24 Journaling Examples To Get You Writing (Even If You’re Busy)
Here are some inspiring journaling examples to get you writing and turn your journaling into a daily habit – even if you’re busy.
If you don’t journal very often, a blank page can be very intimidating.
Pinterest shows us women in coffee shops bent elegantly with fountain pens over notebooks.
And journaling seems so effortless that you wish for those introspective moments in your own life.
But what do you actually write about?
And how do you fill those pages when you’re busy and your life doesn’t seem very noteworthy anyways?
I’ve been journaling for decades – ever since I was a teenager venting over my daily ballet classes. And I’ve had plenty of months when I’ve stopped journaling entirely.
But I’ve returned to journaling over and over again – and it’s brought incredible benefits to my life.
So if you’re wondering how to get into the daily writing habit, use these journaling examples to get inspired.
Build your own journaling routine with the methods that resonate most and suit your needs.
Maybe you’re pregnant and want to document those first special years of your child’s life. Maybe you’re addicted to social media and you’re looking for a better alternative to late night scrolling.
Whatever you’re dealing with, use these journaling examples for inspiration:
1. Daily journal
A daily journal is the classic, beginner-friendly technique that lets you document your everyday life in a diary-style narrative.
Use your daily journal to record your everyday thoughts and emotions. Spilling your feelings out onto the page will do wonders for your personal growth and self-awareness.
Use your daily journal as a record of the events in your life – from big milestones to small everyday occurrences. Whether you’re trying out a new cafe or getting ready for a job interview, use your daily journal to document your feelings.
Daily journaling helps you gain mental clarity and boosts your mindfulness. It also helps you gain insights and learn from your experiences.
The benefits: develops self-awareness, lowers stress, fosters gratitude and helps you sleep better.
Writer’s tip: Make journaling a part of your daily routine by tying it into an already existing habit.
Daily journal example:
Tuesday, July 3
Miracle of miracles, I did pilates again this morning. It burns and it’s hard, but it’s so satisfying afterwards and I think it’s that satisfaction (and the mood boost it gives) that keeps me going.
I worked all day and sat in front of my laptop for 8 hours, then fell into scrolling social media too much again afterwards. It always leaves me comparing myself to more glamorous feeds.
Then I made some pasta in the evening. It was good to get into the kitchen and do something with my hands that didn’t involve a computer screen. Definitely should do that more often.
2. Book and movie journal
If you’re a bookworm and movie buff, a book and movie journal helps you track what you consume and enriches your experience.
It lets you review and document your reading and viewing habits.
And it gives you a more active role in the content you consume. It sharpens your observation skills and helps you know yourself better.
Whether you’re re-watching Breaking Bad episodes and jotting down your favorite quotes, or going through Emile Zola novels to compile your to-read list, a book and movie journal inspires you to be more selective.
Lists challenge you to dive deeper into a topic and let you fine tune your personal tastes.
The benefits: brings more meaning into what you read and watch.
Writer’s tip: Don’t worry about making your book and movie journal too perfect.
Book and movie journal example:
Rewatching: Season 2 of Breaking Bad:
It’s still early but there’s foreshadowing on how controlling and possessive Walt will eventually become.
Reading: Further Afield, by Miss Read
Page 22: It’s turning out to be the perfect summer read as the village schoolteacher heads off to Crete for the holidays. I’m home and living vicariously through this cozy adventure. And putting Greece on my bucket list.
3. Art journal
If you’re a visual person, start an art journal for sketches, collages, doodles, inspirations and notes.
There aren’t any rules to art journaling and no single way to “do it right.” Your art journal can be a mix of images and sketches along with writing. Or it can be purely visual.
Or it can depend on the day.
Your art journal is your space to explore your creativity, record your ideas and work through creative blocks. It’s a safe space to explore new projects – whether that’s decor for your next dinner party or visual branding for your company.
Nobody’s watching and your art journal is for your eyes only. So don’t hold back and don’t judge your creations. Just enjoy the process.
The benefits: helps you express your feelings, reduces stress, fosters creativity and builds your imagination.
Writer’s tip: Make your art journal a judgement-free space to create without worrying about people’s reactions.
Art journal example:
4. Dream journal
A dream journal lets you understand your emotions and tap into your subconscious.
Start by writing down whatever you remember from your dream. The more your journal, the better your memory will get.
When you become aware of your dreams, you will understand how a good dream or a nightmare can subconsciously impact your day.
And once you pick out patterns and recurring dreams, you can learn to interpret them and find meaning.
A dream journal helps you with new ideas and solutions. Einstein used his dreams to develop some of his best-known formulas and theories.
And many incredible ideas came from dreams – from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster to the Beatles’ hit song Yesterday.
The benefits: Recording your dreams improves your overall memory and exercises your brain.
Writer’s tip: Write about your dream as soon as you wake up because dreams get more difficult to remember as the day goes on.
Dream journal example:
I’ve been having the same dream for the past few months. I’m swimming in a dark, enormous ocean and the waves start washing over my head and I slowly get pulled under. Apparently dreams about drowning can represent a lot of different things, but it’s mostly about being overwhelmed and unable to cope with your emotions.
And I’ve definitely been feeling that since we got a new editor at the magazine and she pulled two of my favorite stories from the upcoming issue.
5. Food journal
If you’re a foodie, a passionate cook or just wanting to eat better, a food journal is an incredible tool to record your habits, jot down recipes and plan your meals.
A food journal makes you more aware of your everyday eating habits. And that’s an invaluable tool if you want to eat a more nutritious and wholesome diet.
It’s also a place to jot down family recipes, TikTok cooking hacks and restaurant recommendations – and just about anything that has to do with food.
The benefits: Whether you want to get healthier or just find the best avocado toast in the city, a food journal will inspire your everyday meals.
Writer’s tip: Make your food journal versatile and use it for anything food-related.
Food journal example:
Must-try banana pancakes (from TikTok)
1 ripe banana, 2 large eggs beaten, mix and cook on a pan for a minute.
Cairo restaurants to try: Granita in Zamalek A few of those cafes on Baghdad Street in Korba (Second Cup and 929 especially)
6. Bullet journal
A bullet journal is a planner that includes brainstorming, to-do lists, reminders and schedules all in one convenient place.
It’s a relatively new journaling technique that’s really taken off recently.
And it’s brilliant for students to keep notes and stay organized.
For workers, it keeps track of upcoming meetings, daily tasks and quarterly goals.
A blank notebook can be easily turned into your personal bullet journal. And there’s also a slew of ready-made bullet journals with templates printed inside.
Your bullet journal can be minimal and practical or wildly colorful and creative – or anywhere in between.
Use a bullet journal to plan and reflect. Bullet journaling has its own set of shorthand symbols to indicate notes, events and tasks, and symbols for tasks that have been completed, scheduled, moved or marked irrelevant.
In this way, long notes are replaced with quick and easy symbols that are understood by the owner.
Whether you use it as a fertility tracker or a gratitude log, a bullet journal keeps tabs on whatever’s important in your life.
The benefits: tracks long-term goals and more detailed daily tasks all in one place.
Writer’s tip: If you’re struggling to get motivated, then a bullet journal helps get you going.
Bullet journal example:
To do, morning:
To do, evening:
no social media
read 2 chapters
7. Planner journal
A planner journal helps you schedule your day – whether that’s a detailed to-do list or reflections on upcoming challenges.
When you write down your goals, you’re more likely to achieve them. And it becomes easier to identify your priorities, obstacles and progress.
A planner journal also helps you release any negative emotions. You’ll be less likely to worry about the future when you have it planned out.
The benefits: helps you divide ambitious goals into achievable tasks.
Writer’s tip: Use your planner journal to streamline your day and delegate responsibilities.
Planner journal example:
reply to all IG messages (delete the old)
schedule Hilton meeting
plan next week’s content
– find new photographer for product shoot, maybe John’s friend? see about shooting both collections in one session.
Weekend: watercolor class, wash all windows.
8. Reflection journal
A reflection journal is your safe space to look back on your day. It helps you process events and analyse why things happened a certain way.
You’ll also look back on previous entries and see how you’ve grown.
Use your reflection journal to write about your relationships and how communication can be improved. Write about your family problems, issues at work and anything else that’s on your mind.
Be honest with yourself and you’ll get some powerful insights that will move you towards change.
To reflect back on events, describe the event in detail. Then interpret what happened. Conclude with any learning experiences that you can apply in the future.
Use lists for quicker reflections. Write out the best and worst things that happened in your day and how you can improve tomorrow.
The benefits: reduces stress, boosts your mental clarity and helps you learn from experiences.
Writer’s tip: Keep your reflection journal on your night stand as a reminder to write before bed.
Reflection journal example:
I’ve felt so unmotivated lately and I don’t know why. The heat and humidity definitely don’t help but maybe it’s something more. The start of burnout? I’ve been working 10+ hour days and can’t stop thinking about work even on my days off. This weekend I need to lay off social media and find something to get my mind off work (a visit to that new gallery?)
9. Reading journal
A reading journal helps you get more from the books, articles and blogs you read.
Writing information down makes you far more likely to remember it. And a reading journal will make you a more observant reader and sharper thinker.
Use your reading journal to jot down inspiring quotes, insights and educational info you come across in your reading.
Track your reading and motivate yourself to read more books, record quotes, tips and beautiful passages from literary novels. A reading journal is also great for to-read lists, lists of books you’d love to re-read, bookish gift ideas and more.
If you’re passionate about a subject like art history or gardening, a reading journal is a great place to record your observations and make notes.
A reading journal is your space to interact with the information you consume. Use it to respond, reflect and analyse.
The benefits: enriches your learning, helps you remember information, makes you a sharper observer and a better learner.
Writer’s tip: Keep your reading journal small and portable so it’s easy to write in if you’re reading in bed or when you’re on the go.
Reading journal example:
Reading Farther Afield by Miss Read and love chapter 11 about their visit to the monastery at Toplou and the solitary monk who lives there. Note: research if that’s actually a real place?
Read an interesting article on cnbc.com about how people are using AI in their side hustles, including travel agents who use it to tailor-make itineraries for their clients.
10. One-line-a-day journal
Consistently writing one line a day helps preserve your memory, makes you wittier and helps you notice patterns in your life.
One line a day journaling easily gets you into the habit of writing everyday.
If you’re busy, then writing a single line a day is a very realistic goal. It won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed and it will give you a sense of accomplishment when you’re flipping through old journals.
“It makes journaling fun,” writes James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. “It’s easy to do. It’s easy to feel successful. And if you feel good each time you finish journaling, then you’ll keep coming back to it.”
The benefits: gets you into the writing habit, makes you a better observer and helps you appreciate life’s simple pleasures.
Writer’s tip: What seems ordinary today will soon be a memory you’ll love to preserve.
One-line-a-day journal example:
The heat and humidity today felt like a steaming oven – so I made raspberry iced tea with lime in the afternoon and we drank half the pitcher.
11. Gratitude journal
From fighting depression to boosting your self-confidence, there are countless benefits of a gratitude journal.
A gratitude journal is scientifically proven to make you a happier and more productive person.
It reminds you to appreciate the present and to stop always striving for more in your life.
But don’t rush through your gratitude journaling.
Write in detail about what you’re thankful for – and let yourself feel those emotions and experience the sensations. Write in depth about the people you’re grateful for in your life.
Don’t make your gratitude journal just another thing to tick off your to-do list. Savor the experience and take your time.
Studies suggest that gratitude journaling once or twice a week makes a bigger impact than hurried everyday journaling.
The benefits: lowers your stress, calms you at night, improves your self-worth and your relationships, makes you happier and more mindful.
Writer’s tip: Diving deep into a few things you’re grateful for is more beneficial than listing off all the blessings you can possibly think of.
Gratitude journal example:
I’m so grateful for this balcony especially on cool spring mornings like this when I can sit with my cup of coffee and enjoy the fresh air before work. I’m so grateful for all the potted plants and so happy that they’re growing well and thriving even if I sometimes forget to water them.
12. Nature journal
A nature journal teaches you to observe, slow down and notice all of nature’s breathtaking details.
Start a nature journal to raise your awareness of the beauty around you and the seasonal changes that are easy to overlook.
Even if you live in a big city, you’ll be surprised how much natural phenomena you can observe when you take notice – from birds chirping to leaves changing color.
Use your nature journal to sketch the leaves, animals and trees around you. Make notes about what you observe and how the seasons change.
Include personal reflections on how nature makes you feel and how you interact with it.
If you’re in the city, explore your local parks and nature reserves.
Take your journal along to make quick sketches during your lunch hour. Or dive deeper to study the flora and fauna native to your area.
The benefits: makes you a more keen observer, reduces stress and fosters gratitude.
Writer’s tip: Make your nature journal small and portable enough to carry easily in your purse.
Nature journal example:
I was reading last night about Greece and the author mentioned a grove of carob trees that lined one of her favorite seaside villages. I looked up carob tree online and found it actually grows here in Egypt too. And those huge carob pods are used to make juice.
13. Daily affirmations journal
If you struggle with negative self-talk, a daily affirmations journal will transform your mindset – and ultimately change your life.
A daily affirmations journal is a place to physically write down positive statements about yourself and your life. Even if you’re satisfied with your current status quo, this practice fosters gratitude and makes you happier.
It initially feels strange to write statements about yourself that you don’t really believe (“I am a healthy and happy person”). But the goal is to shift your focus on positive thoughts and leave less space for negativity.
A daily affirmations journal makes you more self-aware when negative thoughts do come in. And it empowers you to not always believe them.
The benefits: boosts your confidence, helps you cope with stress and improves your self-esteem.
Writer’s tip: Don’t rush through your affirmations. Take the time to feel the emotions behind your words.
Daily affirmations example:
I take great care of myself, eat well and take care of my body.
I travel often and take the initiative to explore new places. I create opportunities to travel and I motivate myself to try new experiences.
I love nourishing food and the feeling of air filling my lungs as I walk.
14. Commonplace journal
Whether it’s a quote from a romantic comedy or a passage from a classic novel, a commonplace book is a place to jot down everything you want to remember.
Writing down anecdotes and quotes in a commonplace journal is a centuries-old tradition. And it was a beloved practice of writers like John Milton and Virginia Woolf.
But a commonplace journal is especially relevant in our modern age – when you’re exposed to masses of content at dizzying speeds.
Writing down quotes, lyrics, passages and proverbs that catch your attention sharpens your eye and makes you a more active observer.
And it makes your life far richer and more enjoyable.
The benefits: boosts your creativity, fuels your inspiration and lets you record snippets for future reference.
Writer’s tip: Make your commonplace journaling a pleasure. Take your journal to the park and write in the grass on the weekend. Or light some candles at night with your favorite tea as you journal.
Commonplace journal example:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“If anything, his personality seemed like something external to himself, managed by the opinions of others, rather than anything he individually did or produced. Now he has a sense of invisibility, nothingness, with no reputation to recommend him to anyone.” – Sally Rooney, Normal People
15. Travel journal
A travel journal lets you document your experiences on the road. It increases your self-awareness and makes travel a lot more rewarding.
It’s also a great alternative to your phone camera and lets you capture memories in a more creative and personal way.
You’ll love flipping through your old travel journals. And they make incredible family keepsakes too.
Journal before you leave home to get excited about your trip and prolong that sweet anticipation. Use your travel journal for research – from planning your itinerary to listing must-try foods.
When you travel, you’re thrown outside your daily routine. Self-awareness becomes easier because you don’t have your everyday surroundings to send you into auto-pilot.
When you journal about your experiences, you get to know yourself. And that leads to more self-awareness and wisdom.
When you’re waiting at the airport or sipping tea on the night train, pick up your travel journal and let your thoughts flow. Write to pass the time you’d otherwise spend scrolling your phone.
The benefits: Use your travel journal to record the stimuli that makes your trip memorable – whether that’s the sound of rush hour or the smell of cotton candy.
Writer’s tip: Honesty is key. If you don’t write truthfully and if you sugar-coat everything for an imagined reader, then self-awareness is difficult.
Travel journal example:
Our second day in Siwa started with breakfast under the palm trees, which included local olives and flat bread with date jam. Then a trip to the salt lakes in the afternoon which were so breathtaking that we collectively let out a “wow” when our tour guide pulled his Jeep up to the banks. Floating and laughing all afternoon, then our guide gave us a small chunk of the crystal sharp salt as a souvenir.
16. Pregnancy and children’s journal
A pregnancy and children’s journal lets you preserve memories, major milestones and funny anecdotes from your kid’s life.
Use your journal to jot down your emotions and experiences during pregnancy. And use it to write down any tips and hacks about nursing and childcare.
Once your baby is born, use it as a daily diary that tracks your baby’s growth, your worries, emotions and special moments.
The benefits: Your journal will become precious memories for your child as they grow older.
Writer’s tip: Use your journal to record your body’s transformation, baby’s size and milestones like your baby’s first kick.
Pregnancy and children’s journal example:
Just a few more weeks until the big day! Today we finally finished painting the nursery and it’s all starting to feel very, very real. I’m feeling both excited and overwhelmed in the best way possible, and of course exhausted. We still have to assemble some of the nursery furniture but that can wait until this weekend.
17. Health and fitness journal
A health and fitness journal helps you stay motivated, track your progress and find what routines work best for you.
Use your journal to plan your meals, jot down nutritious recipes and keep track of what you’re eating.
Journal your feelings at the end of the day and record the duration and type of your workout.
And get honest with your emotions. Write about what’s keeping you distracted when you fall into inactivity. Ask yourself what types of exercise leave you uplifted and what time of the day you’re most motivated.
Dive deeper into why you aren’t taking good care of yourself, or what’s keeping you from eating healthier. Once you understand yourself better, you’ll recognize negative patterns and improve your mindset.
The benefits: Boosts motivation, offers clarity and measures your progress.
Writer’s tip: Don’t worry about making your journal perfect since you’ll be writing on the go.
Health and fitness journal example:
Did a half hour of pilates followed by 20 minutes of cardio – and handled it surprisingly well considering that I skipped the last 2 days.
Breakfast: tried olive oil on hardboiled eggs with herbs and it was amazing (and healthy!)
18. Manifestation journal
A manifestation journal uses the law of attraction to bring your goals and dreams to reality.
It shifts your perspective and gets rid of the limiting beliefs that stop you from making changes.
A manifestation journal is a place to visualize the future you desire and the person you want to become. It widens your perspective by bringing positive thinking into your life.
When coupled with concise goals and action, it’s a life-changing journaling technique that makes distant dreams achievable.
Use the popular 369 method to start. Write down what you’d like to manifest three times in the morning, six times during the day and nine times in the evening.
The benefits: improves your mood, increases mindfulness and gratitude.
Writer’s tip: Write daily to give your manifestations more power. Write in the present tense in concise and detailed language about what you want in life and who you want to become.
Manifestation journal example:
I finally launched my own marketing agency, with a few select employees that I value and clients that respect my work. I love coming into work in the morning with an iced coffee and catching up with the team. We bounce ideas off each other and we work in collaboration, not competition.
19. Work journal
A work journal helps you track career goals, challenges and frustrations. And it helps you find meaning in your work and boost your productivity.
Use it to gather feedback from managers and clients, track your progress on major projects and make plans for upcoming months.
Write honestly about what’s going well and what challenges you’re facing. This kind of introspection helps you improve your productivity and find ways to work better.
Use your journal for catharsis when you’re dealing with negative self-talk or facing a difficult decision.
The benefits: boosts mindfulness and gratitude, helps you find purpose and boosts motivation.
Writer’s tip: Use your work journal to jot down your priorities when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Make a list at the end of the day of everything you accomplished if you’re feeling scattered.
Work journal example:
It was a hot and humid afternoon full of busywork, phone calls and delivery mishaps that kept me from getting anything done. But when it finally cooled off, I made myself an iced coffee and cracked open my laptop. I worked for a couple of hours straight without looking at my phone. And I was really surprised how much I got done… And this makes sense because I don’t think I’ve ever been productive in the mornings.
20. Mindfulness journal
A mindfulness journal lets you become more aware of the present. And it teaches you to pay closer attention to the seemingly mundane details of daily life.
Use your mindfulness journal to jot down random observations throughout the day.
Your journal will strengthen your powers of observation. And it will increase the benefits of your yoga and meditation practice by teaching you to be mindful in everyday life – not just on the mat.
Go on a mindfulness walk if you have writer’s block. Pay close attention to everything you smell, see and hear. Jot down all your observations at the end of your stroll.
This simple exercise teaches you the power of living in the present.
The benefits: strengthens your creativity, improves your gratitude, helps you sleep better and reduces anxiety.
Writer’s tip: Use your mindfulness journal after meditation or yoga to describe your surroundings and stay in tune with the present.
Mindfulness journal example:
I took a short walk today before I ordered my Uber and I noticed it’s cooling down in the evenings and it’s not as unbearably humid anymore. Though the air is still sultry and heavy. I noticed some (more delicate) trees didn’t do well this summer and a few of their leaves have quite literally burned.
21. Goal setting journal
A goal setting journal solidifies your ambitions, defines your “why” and breaks down lofty goals into actionable steps.
It drives your career forward, boosts your personal growth and helps you achieve your dreams.
Whether you want to start a podcast, get a promotion or grow an herb garden, a goal setting journal is a perfect tool to track your progress and keep yourself motivated.
It’s more fluid and flexible than a bullet journal. And it can be used to outline your goals in graphs, drawings, free-form writing or whatever method works best for you.
The benefits: boosts your motivation, improves your confidence and helps to combat self-doubt.
Writer’s tip: Imagine where you’d like to be in 5 years and then work backwards. How can you get there? What small steps can you take in the next 30 days to move towards your goal?
Goal setting journal example:
Summer goals: Get healthy and stop eating junk food
Plan: cardio 5x a week (starting today) strength training 5x a week (starting tomorrow) research healthy dessert recipes (next two weeks) look into meal prepping? (next two weeks)
22. Hobby journal
A hobby journal is your space to document your passions, get inspired and keep notes on your experiences along the way.
Use your journal to jot down tips and hacks that relate to your hobby, ideas for future projects and notes from books on the topic.
Whether it’s art history, gardening or quilting, a hobby journal lets you take ownership of your free time.
It’s also a great tool to list your goals, record what you’re working on, organize ideas and plan future projects.
The benefits: reduces stress and improves well-being.
Writer’s tip: Set aside time for your hobby in your daily planner and keep that commitment to yourself.
Hobby journal example:
Studying art history:
Currently reading Cellini’s Autobiography and his lively and sparkling account of the Italian Renaissance.
Notes to self: find some YouTube videos on goldsmiths of the Renaissance, and a bio of Raphael. Flip through the History of Art for a refresher on Renaissance aesthetics.
23. Scrapbook journal
A scrapbook journal is your personal mix of writing, images, drawings and collages coming together to express yourself and document your days.
Use your scrapbook journal to collect inspiring images from magazines, quotes from books and photos from your travels.
Keep your museum or movie ticket stubs in your scrapbook along with impressions on how you felt that day.
Use your scrapbook to manifest your future goals and record your everyday moods.
Or use it as an alternative to social media to document your experiences in a more mindful way. A scrapbook preserves your memories, keeps your souvenirs and fuels your creativity.
The benefits: engages your mind and boosts your imagination.
Writer’s tip: Include just about anything in your scrapbook, from cafe receipts and stickers to labels and images from flyers. What’s routine now will someday be an interesting memory.
Scrapbook journal example:
24. Self-care journal
A self-care journal tracks how well you’re taking care of yourself emotionally, spiritually and physically.
It’s your space to jot down recipes for hair masks and notes about healing your inner child. It’s your space to vent on a bad day and brainstorm how to make yourself feel better.
A self-care journal is especially valuable if you struggle to make time for yourself or see self-care as selfish. Use your self-care journal to unpack those feelings and learn to be kinder to yourself.
The benefits: helps identify your triggers, teaches self-healing and boosts your self-esteem.
Writer’s tip: Use your self-care journal to track your existing wellness habits and brainstorm new ways to make yourself feel good.
Self-care journal example:
This weekend’s self-care to-do list: – clean all windows and declutter desk – do a hair mask – try yoga by candlelight
To research: – rosemary to boost hair growth – journal prompts for shadow work
Journaling will change your life if you turn it into a consistent habit and find the journaling methods that work best for you.
And while a blank page can be very intimidating, journaling will bring you incredible benefits once you get over that initial hurdle.
Use these journaling examples to get inspired, boost your self-esteem and enrich your life through whatever you’re dealing with.
I would love to hear from you. What journaling examples resonate with you?