Ways to Fill a Blank Journal and Overcome "Journaling Fear"

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First I'll say I love journals. I've loved them since I was a teenager.  Back then, for me a journal was simply a place to write about what was going on in my life and save the occasional postcard or ticket stub.

I love reading the journals from my teen years. Apparently,  I was never at home back then.  Also, my friends and I walked everywhere.  ("First we walked to Venture, and next to Ellen's house, and then to the drugstore."  These place are all miles from each other, by the way.)

I don't remember most of the things I wrote about, so I'm glad the memories were written down.  Adolescent girls can be really dramatic.

Here's a line from the journal I kept when I was 15, after a trip to the mall with my friends. "We shopped around a while and kept going into the bathrooms to change our nail polish."  (How much nail polish could we have bought?)

The memories of my teachers, friends, my immature behavior and silly quarrels -- all there.

Diary journals are wonderful, but notebooks can be used for so many other things too.  They can be lists, planners (bullet journals), and even pieces of art.

(I have more ideas for ways to fill your notebooks at the end of the post!)

This is the journal from my sophomore year of high school, mid 1970s.

I also want my journals to be visual and fun,with hand lettering and colorful elements. (But, they don't have to be.  A journal can be simple or elaborate -- no rules.)

I love washi tape and stickers. I'm always trying to think of creative things to do in a journal and ways to use my journals.

This beautiful floral washi is really wide, 4.5 inches!  Not your typical washi, but it really  makes a statement. You can cut out the flowers for stickers, use punches, cut squares - It's amazingly versatile.
4.5 inches wide

These are some of my favorite stickers for journals.

Ways to fill a blank journal ~ anartfulmom.com
Yes, those are llamas on the bottom right. 

In the recent past, I've had glorious intentions and have purchased multiple journals, but, sadly, many of them are still blank.

Why are they blank?  Because the pages aren't removable, and I'm afraid I'll make a "mistake."  Fear of journaling!  I don't like crossed out words or white out. Silly, I know.

I found this Tul discbound notebook recently though. This one is the junior size (5 1/2 x 8 1/2,) but it also comes in a letter size.  Because it's a discbound style, the pages are removable.  I can remove pages or move them around.  The cover is leather, and it's so nice.

The Tul notebook comes with lined paper, but there are several different kinds of refills available. Or you can pick up the Tul Discbound hole punch and use any kind of paper you want.  My paper preference is the HP Premium 32 paper, because it's super smooth (safe for my brush pens), acid free, and heavyweight. It's my go-to paper for brush lettering practice, journaling, etc.

A ring binder style is another type of journal that allows for removing pages and moving them around.  There are advantages and disadvantages to any type of journal or notebook (which, I guess is why I have so many different types!)  I don't have the one below, but I've added it to my wish list in the A5 size (planner size, so it's smaller than a regular ring binder.)  It has a flexible cover and really pretty dividers.

Another thing that has helped with  my fear of mistakes, are these Frixion Erasable Gel Pens. They erase very well and appeal to my sense of color and fun.

Here are some ways to fill your blank journal:

Gratitude journal


Sketches and doodles



Lettering practice

Book log


Prayer Journal

Home decor journal



How do you use your journals?

Linking to:

Creatively Crafty at Try It, Like It
Home Matters 
Sew It, Cook It, Craft It
Thursday Favorite Things
Handmade Monday at Sum of Their Stories
Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy
Inspire Me Monday at Mostly Blogging
Snickerdoodle Create Bake Make at Eye Love Knots
Handmade Mondays at Sum of Their Stories
The Love My Little Cottage  Link Party at Love My Little Cottage
The Really Crafty Link Party at Keeping it Real
Craftastic Monday at Sew Can Do


  1. I am a total journaling nerd, and I love this post. I kept a gratitude journal for 6 years, and am now transitioning into a "list journal." I think of topics I want to explore; e.g. What Does Love Look Like? or How Do You Define Satisfaction?" and just add to the lists as I think of things. It's kind of fun.

    1. Thanks Michele! I love the idea of a list journal. It sounds like so much fun and will be so much fun to look back on. My son does this a lot. He has so many wonderful lists! Thanks for visiting today!

  2. Pam, I only just saw this now. Yes, you've got to use those journals! Journaling is too good to miss out on because of fear. Have you kept up with it since?

    1. Hi Carin! I am trying to get into the journaling groove! I love having a journal with removable pages now!

  3. I've never taken to the beautiful journals that I see in stores. I write seriously, but I don't want anything that asks to look perfect--or even passable--once I'm done with it. I make a mess--notes, rewrite, rewrites of rewrites, endless crossing out.

    1. I understand, Ellen! My day to day planning notes are scribbles, and I do my serious writing on the computer. As a pen/stationery/artist/journal nerd, though, I am drawn to pretty journals for memories, quotes, lettering, etc. My perfectionist tendencies need to go though!

  4. I've kept a journal for years. And years. I type it now. A record of my day. I can't believe how many times I've turned to my journal to remember dates. Or purchases. Or birthdays. Or what the weather was like a year ago because this stupid winter is, I'm sure, twice as long as last year's...

    1. That is so great. I wish I had done more than I have. I'm grateful for the little bits I wrote when my kids were babies. I would never remember that stuff now.

  5. This year I started a book log journal. I've always kept book lists but having an actual journal with favorite quotes from each book and thoughts about the book has helped me be more intentional about what I'm reading and keep my reading pace going this year.

    1. Wow, I love that idea! So much better than just a book list. I'm going to borrow this idea!

  6. Hi Pam, just popped across after your message - sorry I haven't been here for ages! Everything is looking very beautiful on here - lovely and light. My working journals are shocking - you wouldn't want to see them! Scribbled lists of things to do that often reflect my mood, so most days you can't read my writng :-). Re the washi tape, I've never really understood how to use it - so this is helpful. I'll try to be more inventive.

    1. Hi Gilly, Thanks so much for the nice words about my blog! My to-do lists are very messy too. My planner with my to-do's is very utilitarian and not pretty, and sometimes I can't even read my own writing. But I love to be creative in my actual journals! I have a bunch of washi tape, and I need to use it more. It's so useful and pretty. I'm so glad you stopped by.


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