Book Review: 365 Journal Writing Ideas

365 JOURNAL WRITING IDEASIt is true. My review of Rossi Fox’s 365 Journal Writing Ideas is not without its problems. The truth is that I am working on a similar project for Owl and Zebra Press, titled The Beginner’s Journal. I’m sure that project and this particular journal will have plenty of overlap, but only because we have a similar aim and many things about both products are intuitive.

I bought 365 Journal Writing Ideas because The Beginner’s Journal was not finished but I needed something for home school. My son is as reluctant a writer as he is a reader, so I try to keep some of his writing time light by requiring a daily journal entry.  Since we are full-on home school this year, I thought it would be nice to have a journal prompt handy for each day, and then just open up his blank book and instruct him (again!) that I want to see three full sentences before he doodles.

Looking online (which is where I did most of my curriculum research) I came across this lesser-known, self-published journal prompt book. It looked like just what I needed.

And it exceeded my expectations.

Let’s set one thing straight. This is not a place to actually journal. It is a journal companion. So you still need something–like anything from a spiral-bound notebook to a leather-bound, hand-pressed paper sketch pad–to actually journal. This book, however,will get you where you need to be when staring at the blank page that you just paid good money for.

It’s also not meant for writers, as many prompt books are. Only rarely will it say something like, “Finish this idea with a short story.” It’s mostly more what journals are supposed to be like: introspective. About you. A little random. A little creative.

And it is not going to record your life, like an old planner. You won’t look back on day 200 some year in the future and go, “Oh! It was sunny that day. And John and I left for Slovenia! And look, they had the audacity to serve fish on the flight!” Unless you make it a point to record those sorts of things each day yourself, you are mostly going to have entries with more general introspection. My dream was to be a trapeze artist?!?

But let’s move on from what it isn’t, because this journal prompt book packs a lot in and has a lot to offer.

First of all, it is flexible, which means you can use it several different ways, which also means you could use it for two or three times 365 days. (365 will almost definitely play out to more than one year for you. Not many people are disciplined enough to journal every single day, come rain or shine, ER visits, flus, or snow days, let alone general laziness.) The book is broken into sections, which are:

  • Tips and tricks
  • Encouraging quotes (throughout the book)
  • 365 writing prompts (the meat of the thing)
  • 52 weekly actions
  • 400 thought-provoking quotes
  • Create-your-own prompts section
  • A year-long photography challenge

If you are feeling especially intense this year, you could do a prompt per day, along with an action per week and a photo challenge per week (printing them out and taping them in as you go). You’ll need to set aside some real time, though, because some of these prompts require more brain-power and/or creativity than others, and the same could be said for the actions. If you have a gaggle of small children or are in a physician residency or have a job on Wall Street, you might want to stick with an audio journal or maybe something like Wreck This Journal (because you just can’t go wrong with the release destroying a journal can provide).

The book is neat and tidy, straight-forward, friendly, professional-looking… there’s nothing bad to say about it.

Obviously, I think this is a great tool for exactly what it advertises. You want to journal this year but you’re not sure where to start each day? Or are you an old hand at journaling but you want an outside prompt this year? Well, until The Beginner’s Journal publishes ( 😊 ), this is a great place to start.

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