Whenever I sit down with my journal, I just end up rambling, or worse, my mind goes completely blank and I don’t know what to write.
The urge to write always strikes me at the worst times, when I’m out and about and don’t have my journal with me.
Do either of these sound familiar?
So many of us are trapped by the idea of what journaling should be: a daily outpouring of our deepest, most important thoughts, preferably written by hand and by candlelight.
It’s time to kick these old ideas to the curb. Times have changed!
Today, journaling is incredibly fun and flexible.
But the ideas don’t stop there. There are so many unique ways to use a journal.
Journaling Can Be Whatever You Want It to Be
The truth is that journaling can literally be whatever you want it to be. Your journal, your rules.
Writers and thinkers throughout history have known this. Isaac Newton knew it. Leonardo da Vinci knew it. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg knew it. They all kept journals (which have become known as “waste books” or “scrapbooks”) where they collected pretty much anything and everything. Thoughts, random facts, flashes of insight, recipes, quotes, letters, poems…the list goes on.
You can become part of this long tradition right here and now. If your creative muscles haven’t been stretched in a while, and you need a little help to get started, try some of these unique ways to use a journal.
Record Your Favorite Inspirational Quotes
When we find a quote that resonates with us, it can crack our lives wide open and totally rearrange our thinking, our values, our beliefs, and our ways of seeing the world.
Don’t trust a powerful, life-altering quote to just your memory. Write it down!
By doing this, your journal becomes not only a record of your personal thoughts and feelings, but a record of the world around you and what resonated most with you.
Keep Track of Your Moods
One of the most common ways to use a journal is as an outlet for your feelings. But you can also use it as a way to track your moods and your outlook.
Why do this? There are a couple of good reasons. For one, keeping a record like this helps you develop a deeper relationship with yourself. It turns self-awareness into a regular practice.
In her essay, “On Keeping a Notebook,” writer (and prolific journaler) Joan Didion wrote that “we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be.” This is exactly what a record of your emotional life can offer you—knowledge of who you used to be, as well as who you are now, and who you are becoming.
Jot Down Your Dreams
Speaking of getting to know yourself on a deeper level, keeping a dream journal is an awesome way to connect with your subconscious mind. Jotting down whatever fragments remain in your mind from your dream the night before can be extremely eye-opening.
This unique way of using a journal is especially helpful for people who have difficulty recalling their dreams. The more you write down, the more you tend to remember.
Collect Ideas for Fun Ways to Spend Time with Friends and Family
Have you ever been out and about and noticed a cool-looking cafe or an out-of-the-way park and thought to yourself “I’ll have to come back here”?
Don’t let these hidden gems slip your mind!
Collect them in your journal (if you’re using a journaling app, you also have the option of tagging them or dropping a pin) and become known as the person who always knows the best spots to hang out and have fun.
Keep a Writer’s Notebook
If you’re a writer, your journal is your best friend. It’s where you can flesh out plot ideas, scribble down character notes, record a brilliant turn of phrase, and make lists of evocative words to use in your upcoming projects.
Once you start doing this, you’ll notice that the more you write, the more ideas you have. This may be because keeping a journal trains your mind to be more perceptive and to generate new thoughts and ideas constantly.
Many novels, poems, plays, stories, and essays have started as scribblings in a journal. Yours could be one of them!
Let Your Interests Guide You
Whatever your hobbies, interests, and obsessions are, you can use journaling as a way to engage more deeply with them.
Do you love video games? Use your journal to track your high scores, your game strategies, new games you want to try, reviews of games you loved or hated, and more.
Are you really into beauty? Use your journal to capture ideas for looks, new product launches, makeup artists to follow on social media, etc.
Make Journaling Easy and Fun
One of the best ways to stoke your own creativity and start using your journal in unique ways is to make journaling a part of your life and something that you take with you wherever you go.
Journaling apps are awesome for this. They make journaling as easy as unlocking your phone, and they give you so much more flexibility when it comes to creating personalized and customized entries. You can add hashtags, labels, songs, videos, and more to create a journal that is truly your own.
Start exploring your own creative potential through journaling with a free seven-day trial of the ByteLyfe app.