What are the best journals you can buy today?
Like many writers, you probably resolved to make some changes this year.
While not all writers have the same goals – getting more private clients, writing a best-selling novel, or breaking into a new niche are just a few common ones – there is an almost-universal truth about what happens to most of them.
If you’ve pushed your goals to the side or something happened and you’ve fallen off the path designed to help you reach them, now’s a good time for a reset.
What you need to get started is a good journal.
Journaling – or freewriting – is stream-of-conscious writing that can boost creativity and thinking. This powerful practice works well with writing prompts and is designed to be unhampered by convention, grammar, and logic.
Journaling can also be a way for you to be more precise about meeting your goals and unlocking your talents. Use your journaling time to set writing goals. You can also include the steps needed to achieve them and deadlines to help you stay on track. It can serve as a motivational tool when you hit creative slumps.
In this post, I’ll elaborate on the best journals you can on Amazon today.
- What Makes a Good Journal?
- The Best Journals To Buy For 2021
- What Is a Bullet Journal?
- The Best Bullet Journals for 2021
- Benefits of Journal Writing
- How to Make Time to Journal
- What Is the Difference Between a Journal and a Notebook?
- What Is the Difference between a Journal and a Diary?
- Buying The Best Journal
- Adam Jelic of MiGoals On Using a Journal
- Best Journal FAQs
- Journaling Resources
What Makes a Good Journal?
The first step in starting a journaling habit is to find one for your particular needs. Although any notebook can suffice, purpose-built journals are even more useful.
Specialized journals provide structure, prompts, and/or guidance to help with this process. They also provide templates, writing prompts and places to write. Some people find the blank pages of a book stokes their creative ideas. For others, a grid notebook works better.
Everyone is different, and you might have to try a few different types before you hit on the right one.
Consider the following factors:
- Size: Will you shove it in your backpack when you head out, or will it live on your bedside table instead? You also want the pages to be large enough so you can pen lots of thoughts but still small enough to feel good in your hands.
- Material: If you travel a lot, opt for a sturdy cover. One that won’t see many outside adventures can probably be made of more delicate material.
- Design: While ruled line journals are probably the most common type, there are also dotted journals, unlined, squares, and others. While you can add drawings and to-do lists to any journal or notebook, unlined paper is easier to draw on.
- Specialized or Not: Does the sight of a blank book make you want to fill it up with your thoughts, or does it paralyze you with feelings of being overwhelmed? If it’s the latter, a specialized journal that gives you specific areas for doodling, making a bucket list, or a chart or a list and writing, for example, might be a better fit.
Ready to start? Let’s see some of the best journal options for writers today.
The Best Journals To Buy For 2021
You can choose from hundreds of specific journals from makers like Lemome, Leuchtturm1917, and BestSelf Co. And cool journals like a Moleskine journal, Wreck This Journal, The Self Journal, or a freedom journal by John Lee Dumas are released regularly.
This curated list with pros and cons can help you sort through the hundreds of journal notebook options available. Also included in the list are some of the best quality paper notebooks.
1. Leather Journal
Measuring eight inches by six inches, its paper is good quality, environmentally friendly because it’s tree-free and made of recycled cotton. You will love the blank pages that are acid free with no bleed through so you don’t have to worry if you use fountain pens or different colors.
Pros: Firm hand-stitched coptic leather binding, 365-day replacement promise for damages.
Cons: The paper is not the best option for sketching or coloring.
- ★ UNLIKE THE DISAPPOINTING FAKE LEATHER JOURNALS MADE BY OTHER BRANDS, Moonster’s leather notebook is made of HAND-CUT, 100% GENUINE WATER BUFFALO LEATHER and premium RECYCLED COTTON PAPER. Handmade in India, our Leather Bound Journal features a BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED, AUTHENTIC DESIGN that will leave its recipients in awe.
- ★ WHILE MANY FAUX LEATHER JOURNALS ARE CONSTRUCTED POORLY, WITH GLUED-ON BINDINGS AND PAGES THAT FALL OUT, our writing journal is a keepsake you’ll have forever, with a HAND-STITCHED COPTIC LEATHER BINDING for pages that stay firmly in place. Filled with 120 sheets/240 pages of creamy, unlined PREMIUM COTTON PAPER recycled from leftover garment industry cloth in India, our travel journal note book is TREE-FREE AND ACID-FREE. This blank journal LIES FLAT, making it a pleasure to write in.
- ★ THE AVERAGE DAILY JOURNAL IS FILLED WITH LOW-QUALITY PAPER THAT degrades the journaling experience. Our writing journals are made with TOP-GRADE MATERIALS, featuring PREMIUM 125gsm EARTH-FRIENDLY PLAIN PAPER that is perfect to write on. NO BLEED THROUGH: Use any ballpoint pen or a slow-flow fountain pen on the handcrafted paper sheets.
- ★ A HANDSOME, THOUGHTFUL GIFT THAT GIVES BACK. For every purchase made, Moonster gives a percentage of its profits to their favorite charity in Africa, that works to PREVENT AND PROTECT CHILDREN FROM CRUELTY AND ABUSE. Our journal for men & women comes beautifully wrapped in an earth-friendly COTTON BAG. Choose between two sizes: 5”X7” OR 8”x6” – the perfect size for travel! ALSO AVAILABLE IN GIFT SETS (Search: B06XDQG92X)
- ★ OUR 365-DAY REPLACEMENT PROMISE: If your rustic journal arrives damaged or you find anything faulty with the craftsmanship, simply CONTACT US DIRECTLY within 1 year and we will send you a FREE REPLACEMENT or FULL REFUND. No questions asked, HASSLE-FREE. Makes an Awesome Anniversary, Graduation, Valentine or Birthday Gift! Buying 2, 3 or 4? SAVE UP TO $8.00! SEE ALL OUR DISCOUNTS BELOW.
2. Classic Notebook
If you’re the kind of writer that likes to stay within the lines, this Thick Classic Notebook features 180 wide-ruled pages just for you – just like a Moleskine Classic ruled notebook. Available in four classic colors – gray, brown, black, and blue – as well as mint, you’ll like this journal notebook because it lays flat, has an elastic band to keep it closed and a pen holder, so you’re always prepared to write your heart out.
Pros: Durable hardcover notebook, has an expandable pocket to hold business cards, notes, etc.
Cons: The binding could be tighter than it is.
3. Spiral-bound Journal
This slender Leather Writing Journal is refillable so you can easily remove pages and swap them out for new ones. Unlined paper lends itself to mind maps, charts, freewriting, and more. The PU leather cover is soft and supple in your hands. Its nautical-themed accents add a sense of adventure and wanderlust to your journaling experience. Available in five colors, there’s also a lined-paper version if you prefer that route.
Pros: Perfect size for a handbag and a schoolbag, perfect for sketching and art.
Cons: Need to make sure the rings that hold the paper don’t flatten out.
4. Tree of Life Writing Journal
Add sophistication and elegance to your journaling time with The Tree of Life Writing Journal. Measuring five inches by eight inches, it features refillable papers, a faux leather cover, a slender ribbon bookmark, and 200 lined pages.
Best of all, it has a magnetic strip that instantly closes it. Small enough for you to slide into your backpack or purse, you can choose from brown, white, or blue for this popular journal notebook.
Pros: Lies flat, has a convenient pen holder.
Cons: The cover is hard to clean.
5. Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice
Former First Lady Michelle Obama is the impetus behind Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice. It’s filled with more than 150 questions to inspire you to find your authentic self and own your power.
There is plenty of room to explore the thoughts, feelings, and ideas her prompts generate.
Pros: Thought-provoking writing prompts, individual messages on each page to motivate you.
Cons: The pages don't stay flat. It is not suitable for article writing.
6. Gratitude Journal
If one of your resolutions is to be more grateful for the good things in your life, the Good Days Gratitude Journal could help you focus on them.
Available in both paperback and spiral-bound, this product offers a 52-week guide of self-exploration, reflection, mindfulness, and gratefulness.
Pros: Useful for gratitude journaling. Includes inspirational, daily journaling prompts and quotes.
Cons: Some people may find the prompts repetitive.
7. One Line a Day Journal
Some people find daily journaling overwhelming. It's hard to know what to record in a journal entry, much less find time to write a detailed entry your day. If that's a problem, this purchase may work for you.
Basically, you get one line to record what you did each day. Obviously, that's not a lot of space, meaning it should last five years.
Pros: A great purchase for daily journaling as anyone can write a single sentence!
Cons: Less ideal if you like writing long entries.
8. Sifxxu Colour Blank Notebook
This art journal is unlike other selections above.
Each page contains watercolors and designs to inspire fresh thinking. It's pleasing to flick through and is small enough to carry around. I could imagine writing in this journal and also drawing sketches with a fountain pen.
Cons: at 96 pages, this will fill up fast.
Pros: Ideally for the visually-inclined.
What Is a Bullet Journal?
If you’ve spent any time at all researching journals, you probably ran across the term “bullet journal.” While it is a journal like many of those highlighted above, certain elements make a bullet journal stand out.
Conceived by Ryder Carrol, a bullet journal contains particular elements – such as an index, future log, collections, and more – that let you turn your ordinary journal into a daily planner of sorts.
A bullet journal is such a versatile system that you can turn virtually any blank journal into one. It’s important to note, though, that not every daily planner can perform the same functions as a bullet journal.
Not surprisingly, bullet journaling comes with its own language that you’ll want to grasp so you can make the planning system work for you as well as possible. A spread, for example, is most often referred to as two side-by-side pages.
Migration is a key element of bullet journaling and vital to keeping you moving forward. Any tasks on your to-do lists that didn’t get done can be migrated to the current daily page. This helps to keep it relevant.
Some people use a Bullet Journal to track habits for a particular period.
You can choose to track the number of books you read for the year, your social media posts, blog publication schedule, how many times you exercise each week, or if you’ve reached your journaling goal for the month as some examples.
The Best Bullet Journals for 2021
Many of the best journals for bullet journalling come with dotted paper. This makes it easier to be creative with spreads and trackers. The best bullet journals for 2021 are listed below:
9. Minimalism Dotted Grid
If you like a no-nonsense approach to bullet journaling, then the Minimalism Art, Classic is a good pick. Available in 10 colors ranging from vibrant to the classics, it features 192 dotted grid pages, a hardcover made of PU leather, and an inner pocket.
The pages are heavy and thick, so there’s no bleeding or feathering when you’re writing. There are also ruled, squared, and plain paper versions if they suit your whims better!
Pros: Inner accordion pocket, no feathering, and bleeding.
Cons: The binding could be stronger.
10. Bamboo Bullet
Bamboo is all the rage, so why not journal on it too? The Bamboo Bullet Journal features 120 sheets of thick, sturdy, high quality paper. Because each page is already numbered, you can easily create an index without having to add that extra step.
The bamboo cover is elegant and highlighted by genuine leather binding. Two ribbon bookmarks help you keep track of where you left off last.
Pros: Thicker paper than most other journals (240 pages of 160 GSM), no bleeding.
Cons: Heavy because of the bamboo cover, tight binding may make it tough to keep open (at first).
11. Bullet Dotted Journal
Choose this bullet dotted journal, and you’ll get plenty of extras that make it a perfect choice. In addition to 220 numbered acid free pages and a convenient 5 inch by 8.3-inch size, you’ll also get a gold-metal stencil/ruler that has its own pocket so it won’t get lost.
There are three-page markers, four index pages, and an expandable back pocket – all in a lay-flat design that won’t stymie your creativity.
Pros: 160 GSM thick paper, pen loop in the spine.
Cons: Suitable for micron pens, but may bleed with brush markers.
12. Moleskine Journal
I've include the every popular Moleskine as a recommendation for bullet journaling as it's a versatile and durable product. I've also turned previous purchases into a GTD journal too.
Moleskine journals come in a variety of colors and sizes. You can buy them with and without lined pages. They're also available with a hard cover or soft cover. As a regular journaler, I find the latter easier to write on.
Pros: Durable and versatile
Cons: Pricey compared to other journals.
Benefits of Journal Writing
Besides inspiring creativity, journaling can help you in a few surprising ways.
Journaling can help writers build a daily writing habit. You can also use a journal to record inspirational quotes or for self-exploration.
- Goal-setting: Journal writing helps you to be more precise about goal-setting and unlocking your talents. Lay down the steps needed to achieve your goals and set deadlines to help you stay on track. It can work as a motivational tool when you hit those inevitable slumps.
- Training your writing: It helps you train your writing through constant practise and self-reflection. In the end, your journals become a keepsake of your journey.
- Improve your mental health: Journaling regularly can help you better understand yourself and deal with inner issues.
- Boosting your memory: Journaling increases the ability to retain and understand concepts – much better than taking notes on a mobile app.
- Relief from stress: Journaling can relieve stress as it makes you slow down, and cultivates mindfulness.
How to Make Time to Journal
It may seem difficult to make time to journal or write every day.
But set aside a fixed time on at least three days of the week to write your journal. Ideas may strike at odd times – so keep a journal handy for recording those gems right away. If don't have one to hand, use a note taking app.
Time yourself so that journaling doesn’t affect other activities, and you don’t end up feeling unproductive at the end of the day.
In case you miss a day, just catch up the next day. It isn’t like submitting a manuscript or having a publishing deadline set by editors – so don’t pressure yourself.
If you want to learn more, read our how to write a journal guide.
What Is the Difference Between a Journal and a Notebook?
A journal is for writing down your ideas, whereas a notebook is more for taking notes at meetings, interviews and even for to-do lists.
A typical notebook is a fairly generic and lined affair that has a pretty fragile cover. Journals tend to be smaller with sturdy covers. Some come with an elastic closure, a place for a pen, stickers, and other fun motivators. If you’re serious about journaling, opt for a specific journal that’s dedicated only to that activity.
A journal is a flexible creation. If you want to start journaling and all you have is a notebook, don't hamper your creativity processes by insisting on both.
What Is the Difference between a Journal and a Diary?
A journal is a place to allow yourself to free-write an article, poem, or whatever comes to your mind during your journaling time. If you’ve got writers block, a journal is a good place to explore your ideas.
On the other hand, a diary is more of a place to record what happened throughout the day. It’s a way of chronicling events in your life, goals you want to attain, and other daily minutiae.
That said, some people love having a separate place for journaling and recording their daily entries. By doing this, it can help keep you on track with journaling without making you feel guilty about not writing in your diary or overwhelmed by the thought of having to do so.
Buying The Best Journal
A one-size-fits all journal for writers doesn't exist.
Choose one from the list above and get started. Add a few colored pens and some stickers to personalize it even more. It’s easy to customize most of these choices to suit your needs.
Taking the time to set up a journal, so it works well for you, though, can make the difference between journaling as a habit for life and something that falls off your radar.
If starting a bullet journal sounds like work or if you’re into a more minimalist approach, stick with a classic version or a spiral-bound journal.
A journal with prompts is also a useful tool that sparks creative thoughts if you tend to have a difficult time generating ideas for daily journal entries.
Remember, journaling consistently is more important than finding the perfect product. So pick one and dive in.
Adam Jelic of MiGoals On Using a Journal
Over the years, I've tested dozens of digital productivity tools for setting goals and managing to-do lists. Although digital tools are useful, paper-based daily planners are becoming more popular.
MiGoals is an example of an Australian company that sells these type of daily planners online.
Co-founder Adam Jelic and his team created a series of daily planners and journals to help entrepreneurs, creative professionals and executives accomplish more each day.
In this podcast episode, Jelic explains:
- How to use a daily journal
- What you can do to break a big project (like writing a book) down)
- What he's learnt about selling physical products like journals
And lots more.
If you'd like to learn more, check this article I wrote for Forbes based on my interview with Adam Jelic.
Best Journal FAQs
What is the best journal to buy?
If you're new to journaling, a Moleskine is the best one you can buy. It offers the right blend between durability and price. You can buy these lined, unlined, in hard or soft-back. A good alternative is a Leuchtturm1917 notebook, it has thicker paper than a Moleskine and is cheaper.
What should I write in my journal?
Write about your plans for the day, week or even the year. Alternatively, write about what you did recently. You can also free write or record anything that comes to mind. A journal is personal, after all. Some journals include prompts and templates to help people figure out what to say.