Journal to the Self: 13 Tools to Make Journaling Work for You

Journal to the Self - Mind Map

In this post, I present 13 specific journaling tools you can start using immediately, along with a mind map of the book ‘Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth‘.

Journaling is perhaps the most effective and direct way to get a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you. By putting your thoughts in writing, you trigger some unique mental processes that often lead to invaluable new insights.

In the book Journal to the Self, Kathleen Adams presents many tools that make the process of journaling much easier and enjoyable, presenting plenty of choices to make journaling work for you.

Regardless of your writing style (or even if you see yourself as someone who doesn’t enjoy writing at all), you’ll find tips to make your self-discovery journey more effective and enjoyable.

Journaling Tools

The Journaling Toolbox is the meat of Journal to the Self. It’s a set of 13 specific tools you can use to spice up that old-fashioned journal of yours or start a brand new one. Here they are, in a nutshell:

  1. Springboards: These are ready-made phrases that answer the question "What should I write about?". They can be questions, statements, quotations — anything that helps you to get started.
  2. Character Sketch: Describe another person (or yourself) from the other person’s point of view. Great to use when you’re in conflict with someone or want to know or others (or yourself) in a more intimate way.
  3. Clustering: This is journaling in mind map format. This debunks the myth that a journal needs to be a long and verbose piece. You journal can be made of mind maps, drawings or just doodles if you like!
  4. Captured Moments: "The Captured Moments journal technique allows you to celebrate and savor, preserving in prose the glory and anguish, the serenity and sorrow, the pleasure and pain of your life" […]. A great candidate to be sent in a time capsule to the future.
  5. Dialogue: Due to its flexibility, this is called the Swiss army knife of the journal toolbox. Contrary to what you may think, a journal doesn’t need to be a boring monologue. Also, writing in true conversational style unlocks many different and interesting thoughts.
  6. Lists: This is where the great List of 100 technique came from. This is the most amazing problem solving technique I know. If you haven’t used it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out now.
  7. Stream of Consciousness: Very intuitive in nature, this is also called ‘meditative writing’. Here you just let yourself be guided by your subconscious. You will be surprised where you may end up. You may use aids like visual imagery as well, such as in a mental sanctuary.
  8. Steppingstones: This is about listing the main milestones of your life — those moments when you said to yourself "My life will never be the same again from now on". Explore your steppingstones’ many different aspects, either positive or negative.
  9. Time Capsule: Slightly different than the Time Capsule I am used to, this tool focuses on regularly writing and combining time-sensitive journals to help you pinpoint your own cycles, patterns and rhythms.
  10. Topics Du Jour: Each day of the month, focus on a different, pre-defined aspect of your life and quickly journal about that. An amazing personal development tool to monitor each area of your life. I’ve written about it in more extensively here.
  11. Unsent Letters: Great for expressing deep emotion, such as anger or grief. Communicate your opinions, hostilities, resentments, affections or controversial points of view in a safe, nonthreatening atmosphere.
  12. Perspectives: Allow you to explore the roads not taken in your life. Step into the future or the past and glimpse the world as it might have been for you or other people.
  13. Dreams and Imagery: Dreams can provide great insight into your life, and this technique makes sure you pay attention to them and put them to good use.

Note: Although the subtitle of the book is ‘Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth’, there are only thirteen tools that I could count. There are twenty-two chapters, yes, but I found the title needlessly misleading for that reason.

Now to the Full Book

When it comes to book summaries, mind mapping is usually my preferred choice, and this time it’s no different. Enjoy.

Journal to the Self Book

Get the mind map for Journal to the Self: