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I collect notebooks like it’s my job. At any point in time, you could find at least two different types of notebooks in my work bag, one on my person, and about 10 or so on my desk at home. Some are notebooks for novels and miscellaneous, some are planners, and some are journals.

While some of them have yet to be opened (you know, saving them for the right topic or writing inspiration), most of them somewhat have a theme to them. I even keep some of the ones I have finished simply because they have the rough draft and ideas from some of the first novels I wrote.

I always want to be writing, but I’m sometimes not sure what I want to be writing. If you’re like me and have a ton of notebooks, or if you need an excuse to go buy new ones, here’s how you can fill them (or justify your purchase) with some journaling ideas.

Writing journal

Keep a dedicated notebook to your writing endeavors. While I sometimes dedicate a single notebook to a single book, you can create an index and combine all your writing projects into one book.

Use the pages to plan out articles, plot and outline your novel, or even write chapters and character descriptions. Make sure you properly label your pages (number, subject, project title, etc.) so you can reference them in the index or find easily in the future.

I used a writing journal to write almost 10K of a novel in 2018 and I use them now to write scenes or dialogue that I come up with when I’m not near my computer. It’s a great way to get writing done when you’re not at a workstation or if you get random thoughts throughout your day. I also use them to write out article outlines to be written at a later time.

Dream journal

If you have some crazy dreams, here’s where you can write them out. Don’t necessarily try to make sense of them, but get them out first. After you get out the story, that’s when you can dive into the details and figure out why you’re dreaming of your cat being president.

You might even be able to turn your dreams into writing ideas, especially if you have a recurring dream or a sequence of events that can be built into a story.

Food journal

If you’re working on an eating schedule or trying to track your health, a food journal is really helpful. Keep details of everything you need to remember, such as calories, types of food, macronutrients, and time of day. Looking back, you can also keep track of energy levels and mood to study how certain foods affect your mood or productivity. Find patterns and learn to stay accountable to your eating goals.

Travel journal

If you are traveling to new places, why not keep track of everything you do? List out great places to eat, make a plan for a future visit, or scope out the types of locations you want to see. You can use this to start a travel blog, keep track of the places you go, and know where to visit if you go back.

My favorite is a journal to track the hikes and trails I go on. When I lived in Ohio over the summers, I made a point to visit almost all the trails in Cuyahoga National Park. If I was on a time crunch or needed to know a good trail to run, I didn’t have to scan my brain to remember one trail out of about 50 I had gone on. I went to my journal, figured out the trail that met my needs, and was on my way.

Art journal

Are you an artist? Most likely, you keep something on you to sketch in or list out ideas for a future piece. Find an unlined journal and keep a pencil on you for random sparks of inspiration.

You can also turn this into a scrapbook of sorts. If you are in contact with lots of different physical sources of inspiration, such as pictures, magazines, newspapers, and more, consider using this journal for pasting inspiration. I like journals for art to have a little folder in the back or front cover so I can store the clippings I find until I can sit down and paste it in.

Reading journal

If you have reading goals this year, the reading journal is awesome. Keep track of all the books you are reading, store quotes from the book, or write out your thoughts and reactions to the passages. This can turn into a commonplace book, which is great, so make sure you list out what you are referencing. You might be able to tag it in a future blog post.

Poetry journal

This one is clutch to have as a smaller, more transportable notebook simply because you can find inspiration everywhere. If you can fit something you like in your pocket, consider turning it into a poetry journal. Write out thoughts, quotes that intrigue you, or start writing a poem based on your observations while you’re out and about. It doesn’t have to be polished, but it can be resourceful in the future.

Idea journal

If you’re just someone who wants to keep an idea journal for everything, own it. A notebook doesn’t have to be dedicated to anything specific, but a bigger one meant to be imperfect can help relieve some of the stress you might have trying to categorize every idea you have.

If I come up with a writing idea, but all I have is my poetry journal, I might get a little frustrated. You never know when inspiration for a certain topic might strike, so an idea journal is great for the crazy life. I prefer a bigger notebook for this, with larger pages so I can expand on the idea while I’m thinking of it or create mind maps that I can fill in later.

Workout journal

Similar to the food journal, the workout journal is meant to keep track of all things related to your workout routine. Set up a schedule for your workouts, keep track of your progress, and keep a list of exercises for future workout ideas. Especially if you consult with a trainer or a nutritionist, this can be helpful. You’re also able to visualize your workouts by week so you don’t forget to do leg day.


Want all or some of these without the commitment to twenty notebooks?

Bullet journal

I’ve written several posts on how and why to create a bullet journal, but the best reason is that it’s flexible enough to fit anyone’s needs. The collection portion of a bullet journal is where you can focus on certain topics without disrupting the rest of your notebook. It is organized and customizable to fit your desires.

If you want to keep all of these types of journals, create a bullet journal and set up a collection. For example, you can create a reading list as one collection and quotes from a specific book at a later collection. Things don’t have to be in order, especially because you have an index in the front to keep track of all your pages.

Now, you don’t have to pick and choose which ideas you’re going to keep track of. Have a page for writing, a page for hiking trails, and a page for all your future ideas. Use as many or as few pages as you want, design them to fit your needs, and only keep track of what you want.


If you’re still curious about why you might want a bullet journal, how to set one up, or the different things you can track, check out By the Notebooks for ideas. You can also check out this roundup of best articles to create a bullet journal.

Steps to Create a Bullet Journal for Writing

Posted by:The Winter Writer

This blog is the brainchild of someone who wanted a complete lifestyle change so I got rid of all of my excess stuff and wrote a novel in 10 days. I now write for fun and coach others who want to cultivate their passion and get stuff done at laura-winter.com.

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