at this thing. Once you’ve mastered a new skill, celebrate by coloring in the appropriate bubbles on your mind map or decorating them with stickers.
13. Keep a Reading Journal
One of my favorite types of lists to create is a list of books I’ve read. My memory is short, and I tend to forget what I’ve read, what those books were about, and whether I enjoyed them or not.
Having a singular place where you can track all of this information will help you remember every good book you read so you can easily offer recommendations for a friend or have a jumping-off point when looking for similar books to those you’ve read.
Whether you’ve just found your new favorite book or your last read is destined to fade quickly to obscurity, keeping a reading log is a great step for any serious reader.
14. Start a Gratitude Journal
Use your journal to make a gratitude list–see if you can keep it going until it has a thousand things on it, like Ann Voskamp. If you’re having a hard time getting started, grab this list of gratitude prompts. It even comes with printable gratitude journaling pages you can print out and stick in your journal.
15. Try Music-Inspired Journaling
Put on a playlist filled with songs from your teenage years. Write down every memory that the songs evoke.
16. Start a #TBR (To Be Read list)
Search Instagram for hashtags like #bookstagram and #bookreviews and make a list of all the books you want to read in the next year. Style it as a checklist so you can use it to keep track of your literary progress.
With all these great book recommendations saved in one place, you’ll never struggle with the question of what to read next again.
17. Make a Vision Board
Use Sharpies, planner stickers, and magazine clippings (see collage, above) to make a vision board for the upcoming season or year, or maybe just for a single project or initiative you are about to embark on.
18. Mix It Up
Try a different format for every page of your journal. For example, write one day as if it were a blog post, another as if it were a newspaper article. Try writing about your day in the form of a poem or a song. If your day was a recipe, what would it have included?
19. Write a Story
Why not incorporate creative writing into your journaling process? Write about your day as if you were writing a short story, or try telling it from a different perspective.
Perhaps you could write an alternative ending if your day needs a little bit of a boost. (This can be particularly effective in the middle of a bad day–write out what the perfect fix to the bad day would be and then seek to incorporate as many aspects of your “fix” as possible into the rest of the day).
20. Craft a Timeline of the Major Milestones in Your Life
Which people and events have had the biggest impact on making you who you are today? In what different ways have they affected or inspired you?
21. Write About Strangers
Head to a cafe or other public place and people watch. Take notes about the interesting people you see and the conversations they have. Dream up backstories for them and write about their lives.
Who are they? What do they do? Why are they at this place? Who are they talking to or waiting for? What keeps them up at night?
22. Track Your Habits
23. Try Art Journaling
You could draw one new picture each day or use your favorite art form to complement your narrative prose.
Sophie Agbonkhese is a writer, veteran homeschooling mother of four, and a recovering overachiever (who occasionally relapses). She is the founder of My Cup Runs Over, a site dedicated to helping busy women simplify and enrich their lives, homes, and homeschools. When she’s not writing or debugging websites, Sophie spends her time reading with her kids, gardening, listening to audiobooks, and striving fruitlessly to have a clean house for at least five minutes. She lives in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, Ben, and their children.