Your Complete Guide to Different Types of Journaling

Katie Koschalk
Katie Koschalk

Katie Koschalk is a California-based health and wellness writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and certified personal trainer, with a deep understanding of mindfulness and mind-body practices.

October 15, 2023

Journaling has long been celebrated as a tool for self-awareness, personal growth, and capturing the essence of our experiences. While its core remains consistent—a reflection of our inner narratives—the methods and styles have diversified to suit individual preferences and goals. 

Whether you’re a seasoned journal enthusiast seeking a fresh approach or a newcomer ready to dive in, this guide will share the various types of journaling available, offering you numerous pathways to enrich your personal growth journey.

Key Takeaways icon

Key Takeaways

  • At its core, journaling is the act of recording thoughts, feelings, observations, and experiences.
  • The choice between paper and digital journaling hinges on personal preference, with both offering unique benefits.
  • There are various forms of journaling, including gratitude journaling, expressive journaling, free writing, bullet journaling, dream journaling, prompted journaling, travel journaling, and idea journaling, among others.
  • Each type of journaling supports different needs and goals. For example, gratitude journaling helps with recognizing and appreciating life's positives, while expressive journaling is ideal for deeper emotional exploration.
  • Rosebud is a digital journaling platform that incorporates various journaling styles with AI-driven insights.

What Is Journaling? 

At its core, journaling is the act of recording thoughts, feelings, observations, and experiences. This can be done the traditional way with pen and paper, or through digital means, such as an app like Rosebud. 

Beyond mere documentation, journaling serves as an introspective tool, aiding in self-awareness, personal growth, and mental health. It helps individuals process emotions, analyze patterns, set goals, and track progress. In moments of turbulence, a journal can be a grounding force, and in times of happiness, a treasure trove of memories.

Learn more about the basics and benefits of journaling here. 

Paper vs. Digital Journaling 

First things first, it’s important to know that there are two main mediums through which people journal: paper and digital platforms. 

Paper journaling refers to the traditional method of writing journal entries by hand on paper. The tactile experience of physically writing provides a direct connection between thoughts and the medium. Users often choose paper journals for their tangible nature, the sensory experience of writing, and the opportunity to personalize entries with sketches, doodles, or mementos.

Digital journaling is the practice of capturing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences via electronic devices, such as smartphones, laptops, or tablets. This modern twist on journaling not only offers the perks of easy accessibility and on-the-go convenience, but also a suite of advanced features to elevate the entire experience. 

Consider Rosebud, for example— a web-based journaling app. More than just a digital space to record thoughts, Rosebud acts as a proactive partner in your personal growth journey. Using AI technology, Rosebud analyzes your entries and provides insightful feedback and actionable recommendations, helping you uncover patterns and directions that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. 

Types of Journaling for Mental Health

One of the best perks of journaling is its adaptability. While the traditional image might conjure a handwritten diary filled with daily musings, modern journaling encompasses a broad spectrum, each type catering to unique needs and aspirations.

Let’s take a look at the most common types of journaling for mental health: 

#1: Expressive Journaling 

You know those moments when you wish you had a soundproof room where you could shout out your feelings and frustrations? Enter expressive journaling. This is your arena to unleash and express your most authentic feelings in their unfiltered glory. 

While you might think expressing yourself this way would make you feel worse, research says otherwise. In fact, it can be incredibly therapeutic. A 2019 study found that writing about a past failure, especially a profoundly stressful one, influenced neural activity in the mid-cingulate cortex. This brain region plays a pivotal role in processing negative emotions[1].

What’s more, a 2018 study found that participants who wrote about “the most traumatic or upsetting experiences of their lives” reported fewer doctor visits, fewer sick days, and faster wound healing than those who didn’t[2][3].

🌹Rosebud can serve as your beacon in the expressive writing journey, offering tailored prompts, thoughtful feedback, and insightful revelations tailored just for you.

#2: Gratitude Journaling 

Gratitude journaling is an impactful practice that entails writing down the positives in your life—whether it’s a good cup of coffee, a kind gesture from a stranger, or achieving a personal milestone. This daily habit shifts your focus and serves as a reminder that amidst challenges, there’s always something good to appreciate. 

The result? Over time, you’ll likely notice an uptick in your overall mood and outlook on life. In fact, studies have highlighted a significant link between expressions of gratitude and lower levels of depression[4].

🌹Rosebud offers a guided gratitude journal that can steer you towards daily moments of appreciation, enhancing mindfulness and positivity.

Types of Journaling for Personal Growth 

Next let’s look at types of journaling that can be used to nurture your evolution and amplify self-awareness.

#1: Free Writing/Stream of Consciousness Journaling 

This unstructured style of journaling acts as a direct conduit to your mind’s inner workings. Without boundaries or set topics, this type of journaling encourages you to pour out your thoughts as they arise, resulting in raw, candid entries. You might find yourself writing about everything from a disagreement with your significant other to what you should put on your grocery list to that time Billy made fun of your outfit in elementary school. 

It’s a mental exercise that enhances creativity, clears mental clutter, and often leads to unexpected insights. By venturing into the recesses of consciousness, you can uncover latent desires, unresolved issues, and innovative ideas.

🌹Using a digital journaling tool like Rosebud can further enrich this process by extracting and highlighting insights from your writing, offering a deeper understanding and a richer perspective on your reflections.

#2: Prompted Journaling 

Prompted journaling acts as a guiding hand through the process of introspection. Instead of grappling with what to write, this method (which Rosebud uses) offers specific prompts or questions to steer your writing and reflection. It's an ideal approach for beginners or anyone who feels overwhelmed by a blank page. 

Answering a daily query, following a particular theme, or adhering to a certain format can take the pressure off and make journaling feel more like a guided conversation. It’s a structured yet flexible approach, ensuring your introspective journey has direction and depth, even on days when inspiration seems elusive.

🌹Rosebud tailors prompts specifically for you, adapting them based on your daily check-ins. This ensures a resonant and reflective journaling experience.

#3: Dream Journaling 

Dream journaling is your personal log of the nightly adventures and stories your brain conjures up while you sleep. While some dreams are completely random, others may reflect emotions, thoughts, and desires that might not surface during waking hours.

Delving into these narratives can reveal insights about personal anxieties, past experiences, and even hopes for the future, offering a richer understanding of the complex tapestry that is you.

🌹Share your dreams with Rosebud and unveil the concealed message and meanings behind them. 

#4: Travel Journaling

Travel journaling entails chronicling your adventures and discoveries while exploring new places. Whether you're navigating through bustling city streets, trekking in nature, or immersing yourself in a different culture, this type of journaling captures the essence of your experiences.

It's not just about noting the places visited—it's about the feelings evoked, the people met, and the stories unveiled. For wanderlust souls, travel journaling offers a way to relieve adventures and continue the journey, even from the comfort of home.

🌹Enhance your travel experiences with Rosebud by capturing nuances, unraveling hidden emotions, and reflecting on every adventure's profound impact.

#5: Evening Reflection Journaling 

Evening reflection journaling helps you wind down and process the day's events. As the sun sets, it provides a dedicated space to reflect, evaluate achievements, acknowledge areas for growth, and express gratitude for the day's highs and lows. Through this practice, you can gain clarity on what transpired, release any lingering stresses, and set intentions for the next day.

🌹To ensure this end-of-day reflection is as enriching as possible, Rosebud offers a guided evening intention journal, curating prompts that assist in capturing profound insights and setting a positive tone for the days ahead.

Types of Journaling for Productivity 

Looking to supercharge your efficiency and stay on top of your goals? These types of journaling may help boost productivity:

#1: Idea Journaling

Idea journaling is the practice of documenting thoughts, insights, and inspirations as they arise. Unlike traditional journaling, which may revolve around personal experiences, feelings, or daily events, idea journaling focuses primarily on capturing fleeting ideas before they vanish.

The key is to carry your idea journal with you everywhere, ensuring no idea is deemed too small to jot down. An idea journal becomes a dynamic archive of your creativity, serving both as a reflection of your evolving thought processes and a guide for future projects.

🌹Rosebud can streamline this process, providing prompts and insights that further nurture and expand upon each idea. 

#2: Morning Intention Journaling 

Morning intention journaling entails setting aside a few moments every morning to note down your goals and aspirations for the day. This daily ritual helps cultivate a proactive mindset, guiding you to tackle the day's challenges with resilience and determination.

🌹Rosebud offers a guided morning intention journal, ensuring each day begins with focus and a clear path forward.

#3: Bullet Journaling 

Bullet journaling is essentially your life’s dashboard on paper. It’s where planning meets creativity, using a mix of symbols, lists, and layouts to track tasks, events, and reflections. 

While its roots are in organization—helping you nail down daily tasks, set monthly goals, and map out long-term plans—it’s not just a cold, hard planner. Bullet journaling also carves out space for personal musings, doodles, stickers, and even mood trackers. The beauty is its flexibility—you can adapt and design it as life evolves, making it a trusty companion for personal adventures and professional milestones alike.

FAQs About Types of Journaling 

Yes, there are several different types of journaling, such as expressive journaling, free writing, gratitude journaling, bullet journaling, dream journaling, prompted journaling, travel journaling, and idea journaling, among others.

To determine which type of journaling is best for you, start by reflecting on your goals and what you hope to achieve. Are you looking for clarity, self-reflection, habit tracking, or something else? Your personal objectives will guide you toward the style that resonates most with you.

For instance, if you’re aiming to focus on the positive aspects of each day, gratitude journaling would be a good fit. Alternatively, expressive journaling might be the best choice if you’re looking to process difficult emotions.

Yes, you can absolutely use multiple types of journaling. Many individuals blend different styles to cater to varied needs. For instance, you might use bullet journaling for daily tasks and expressive journaling for in-depth reflections.

If you’re just dipping your toes into journaling, consider trying a digital journaling platform like Rosebud. It not only assists with prompts, but also provides valuable insights to enrich your journaling journey. Additionally, Rosebud incorporates various types of journaling, giving you the opportunity to explore and find the method that resonates most with you.

To switch to digital journaling, begin by selecting a digital platform or app that aligns with your goals. If you choose an AI platform like Rosebud, the technology will guide you through the onboarding process, from setting up your account to writing your first entry.

Journaling can offer many benefits, including enhanced self-awareness, emotional processing, reduced stress, improved mental clarity, goal-setting support, and enhanced creativity. Journaling may also help with managing mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It might even strengthen your immune system! Click here to learn more about the benefits of journaling.

Embrace a New Type of Self-Care 

Navigating the expansive landscape of journaling can initially feel overwhelming, given the multitude of methods available. However, the beauty of journaling lies in its flexibility and adaptability to each individual’s unique journey. 

For those keen to dive into a dynamic journaling practice with the added benefits of AI-driven insights, consider Rosebud. It’s a platform designed to blend various journaling styles, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching experience. 

Embark on your self-discovery journey and try Rosebud for free today! Remember, in the world of journaling, every entry written is a step closer to a better understanding of yourself.


  1. DiMenichi, B. C., Ceceli, A. O., Bhanji, J. P., & Tricomi, E. (2019). Effects of expressive writing on neural processing during learning. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13.
  2. Baikie, K. A., & Wilhelm, K. (2018, January 2). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing: Advances in psychiatric treatment. Cambridge Core.
  3. Koschwanez, H. E., Kerse, N., Darragh, M., Jarrett, P., Booth, R. J., & Broadbent, E. (2013a). Expressive writing and wound healing in older adults. Psychosomatic Medicine, 75(6), 581–590.
  4. Jo A, I., John M, M., & Nicola S, S. (2021). The association between gratitude and depression: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Depression and Anxiety, 4(1).

Harness AI to craft a journaling style that works best for you
Try Rosebud Journal free →