How to Journal

How to Journal

How Should You Journal?

How you journal is really up to you.

If writing long entries is what you enjoy or find helpful, do so.

Even the format is up to you.

You may jot down a few bullets or lines to serve as your memory aid.

However you do it, find a medium that’s comfortable.


4 Main Journaling Styles

As guide, you may adopt any of four journal writing styles: 


1 - Freestyle Journal Writing

​Freestyle journal writing is a no holds barred kind of writing.

It is done your way -  unrestricted, non-restrictive, not time bound, unadulterated, uncensored, unstructured, non-directed, and uncontrolled. 

It may be random, though not always and not as a general rule. ​

You write without strict consideration (or serious thought) of the following:​

  • what to write (topic or theme)
  • why write (goal)
  • ​how long to write (duration)
  • how often to write (frequency)
  • how fast you write (speed)
  • what order or guide to follow (structure)
  • where to write (place)
  • what to write on or with (material)
  • how to write (format or presentation)
  • when to write (time)
  • how much to write (length)
  • how to write (tone).

The bottomline is, you journal on your own terms. 

Art Journaling


2 - Guided​ Journaling

As the term implies, guided journaling follows a guide, model or blueprint.

You get directions by way of:

  • prompts
  • instructions
  • guidelines
  • structure
  • topics
  • themes
  • templates​
  • questions
  • patterns
  • examples
  • quotes
  • spaces
  • dots
  • timing
  • reminders
  • ticklers.

​Here's an example.

For a 30-day gratitude journal, you get leads on what to write about on each day of journaling. 

​You are usually asked to list 3-5 things that you are thankful for.

What concrete ways or specific actions you would do to express gratitude. 

For inspiration, you find quotations on top or below a number of lined pages. 

Blank spaces are provided for doodles or drawings. ​

In general, you follow a guide for each day of journaling. ​


3 - Art Journaling

How to Journal

Journals are great to express creativity, whether done through free journal writing or guided writing. 

However, there's a third way that has grown in popularity among artists and non-artists alike.

It is art journaling.

Art journaling is keeping a visual or graphic journal or diary using art, imagery and text.

Graphic art like what you see in an art journal is touching, moving and powerful.

An art journal is usually peppered with words or phrases, drawings, doodles, sketches, paintings, charts, cut-outs, photos, shapes, stickers, symbols, quotes, conversations, poems, songs, stories, patterns, graphic marks, and whatever feels good to be on the journal pages. 

Artistic or flat?​

Colored or plain? 

​Clean or messy?

Planned or random?​

Comprehensible or not?​

​They are immaterial. 

What counts is expressing (or making sense of) what you think and feel in graphic and visual form.


4 - Bullet Journaling

Bullet journaling is a way of keeping track of things you want and need to do using a notebook.

A bullet journal has seven parts:

Part 1 - Key

​The first page of your bullet journal is your key, which shows the codes you use for your bullet entries.

Here are the traditional codes that you may adopt, modify or add to: ​

Traditional Bullet Journalling Codes

? (Dot) Task

X Completed Task

> Migrated Task

? Appointment

? Completed Appointment

? Migrated Appointment

- Notes

Part 2 - Index

Your next two to four pages are for indexing. The index will let you quickly find any collection, or get to a particular month.

Title each page as an index page and move on to the next section.​

Part 3 - Future Log

​This two-page spread records the coming 6 months. It is great for recording events or planned activities such as birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

For convenience, you may use the traditional yearly calendar for this.

Be sure to add or note the page number and record your future log in your index.

Part 4 - Monthly log

​Each month, do a monthly log where you record appointments and due dates. You may use a grid layout, or one line for each day of the month.

While the monthly log isn’t where you’ll track most of your tasks, it comes in handy when you need to take note of a doctor's appointment or scheduled school meeting. 

Part 5 - Daily Log​

​This is where you’ll spend most of your journaling time.

Here's what you do:

  • Each day, start a new section.
  • Create your to-do list including things you need done, reminders, concerns, and anything you find important.
  • Cross off each item when done or taken care of.
  • Move the items to the monthly or future log, or migrate them to a different day, as needed.

Part 6 - Migrating Tasks

This part is done at the end of the day or first thing in the morning.

The goal here is dealing with each entry from your daily list by ensuring that they are done, recorded as done, crossed out if already irrelevant, and migrated to the next day's list.

Here are the steps for this:

  • Review your list of tasks set for the day past
  • Complete those that you still can
  • Cross out tasks already done or no longer needed
  • Migrate tasks that were not checked off or done.

Part 7 - Collections​

This is a thematical list or collection of things of interest to you, whether personal or professional.

Examples of this are places to visit, people to work with, courses to attend, books to write, among others.

To build your collections, follow these steps:

  • Start each list on a blank page.
  • Label or create a title for each one.
  • Write down the content for each collection.
  • Note down the page you’re on and add the collection to your index page.


Which Is the Better One

​Between the four, which is the better style?

Who knows?

Noone can tell but you.

There's no right or wrong way.​

The most important part is starting your journal and keeping at it for as long as you can. 

For tips on how to journal, read this post here

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