What is a Journal?

In November 2016, I wrote an entry in my journal which I titled "What is a journal?" I don't usually title my journal entries, but the entry seemed "meta" (a journal entry about journaling), so I started with a title.

I have actively written in a journal for a few decades now and I have often thought about why I write. Why am I keeping this journal? Below is my list of many types of journaling. I don't limit my journal to just one use; for example, it can serve as a dream journal and a history. It can be a health diary and a workbook. Don't just journal for journaling's sake—there are many benefits to journaling and the ideas below can help you make your journal something that helps you or others.

What is a journal? 
  1. A history, collection of memories (daily, deliberate writing of a memoir while life is happening)
  2. An archive/scrapbook (for tickets, programs, etc.)
  3. A book of wisdom with lessons to remember and learn from
  4. Something written for the next generation
  5. Tool to use for quotidian life: for grocery lists, quotes, quick notes, etc.
  6. Workbook to work through thoughts, issues, frameworks to improve one’s life
  7. Notebook to write thoughts/learnings from events (in church, work, school, life, talks)
  8. Sketchbook
  9. Ideation tool: new ventures, business ideas, ideas for projects, creative endeavors
  10. Calendar/date book
  11. Doodle book: drawing, for boredom, something to do while watching TV, random thoughts
  12. Book of lists: tallying, counting, recording (finances/budgets/spending, attendance, gifts that need thank you, etc.)
  13. Therapeutic: stream of consciousness: introspective writing out of feelings 
  14. Health diary: track food/diet, exercise, etc.
  15. Shared journal: family journal, guest book for visitors to write messages, etc.
  16. Harriet the Spy journal: observations of others’ lives (friends, family members) and learning from their successes/failures
  17. Storytelling: fiction based on experiences, good bedtime stories to tell children
  18. Visionary: goals, hopes, dreams
  19. Gratitude/miracle journal: each day, three things I am thankful for or miracles that happened today
  20. Dream journal
  21. Letters to future self: reminders to review (e.g., when I'm a parent, I will...)
  22. Planning book: table setup or room setup diagrams, a list of who to invite to the wedding, wireframe of website, etc.
  23. Family history: collection of family memories, stories told by grandma, details you want preserved, sketch of four-generation family tree, etc. 


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