A Few Favorite Journal Writing Tools and Resources

journal writing

Journal writing tools and resources.

We usually understand a journal to be a place for writing about ourselves, but journals can be used for plenty of other purposes, many of which are especially useful to writers.

I’ve had my share of adventures in journal writing. As a teen, I kept a diary. Later, I had a poetry journal. I tried dream journaling, art journaling, and sometimes I keep a gratitude journal.

I believe journal writing is a huge boon to writers, especially when we’re not working on a specific project or when we’re looking for our next big project.

Today, I’d like to share a few of my favorite journal writing tools and resources.


A Place to Create

It’s been said a million times: If you want to be a writer, you have to write. I would add that if you want to be creative, you have to create. Sitting around and waiting for a big, blockbuster idea won’t do you any good. You’ve got to practice. And keeping a journal is a great way to practice writing and foster creativity every single day.

What I love best about my journal is that there are no rules. It’s my own little creative space. I use it for freewriting, sketching, and writing down my thoughts. I don’t write in my journal every day, but before I started blogging and writing professionally, I was pretty diligent about using my journal for routine writing practice.

I’ve been poking around the web in search of some of the best tools and resources for journaling with an emphasis on creativity and writing. Here’s what I found:

Moleskine Journals

moleskine notebooks

Moleskines are the most popular notebooks for writers and artists. They come in various sizes ranging from pocket-sized to 8 x 10 (inches) and with various paper, including blank or lined pages, thick paper, or regular note paper. There’s a pocket in the back, a placeholder ribbon, and a strap that keeps the journal closed. Moleskines were popular with Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway, so they’ve got solid endorsement. I’ve had one for several years but only recently started using it and discovered that I absolutely love it.

The Artist’s Way

the artists way

This classic book for writers and artists is well known for giving us “morning pages” and inspiring writers, artists, and other creatives to create on a daily basis. The Artist’s Way has become a staple among all kinds of artists from filmmakers to crafters. You’re sure to find something to help you establish a writing routine, improve your writing skills, or overcome writer’s block in this book, which includes a 12-week program packed with activities and exercises that you can do.

Paper Mate Profile Pens

papermate profile pens

I’ve never been into fancy, expensive pens. Frankly, I go through far too many pens to spend a lot of money on them and we all know how easily pens get lost. I also like to have a range of colors at my disposal. I’ll use a color that matches my mood, or I’ll use colors to create outlines and mind maps that are color coded and easy to navigate. These Paper Mate Profile Pens are the best! They write smoothly, have a nice grip, and are affordable. Plus, you can buy them singly or in a package of assorted colors. They’re also great for doodling and sketching in the margins!

Day One Journal App

day one journal app

One of the great things about technology for writers is that it provides a simple way to create, organize, and store your work. Gone are the days when we filled notebooks with novels and then transcribed them on typewriters. New technology is just as useful for journaling and keeping notes. Day One is a journal app available for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. It’s one of the most popular journal apps with features that include password lock, calendar view, photos, inspirational messages, plus it syncs with iCloud and Dropbox.

Wreck This Journal

wreck this journal

Wreck This Journal unleashes your inner artist and allows you to be creative without fear of failure because the journal is designed to be wrecked. It’s a great way to get your creativity out of the box. As you work your way through the journal, you’ll cut, tear, and thrash the book. You start letting go of constraints and inhibitions, allowing yourself to make mistakes and create poorly crafted prose, giving your creativity the courage it needs to take risks.

A Few More Goodies

  1. Managed by a team of journal guides, Journal in a Box features a blog about journaling, home courses on journaling, and a line of journals that you can buy.
  2. I love this: 1000 Journals are traveling from hand to hand throughout the world.
  3. Here at Writing Forward, we’ve talked a lot about writing groups, but did you know there are also journal groups? (I didn’t!)
  4. Before Moleskine, this was my favorite journal: The Watson-Guptill Sketchbook. I’ve been using these for well over a decade and they house my most precious journal writing material (freewrites, poems, reflective journals, drawings). They come in various sizes and colors, have hard covers and blank pages.
  5. Last but not least, this lovely little video explains the art of journaling and the freedom that a journal brings:

People use journals for a variety of purposes — for self-improvement, personal reflection, heritage preservation, creativity, tracking professional progress, and writing practice. Do you keep a journal or use a notebook? How has journal writing helped you? Got any journaling tips or resources to add to this list? Leave a comment, and keep journaling!

Adventures in Writing The Complete Collection

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.

Comments

14 Responses to “A Few Favorite Journal Writing Tools and Resources”

  1. Dawn Herring says:

    Melissa,
    Delightful post! I love how there are so many approaches to keeping a journal, whether through word or image.

    Just wanted to add to your resource list my website: http://dawnherring.net/jwindex.php which contains links of categories for all things journaling.
    I also host #JournalChat Live, for all things journaling, on Twitter; it takes place every Thursday at 4 CST/2 PST with a different topic each week from the Pick of the Week from #JournalChat Links Edition.
    I also have Refresh Journal, which contains journaling prompts and questions and info on #JournalChat which you can sign up for here: http://www.refreshwithdawnherring.blogspot.com/.

    Folks are welcome to follow my @JournalChat account where I post links for all things journaling Monday through Friday.

    Thanks for providing a terrific journaling resource list.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition

  2. Yvonne Root says:

    Melissa,

    What an honor it is for Journal in a Box to be included in your list of resources. Thank you.

    We always look forward to reading your articles and learning from you.

    Yvonne

  3. Tiffiny says:

    You always have wonderful informative posts. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing all the great links. ;)

  4. Hi Melissa. I would like to let your readers know about writingthroughlife.com , and especially about my weekly journaling prompts. Also want to say that Dawn Herring is a wonderful journaling connection to have, as well.

  5. Melissa, thanks for this great post! This is fantastic advice, and I love all these journaling resources! I’m definitely taking some time to poke my way through them :)
    A year or two ago I heard the little tip that keeping a writing journal, aside from a personal journal, could be a huge help. I started to try it out, writing down random thoughts, descriptions, or anecdotes from my novel. I couldn’t believe some of the gold that came out of that! Some of those ten minute sessions turned into short stories or novel scenes. Journal writing is a great habit for writers!

    • Hi Jessica, That’s great! I’m so glad you’re enjoying all these links and resources. I have a main journal for freewriting, poetry, and reflections. But I also have this fiction notebook/journal that I started about a decade ago. It’s been a wonderful creative space for me :)

  6. Debby Hanoka says:

    I’d like to recommend a Windows-based software app: Life Journal For Writers. I have used it for many years. It can be purchased either by mail or downloaded. I still use Version 2.X, but I believe they are up to Version 3.X.

  7. Bill Polm says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Good post.

    I’ve been journaling for about 10 years. I write and also do watercolors and acrylics. I started out keeping sketchbooks, and over the years that evolved into a combo of sketchbook, journal, scrapbook, with a little mixed media artbook moves thrown in recently.

    Really lovely, though not cheap, hand made and sewnibinding that lays flat leather journals can be had from http://www.renaissance-art.com. The paper is Arches Text Wove (not called Velin Arches) is wonderful for most media (not oils) for those who like to include artwork with their writing. The paper dates from the French Revolution. I’m filling my 16th now. Caveat: the paper has a texture, which means if you write in it with a foundain pen, I recommend at least a medium nib, broad is even better. But it takes gel or ballpoin or pencil fine.

    Also, this program “The Journal” is worth checking out. You can include photos, video clips, etc. You can get writing prompts and other nifty helps. I use it for logging activities and including photos the easy way and also recording email c onversations that are important to me. Web site:
    http://www.davidrm.com/thejournal/

    Regards…

    • Hi Bill, I recently started drawing (again) and am looking at options for a color medium. I like oil pastels but they aren’t good for fine detail. I’m thinking about getting some watercolor paints and/or pencils. I actually prefer brighter, bold colors (like oil pastels) but watercolors seem like a better fit for me. It’s either those or ink pens. For now, I’m sketching in a Moleskine with graphite pencils and occasionally, colored pencils. I’m a bit chagrined at how expensive quality art supplies are. Quite an investment to get professional quality paints, brushes, and paper!

      “The Journal” looks good but I’m a Mac user and it appears to be available for Windows only. I should have included Evernote in this post. One of the things I love about Evernote is that it works and syncs across all platforms. I can write something on my computer and access it later on my iPhone. That’s great for mobility.