5 ways to put your old journals to good use

Image: Instagram/@rachie_gee

Between back-to-school shopping trips and impulse buys at Barnes & Noble, it's easy to end up with more notebooks than you know what to do with. We've talked before about bullet journals and crush diaries, which you should totally try. But there are other ideas for your old notebooks and journals that can be just as fun, even if they never went viral. Break out your pencils (or your sparkly gel pens) and get ready to recreate one of our fave journals from around the web.

A back-and-forth journal


Writing letters might be a thing of yesteryear, but in the age of social distancing, we can see it making a comeback. This letter-inspired journal will let you catch up with a bestie, bae, or relative, all through the mail. All you have to do is find a blank notebook, write a letter, poem, or thank-you note, and ship it to the intended recipient. Let them know to write their response on the next available page and ship it back. You get to see all of your old letters after they've been sent, and you'll soon have a collection of your exchanges that you can look back on. 

A recipe log


In my sophomore year of high school, my poetry teacher assigned a poem about soup, culture, and family. It got the class talking about recipes and how they're often passed down from older family members, leading our teacher to lament that he never wrote down the recipes from one of his relatives who had passed away. His family had always loved her cooking, but they never thought to record the recipes until it was too late.

Maybe your grandma makes the world's best chicken noodle soup, or your uncle knows how to make a traditional cookie you can't find in grocery stores. A recipe log is a perfect excuse to call them up and gather these recipes. Bonus points if you can get pictures. After all, you don't want to lose the recipes—or the memories they bring of your loved ones. When the log is full, make photocopies and distribute them to family members. They're sure to be thankful.

A mood tracker


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Sometimes the bad days seem to outnumber the good ones, especially during a tumultuous year like 2020. A mood tracker helps you keep an eye on your day-to-day emotions. When you look back, you can reflect on what caused you to be in a funk, or be proud of how many good days you had. It helps to put the year in perspective, and it encourages you to put in the extra effort to have a good day. Even if your journal tracker has blocks of bad days marked, you can use that as an indication that you need to make a change in your life. Sketch a grid like the one above, or find a big journal and devote one page to two or three days' emotions.

A (micro) writing journal


Using blank notebooks for creative writing or journaling is a no-brainer. But so often, plans to write every day—or even every week—fall through in the midst of school, plans with friends and new shows on Netflix. The micro writing journal is an easy way to stay committed without getting overwhelmed. The premise? Write one sentence a day. Maybe it will build into a short story. Or perhaps you simply summarize each day in one line. Whatever you choose to write about, your sentences will add up to something meaningful. You might even find yourself inspired to write a little extra every now and then.

A response diary


Thanks to the Internet, Gen Z is considered one of the most informed generations, though it can be tough to keep up with the news cycle. One way to stay informed is to start a response diary. Each day (or week, or month), choose a current event and read a few news articles about it. It could be a new law passed, or something more local like a restaurant closing. When you're finished, write a response of any length about the event. How does it make you feel? What does it mean for you and your community?

Don't get discouraged if you think you have nothing to say. Many history books rely on first-hand accounts and reactions to piece together the impact of important events. Plus, you get to increase your knowledge of the world around you. It doesn't have to be homework. Choose to read about something you're genuinely interested in, and don't shy away from being critical or humorous in your responses.

Try any of the journals above? Let us know on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @girlslifemag!

Slider Image: Instagram/@rachie_gee


by Bailey Bujnosek | 9/14/2020