Ask Our Coach: How do you organize your journals?

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People often have many great questions about journal writing – what to write about, how to get started, how to keep going, and so forth.

The IAJW Ask Our Coach feature – is here to answer your questions.  Feel welcome join the conversation, offer your own responses to the question in our comments below, or simply enjoy the shared learning through our Q&A.

This following question was answered by our Journal Council expert, Joyce Chapman – she always offers thoughtful responses grounded in and from her lifetime experience with journal writing.  Thank you, Joyce!

Question: I have a question for you. I do a lot of spiritual journaling and my current journal has tabs for different topics. I am interested in starting a gratitude journal because I want it to be separate from my normal journal. I also like to take notes from books I read and journal about that. Basically, there seems to be so much to journal about and I could use some ideas of how to organize all the topics. One journal? Many journals based on topics? How do others organize their journals?

Answer by Joyce Chapman:  Hello! I love reading questions like yours because it inspires me to recall when I first started journaling. Over forty years ago, I attended a workshop that was facilitated by a person who followed the Ira Progoff Journaling methods. So I began by keeping a binder with different sections, as his method advised. Like you, I got interested in keeping journals for specific interests I had. I titled my first separate journal, Joyful Moments! Currently I still keep a binder that has sections, because I find that method still works for me. I also have about five different journals I write in because it allows me to gather my thoughts about a certain focus I have. I also like to take notes from the books I read. So…I have journal that is bound and titled: “Reading Log.” The nice thing about using this is I can go back and revisit what is titled “My Review.”

As you likely know there are lots of books about keeping Journals. Each will have many different opinions and beautiful invitations of ways to design your own journaling habits and ideas. Follow what feels right for you and make up your own “rules!”

At the end of each year I reread all my journals and I usually discover I have a new journal I want to create for the New Year!

Please feel free to ask me more questions by visiting my website at In joy, Joyce

2019-01-23T10:51:50+00:00 January 22nd, 2019|Ask the Coach|

One Comment

  1. Lynda Monk January 22, 2019 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I will chime in here as well. I keep one journal, an 8.5 x 11 spiral bound sketch book with blank pages. I do all my journaling in this one place and sometimes highlight different elements of my journal so I can go back and find them for other projects. For example, I have been writing a memoir for many years and some of the raw writing appears in my journal, and I like to mark parts of my journal that may be relevant for this book project.

    Like many of us, I use my journal for so many things and in so many ways. At one point I had so many different journals on the go at once or over time, including my: Gratitude Journal, Business Journal, Ideas Journal, Dream Journal, Travel Journal, Spiritual Journal, and Everyday Journal (I’m smiling even as I type this, just thinking about all the different types of journaling and journals) and I would find I would be at a coffee shop or have a few minutes during my day to journal for 5 minutes and I found myself sometimes thinking, “Oh, I don’t have the right journal with me” and I returned to what was my original (and most frequent) way of organizing my journaling and that is to have it all in one place. For me, that feels more integrated, whole and easier to find/organize!

    I do have one separate journal that is my Manifesting Journal because I do a specific 5 step journaling method in that journal on a regular basis and I like to see that accumulate over time separately from my regular journaling so that I can track how I am progressing with my goals, inspired actions, and more.

    I agree with Joyce, there are no rules – maybe with one exception, regardless of what you use to journal with, how many journals you have on the go, how you organize them, I think it is very important to date our journal entries, as that is one obvious way of organizing them over time and also captures a moment in time, which ultimately, that is what we are doing when we journal – capturing our lives, one moment, one word at a time, to savour it all.

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