Need some inspiration for your empty notebook? Here are 35 different ways to fill it!
There's nothing like that feeling you get when you purchase a brand new notebook. You imagine yourself writing all of your great ideas in it. Then you bring it home, place it on your desk or shelf, and it just sits there looking pretty, collecting dust.
I know, I've been there...I have a personal collection of barely filled notebooks in my room. If you just can't seem to get started with your own blank notebook, even with all of your good intentions, I've got you covered. In this blog post, I'll go over 35 creative notebook ideas so you won't be stumped the next time you open up an empty one.
If there’s one thing that creative types do, it’s writing. We fill up our notebooks with anything from facts and ideas to words and pictures. To me, the most important part of having a notebook is the ability to spread out and let my imagination soar. And the sources of inspiration are infinite!
What our notebooks can do for us is store our ideas, dreams, and anything else we come up with. They hold information about everything from the days that we’ve completed to the things that we want to do in the future. And they’re more than just our keepers of ideas; they’re also locations for us to get motivated.
Before you get started, make sure you have something durable. I like the Greenroom spiral-bound notebooks that Target sells because they're beautiful and environmentally friendly. As far as a writing utensil, anything will do. I personally like writing with black ink and coloring into spaces with my multi-colored pen.
How to get started with a blank notebook.
What happens when you're ready to write and your head goes blank? This phenomenon is called writer's block and it happens even to the best of writers.
Creative writing can be intimidating and many people can relate to the feeling of being relentlessly self-critical coupled with paralyzing fear & anxiety.
Why it's so hard to get started with writing.
One of the reasons why it can be difficult to get started with writing is fear. I remember all those papers I had to write when I was in school and then having them graded by the teacher.
I always feared getting my paper back from the teacher with red marks all over it, highlighting all of my mistakes. Because of this, I didn't enjoy writing for a long time. Not only that, it made my confidence in my writing skills plummet.
It wasn't until I started blogging that I began to enjoy writing.
Another reason why it's hard to get started writing is not having enough time. Studies have shown that the perceived lack of time is a barrier to writing. While others show that it's not the lack of time that impedes but the attitudes, habits, and other external factors that can lead to writer's block.
For many of us, procrastination is the reason why we can't get started with writing, which is also combined with lack of time and fear.
Tips to overcome anxiety around writing.
1. Be patient.
Not every idea comes to you immediately. It can take days of planning, perseverance, and motivation to get started on an idea that will ultimately become something that you want to write about.
It isn't accomplished by tossing ideas into a hat, hoping something sticks, or hopping from project to project in search of inspiration. The key is to be still and slow down so ideas will flow to you easier.
2. Write regularly.
One of the best things you can do for your writing is to set aside time for it. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be specific to writing in your journal. Make time for writing in a notebook or on any device that will let you jot down ideas without staring at the computer screen.
When you adopt a working schedule, your brain will become accustomed to it and your writing will become more prolific. For example, write first thing in the morning and first thing before you go to bed each day. This will not only help you develop consistency, but your writing will also improve.
3. Change your mindset.
Having the right mindset will help you overcome anxiety around writing. Writing calmly and perceiving writing as a relaxing exercise can help to lessen the feeling of uncertainty and pain. Try not to be critical of yourself or judge your writing because it will only exacerbate any unpleasant emotions that may arise from it.
4. Make it feel fun.
When you make writing fun, it increases the level of motivation you have to keep going, because your brain registers that it’s a win even if it was challenging.
One reason for this is that when you make something fun, even when it isn’t easy (like writing in a journal), it gives you a good feeling and lets you know that it will all work out.
5. Be open to criticism.
You need to be open to criticism from others if you want to turn writing into a comfortable and enjoyable activity. One way to improve your writing is to welcome feedback from others.
Learning to receive the viewpoints of others on your writing is really beneficial. You’ll be able to change your approach to writing as well as identify problems, improve your ideas, and improve your writing overall.
6. Work efficiently.
There is a benefit to being able to write and work efficiently. Just as you need enough sleep to get a good night’s rest, you also need the right kind of environment to make writing a pleasurable and fruitful experience.
When writing, find a quiet spot if possible to minimize distractions. Writing is a creative activity that requires concentration and energy, so take small bites at times and give yourself regular breaks to refocus and refresh.
7. Write for short periods.
There are benefits to writing in shorter stretches of time. It’s easier to sustain a flow for shorter than longer periods of time. Staying motivated is also easier when you don't feel constrained by time.
By writing in short bursts throughout the day, you’ll stay more motivated and focused, and it’ll be easier to get your thoughts out. Breaking up your writing sessions will help maintain motivation and promote productivity
Aim for a goal you can achieve, such as writing for twenty or even just ten minutes a day. You avoid becoming frustrated and losing your motivation.
8. Write with a group.
Working with a group of writers offers many useful advantages, including an increased sense of belonging and collaboration. When you work in a small group, you will form an environment that is conducive to writing through sharing of knowledge and expertise.
What's more, writing in a group provides accountability, something you can't get when you write all by yourself.
9. Just start writing.
Sometimes, all the writing tricks and tips in the world can't get you motivated enough to write. You need to just start writing if you want it to be comfortable and enjoyable.
Writing can be a messy, accidental process; there will be times when you run out of ideas and times when you don't feel like you're in the right mental space.
There’s no shortcut for this. Don’t worry about details initially, just get your thoughts out there. Write whatever comes to mind until you can't do it anymore. Then take a break or continue the next time you're scheduled to write to clear your mind and allow new and fresh ideas to percolate.
35 creative notebook ideas to inspire you.
Now that you know why it's important to write and tips to overcome anxiety around writing, here are 35 ways to help you fill up your empty notebook!
1. Diary or journal.
A classic diary or journal is a simple way to create a logbook of your life. Each entry is a little gem – an anecdote, a thought, an observation. As you continue to write down your thoughts, you might discover new ways to improve yourself as a person.
Maybe you'd like to write about something that happened to you – an incident that left you feeling sad or grateful, or perhaps excited about something that's now come true.
2. Mind mapping.
A great way to get started with your empty notebook is to mind map. A mind map is both a visual aid and a writing tool that helps you keep track of ideas and thoughts by linking a central/main idea with other related ideas.
Creating a mind map can help you remember key points. It also helps you see connections between things and allows you to see patterns in the execution of ideas.
3. Brain dump.
The great thing about "brain dumping" is that it's unstructured. There's no right or wrong way to do it because you're writing whatever comes to your brain and onto your paper or keyboard. You keep writing until you can't anymore. The point of this is to help declutter your mind or defog your brain.
When in doubt, doodle. Notebooks are not just for writing, you know. It might seem silly to start doodling in a notebook because all it really is, is scribbling. But it’s actually a really effective way of getting inspired.
Another great thing about doodling is the benefits. According to a Harvard Health Publishing article, doodling:
- improves memory
- relieves stress
- improves focus
Doodling improves your ability to solve problems and create things; that's why it’s a great way to fill your blank notebook.
5. Dream tracking.
Dream Journaling can be a transformative way to improve your spiritual relationship with yourself, the world, and the divine. Dream Journals are a great way to tap into what is deep inside and can be an effective way to develop new spiritual insights and personal growth.
They can be used as an effective tool for discovering who you are by tapping into your subconscious mind and personal desires.
Everyone has memories that they never want to forget. Capture those special moments by creating a notebook or journal that you can look back on any time you want.
You can record the most memorable moments in the lives of your friends, family, and loved ones. It’s a way to record all of those special memories from birthdays, graduations, holidays, and vacations.
7. Gratitude journal.
A gratitude journal is one of the best ways to increase happiness and joy in your life. By writing down what you’re grateful for on a regular basis, it becomes easier to be aware of all the things you already have and appreciate them.
Research has shown that creating a gratitude journal may help improve your overall well-being. You can start by writing down just one thing you're grateful for each day and observe any changes in your mood or thoughts.
8. Make a notebook of lists.
Creating a list will help you remember things. They're great for helping you remember important dates, key events in your life, and even reminders for yourself of important deadlines.
They're great for jotting down practical tips and tricks - such as how many paces you cover in a 10k runs. You can create a list in your notebook for practically anything that you do on a regular basis.
9. Aha moments.
Have you ever thought to yourself, man, if only I wrote that down? Well, notebooks are great for when you have your "aha"moments. These are light bulb moments that come to you even when you least expect it. The next time inspiration hits, you'll have your notebook to fill them with.
One of the best ways to use your notebook is to write down your goals in it. Goals help you stay focused on what you want to accomplish. You can use your notebook to keep track of your goals and either continue forward or eliminate the ones that are not working for you.
11. Freestyle writing.
Freestyle writing is a great way to fill your notebook. It's unstructured in the sense that you don't have to follow explicit rules, you just write what's on your mind.
For this reason, freestyle writing is an excellent outlet for newbies or anyone that lacks the training or tools. You can write whatever comes naturallly to your mind and then look back at it later for inspiration, or just the simple pleasure of reading it.
One great way to fill your blank notebook is to write down quotes. Quotes can come from you, the internet, your family member, an author, an influencer, or just about anyone who can inspire you with their words.
Quotes are a great way to stay motivated. They remind us of what we want and they help us see the big picture. They also help us remember that we're not alone.
Do you write poems, or have a love for them? You can use your empty notebook for poetry. Poems are beautiful expressions and can be great sources of inspiration.
Poems can be rich sources of scattered thoughts and feelings, they can be strict and follow rules, or they can be just one-liners with huge impact.
13. Tracking habits.
Use your blank notebook for tracking your habits. Habit tracking helps with anything you want to improve in your life. When you keep track of your habits in a notebook, you'll be able to see your progress, no matter how small it is.
14. Travel journal.
A travel journal is a great way to store your memories from the places you've been. Take colorful notes on places you've been, things you've looked at, and conversations you've had. When you get home, look at the words on the page and reminisce about the great time you had while traveling.
Remember that notebook you used to write science projects? You can use your notebook for research ideas and projects, too. A blank notebook can be useful for brainstorming, asking questions, or reflecting on the topic you're researching.
Have you ever used a notebook for appointments? It is a great way to save time and remember important information. Keeping appointments in a notebook vs. a smartphone will help you see all of them at a glance instead of scrolling through a small screen.
17. Love letters.
When you’re in love, there is nothing like putting pen to paper and sharing your thoughts and feelings. There’s also nothing like taking notes in a journal as you navigate the wonderful world of love.
Writing down your feelings allows you to remember them easily and enables you to express them freely. You can share them with the one you love or you can just keep it for yourself.
How often do we get the chance to use our notebook for something other than pure observation? A great way to use a notebook is to gather ideas for recipes like for meal planning.
It can be difficult to remember which recipes fit into your daily diet, or what needs to be done each week. So use your notebook to keep track of what you buy and when.
Scrapbooks are a great way to use your notebooks. They keep mementos of important events in your life. You cut and paste notes, pictures, etc., and stick them into your scrapbook.
20. Photo journal.
Do you love taking pictures but hate the idea of them sitting in your phone? A photo journal is a great idea for someone like you. You can use your empty notebook to fill them with your beautiful photos so you can enjoy them rather than forget that you took them in the first place.
Keeping track of all your expenses in your head is hard. This is where your empty notebook will come in handy. Keeping track of your expenses will give you more control over your finances and help prevent you from breaking your budget.
22. Random thoughts.
Ever have a random thought pop into your head and then regretted not writing it down later? Use your notebook to organize your random thoughts because you never know when you can use them later down the road.
Your empty notebook is a great place for storing all of your favorites. Your favorite books, music, movies, artists, clothing designers, etc. There are so many places you can access your favorites nowadays that only a notebook can keep track of all the information that is out there.
24. Tracking your health.
When you need to improve your health by changing your behaviors and habits, you can use your blank notebook to help you keep track. You can make a list of the stuff you need to get rid of in your pantry or refrigerator.
Then track what you're eating, what you're drinking, and what times of the day you're doing it. This is important to keep you accountable, a way to have something "watch over your shoulder" so you can be successful with your health and wellbeing.
25. Learning a new language.
Learning a new language can be tough. There are so many rules that you need to adhere to that it can be confusing to keep track of all the new words.
A notebook not only helps you learn a new language and remember the words, writing them down helps to reinforce it in your brain.
26. Remembering passwords and user names.
If you're like me, you probably have a million passwords and usernames. It's hard to remember them all, so I like to use a notebook to keep track of them all.
You can use your empty notebook to organize and keep track of all your user names, passwords, and any other sensitive information. Just remember to keep it in a safe place.
27. Bullet journaling.
You can use any empty notebook to create a bullet journal. They're great for keeping track of just about anything. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. You don't even need those boxes or lines to start one. Any blank notebook will do.
28. Writing short stories.
If you're a writer, then a notebook is a great way to jot down your short stories. You can keep your ideas in your notebook or you can use it to write your short stories and transfer them later. Or you can just keep them for yourself for your own reading enjoyment.
I'm not a big planner, but I have to use one to keep my life together. An empty notebook is a great way to organize your life because there's only so much that you can hold and process in your head.
You can use it to keep track of important dates, holidays, appointments, events, or daily to-do lists.
Like a planner, you need place to organize all of your daily, weekly, and monthly stuff. But, an empty notebook can be used to remind you of your daily tasks. It gives you a quick reference for what needs to get done for the day so you're not scrambling around looking for where you wrote your reminder.
31. Smash book.
Remember smash books as a kid? It was like a scrapbook but with bits of information about your friends and besties. If you're into this kind of thing, then your blank notebook is the perfect place to start your smash book.
32. Bucket list.
I used to think bucket lists were kind of morbid but if you look at it as a to-do list for your life, then it can be an enjoyable way to use it to keep track of your life goals.
Use your notebook to write out a bucket list, at least 100 things, and cross out them out as you finish each one. Not only does it feel satisfactory, you feel like you're fulfilling your life's mission and purpose.
33. Vision boards.
Vision boards are great inspirational tools and they don't have to be actual boards. They can be placed inside of a notebook. Cut out any inspirational words, images, or quotes and paste them into your "vision board." Then look at it regularly for inspiration. Then update it every year. You can keep the most recent, updated one open so you can attract what you want to manifest in your life.
Fill your notebook with positive affirmations and use them on regular basis to lift you up or to prepare you when you are facing something challenging.
Your empty notebook is not just for keeping track of lists, goals, and habits. You can use it to help lift up your spirit or keep track of the things that give you meaning or guidance.
"Always carry a notebook. And I mean always." - Will Self
Coming up with notebook ideas can be hard because you might have anxiety about writing in the first place. One way to overcome this anxiety is to change your mindset about writing and be open to criticism. The more you practice, the better you'll get.
So the next time you crack open an empty notebook, you'll have more confidence in yourself to keep track of your thoughts, make plans, store your passwords, or write those great ideas that have been stuck in your head.
I hope you found these empty notebook ideas inspiring. What do you write in your notebook? Please let me know in the comments.