For me, writing isn't about scribbling out the next great American novel. It's about getting all the thoughts and ideas out of my head and onto paper. If something creative comes from all the nonsense, then that's a bonus.
I was never much of a journal keeper until a couple of years ago. I took it on as a challenge for myself. Somewhere to just get random stuff out of my head. Looking back I wish I'd developed this habit years ago, but hindsight is always 20/20.
The type of journal I keep could be referred to as a "commonplace book" or a "brain dump book" or even an "everything book." I'm not a "dear diary" kind of person, those kinds of restrictions make me hyperventilate and cause writer's block. I also keep different journals for different things.
My daily journal is a Midori Traveler's Notebook. I write anything in here daily including quotes, the weather, pictures I took, what we did (especially if we're on vacation), something I found interesting and even personal revolutions on things. In the past, I've tracked my weight, activity and hours of daylight. You get the picture - this is my anything goes book. The journal where I put random thoughts.
Beyond that, there are a few other notebooks, all of which are composition notebooks. I love comp books, versatile and easy to embellish the covers if desired. I have one for "morning pages" where I clear my brain of all the stuff that seems to be on repeat in my brain. The stuff you wish you said. The stuff you need to do but hate doing. The things that made you mad or stressed you out at work. This is just a purge book, a book I rarely go back through.
Next on the comp book list is the one that holds all my free verse writing. Creative writing needs its own space. Sometimes it's just a line, sometimes a paragraph and often a complete poem.
The third is a second commonplace book. I use this book for things I want to do more than jot a few notes about. Things I'd like to research, kick around more and sort out. Like when I decided to start writing this blog. There's a list of notes and ideas, even options for blog names. This book gives me more space to scratch it all out.
As if these aren't enough journals, there's one more in the stack for reading notes. As a general rule, I read mostly non-fiction, which leads to note taking. Lots of note taking. Quotes, ideas of notes, little bits of knowledge I want to return to. This also helps me write book reviews for the blog.
Do you write? Should you write? Does the thought give you hives? Do you wish you could or had the courage? What keeps you from scribbling in a journal?
Often when I ask these questions of friends they say something like "It'd be a bad idea to write down my thoughts," or "I don't want all my crazy out there for everyone to read." I think this often comes from the preconceived idea that a journal needs to be a "dear diary" style and that you have to write all your secrets in a book with a lock and key. While I don't doubt that those kinds of journals exist, I don't think they're as common as many people think. I think commonplace books are much more common in the world of journalers.