Morgan’s Mumbles: 15 Journals to Keep by teen contributor Morgan Randall
In last week’s post, I talked about keeping journals, and I wanted to share a list of ideas of journals to keep to spark ideas of something new for you to start right now. Feel free to mix up any of these in ways that work best for you, as journaling is a super individual practice and should be a very unique experience for each person. (I have inserted pictures of my notebooks, however, know that mine definitely aren’t the “prettiest” ones of these journals, they are practical applications in my life that work. Know that yours can be more creative than mine or far more simplistic, do whatever works best for you.)
Commonplace books (or journals) are a collection of quotes you hear, ideas, and random bursts of inspiration. These were mostly kept during the renaissance, but I think that is a thing a lot of people tend to subconsciously compile, be it through notes in our phones or random sticky notes. I personally enjoy keeping quotes that inspire me (and random bursts of inspiration) in its own area so that I always have something to look at when I need inspiration.
Bullet Journals can often be intimidating by the large community that surrounds them, personally I love the practice of having one place to collect ideas and create a planner that works for my schedule depending on the week. I have made complicated ones before, but currently, my process is rather simple. I only use a black pen and a few thin markers to color code. I create a calendar (for the year, month, and then weekly setups) along with habit, sleep, and anxiety trackers. This works for me, but feel free to add to it as much as you want.
I personally do not keep a journal, however, I plan on starting one soon, I know it is something a lot of people benefit from having and enjoy the process every day of having somewhere to reflect on their emotions and the daily events. I also think it is really cool to have a record of your life so that you can always have something to reflect back on to see exactly what was happening in your life (be it mentally or physically)
This is another one I plan on starting soon because I oftentimes have really strange dreams and I like to look back on them to get ideas or try to decipher what they meant. This kind of journal would be somewhere where you write down your dreams every night (or whenever you have a dream that sparks your interest), and it would help you remember your dreams as well as be able to reflect on them (if that is something you are interested in).
Art journals come in all different forms (as do most journals) some people keep it more as a sketchbook, whereas others use it more as a collection of collages. I do both, depending on my mood, it is an easy way to create without the pressure of impressing anyone else because it is an art just for yourself. Below is a pencil sketch that normally I would have lost the paper to, but having it in a journal allows me to look back on it in case I decide one day to make it into an actual painting.
This is NOT a journal you should currently be keeping, because you shouldn’t be traveling. But once the world opens back up, and you can safely travel I recommend you log those travel times in a journal where you collect records of events that happened on that trip, ticket stubs, and pictures. This will allow you to have a record of your vacations and be able to easily remember them all. This is also a great place to keep packing lists!
This is another idea for logging what you are reading, collecting quotes, and writing reviews of books. If you enjoy annotating while you read, this might also provide you with more space to write all your thoughts and ideas out while you read. This can collect your opinions on books, and noteworthy points so if you want to look back to remember your opinion (or maybe an important quote) it is easy to access. This is my reading log (that I started in June), I haven’t updated it but I think it is a good layout if you need an idea for a log.
If you are an aspiring author, or maybe you just have a lot of ideas and short bursts of inspiration. I recommend keeping a journal of your writings. I have a poetry journal, and one for book ideas. These can include plot structures, studies, character creation, and even actual writing. Let it flow natural and collect important things for your current or future self, while writing.
I keep my gratitude reflection to a line each day in my bullet journal, but if gratitude is something you are consciously trying to work on maybe keeping a journal for it would be best. For some ideas of things to include, I would recommend a daily “Gratitude Log” where you write down the thing you were most grateful about each day, a running list of things that you are grateful for that sometimes you take for granted (maybe this is family, good books, morning coffee, or even just waking up), and (if this is something you can do) just write down everything that happens that you are grateful for. Let this book act as a reminder, when you have hard days, months, or even years that there is always something to be grateful for even if it’s hard to see.
Brain Dump Journal
This journal is exactly what it sounds like, a place to collect notes, ideas, lists, and anything else that doesn’t normally have a place. Let it grow organically and just be a space to get things out of your mind and onto paper.
Time Capsule Journal
My version of this is more of a junk journal. I collect random things from daily life that when put together into my journal form a “Time Capsule” of my life. Personally, my current journal is overflowing. It has random sketches, pictures, receipts, scraps of paper, and random notes given to me by people. This is all “junk” in theory, but I put it in a journal that I can always flip through and remember each moment for each item and lets me be able to easily look back on specific moments.
For me, this is a collection of recipes I have tried (or would like to try) and other random food-related things. These “random things” are nutrition facts, substitutes for items, grocery lists, and even notes about what I am eating and how it makes me feel. I recently went vegetarian and am in the process of going vegan (or at least completely cutting out dairy and only using farm-fresh/locally sourced eggs), so this allows me space to consciously keep track of foods I enjoy and new restrictions I am placing on my diet.
Similar to a reading journal, this is a space to create spreads/collages of songs, albums, and artists. If you enjoy listening to and dissecting music, I recommend keeping a journal like this to create a space for you to reflect on new songs and albums. And allow you to rate them, mark down what you liked and didn’t like, and even how it made you feel. If you enjoy creating music, take this a step farther and include things you enjoy in music and would like to try, along with lyrics that you think of or composition ideas.
This is probably the vaguest, but I recommend keeping a journal of something that specifically inspires you. I have a few journals like this. One is a collection of historical figures that inspire me (and that I wasn’t taught about in school), one is a workout plan/log, and one on sustainability. Create a journal full of things that inspire you.
Philosophy and Theology Journal
This one is slightly more targeted at people who enjoy studying thought processes and ideologies. Create a place where you can collect notes on major philosophers and their thought processes. And if you are religious/spiritual, or enjoy studying those things, extend this into theological beliefs and study the differences between religions and how they have evolved over time. If you are religious/spiritual, you can extend this into a prayer or meditation journal if you are comfortable with it.
Here are some additional TLT posts that you may find helpful in your journaling journey.
Morgan Randall, Teen Contributor
Morgan recently graduated high school and is currently enrolled to attend college in the fall getting her BA in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis on Design and Technology. She loves theatre, writing, reading, and learning. But something that has always been important to her is being a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one, and being a catalyst for change in any way possible.
Filed under: Teen Programming
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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