Creating a Journal Template

15 Jan

I talk about keeping a journal a lot. I think it's important for many reasons. But I probably don't have to sell many people on that point. The problem isn't wanting to write in a journal, the issue for many is that they don't know what to write. The blank page is intimidating. That's why journal templates can be a great help when starting to journal.

The idea of a template is to choose several things that you'll use as a format to write each time you sit down with your journal. Those things can vary from person to person. And quite honestly. what you write probably doesn't matter as much as the act of writing itself does. Once you get in the habit of filling the page, it gets easier over time to sit down and write. Some people find templates helpful at first and then branch out on their own free writing. Others enjoy the structure and reliability of a template and stick to it for life.

I'm kind in the middle of both camps. I need the structure of a template at certain times - when the words don't flow, when I've skipped some weeks and am out of the routine, when my outer life is hectic or my inner world chaotic it helps to have a pre-made plan to work from. Eventually, I get into writing more spontaneously, but I always come back to a template.

My template changes as my life and interests have changed. It's meant to suit you and your season of life so changing it up can help. And re-evaluating it from time to time, especially when writing feels stale, is helpful too.

There are plenty of template or journal ideas on the internet and that can be a good place to start. But it doesn't have to be that complicated. I recommend using numbers to give you some structure, but the numbers can vary depending on what you what to write about and how long you want to spend. In the list below, I've included components of a template along with some basic numbers. To make you own template, choose a few you'd like to write about regularly and tweak the numbers as you see fit. 

After you read through the list of ideas, I'll share two common templates I use often to give you some idea of how this might work.

  • 5 things you're thankful for
  • 3 things that happened today
  • 1 thing you want to tell God about
  • 5 things that made you happy
  • 2 things that made you sad
  • 1 thing you want to think more about
  • 10 things you noticed about your day
  • 2 people you interacted with
  • 1 fun thing you did
  • 2 ways you saw God in the people and circumstances of your day
  • 3 things that you want to pray about
  • 1 thing you need to have a better day tomorrow
  • 3 things you want to do tomorrow
  • 1 thing that simply must get done
  • 5 reasons to smile
  • 2 people I'm thankful for

Here are a few templates I use often:

3 Things I'm Thankful For
2 Things that Happened Today
1 Thing I want to tell God


3 Things I'm Thankful For
3 Things I Did Today
3 Things I Want to do Tomorrow

These are just samples, and I hope you get the idea. You can choose the number of things and rewrite any of these to work for you. And I would love to hear what you come up with. Share your templates in the comments and maybe you'll inspire someone to start journaling!

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