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18 Journals That Will Give Your Brain A Workout

Get ready to ~explore your mind.~

1. Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel

amberweinberg / instagram.com

Meera Lee Patel's journal for self-exploration is a work of art on its own, filled with lushly illustrated prompts and advice, and plenty of room for you to discover and create your own beautiful revelations.

2. 642 Tiny Things To Write About by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto

Chronicle Books
Chronicle Books

These prompts come from the creative minds of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, and while the group has put out a few different kinds of these journals, this one is especially good if you're looking for a quick way to jump-start your mind and get inspired.

3. One Zentangle a Day by Beckah Krahula

Quarry
nsmhardy88 / instagram.com

One Zentangle a Day is almost like a class in a book, offering thorough background on the meditative artform of drawing structured patterns. The book itself doesn't have space to create the zentangles, though, so you'll have to pick up a sketchbook or the tiles Krahula recommends.

4. Doodling For Cat People by Gemma Correll

Walter Foster
strawberrypeanutjelly / instagram.com

Artist Gemma Correll's insanely adorable Doodling For... series (she's got a lot of people covered— cat people, dog people, fashionistas, bookworms) is full of cute doodle prompts, creative exercises, and illustrated buddies you'll just want to squeeze.

5. How To Be Happy (Or At Least Less Sad) by Lee Crutchley

Crutchley's workbook is targeted at people with anxiety or depression, but its creative prompts and unexpected daily challenges are great for lifting anyone's spirits.

6. Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith

Perigee Trade

Smith's journal is about destruction, asking readers to poke through pages, submerge them, attach photos and then deface them, and essentially revel in our "mistakes." The finished product — crumpled pages and sometimes doubled in size — is itself a masterpiece.

7. 1 Page at a Time by Adam J. Kurtz

Perigee Books
Adam J. Kurtz / instagram.com

This book, by Adam J. Kurtz (formerly at BuzzFeed!) is something between calendar and scrapbook, filled with 365 pages of prompts and activities that are perfectly silly, thought-provoking, and uplifting.

8. Take a Line for a Walk by Robin Landa (and friends)

Cengage Learning
mixed_berry / instagram.com

Designer and professor Robin Landa gathered up prompts from some of the industry's best architects, artists, and designers, and collected them in this minimalist spiral-bound journal— which is just waiting for you to draw all over its mostly blank pages.

9. The Happy Book: A Journal to Celebrate What Makes You Happy by Rachel Kempster and Meg Leder

louise_gaul / instagram.com

The Happy Book is dedicated entirely to things that bring you joy, so it's doubly purposeful: by bringing you happiness when you fill it out, and again whenever you feel like revisiting it.

10. Listography: Your Life in Lists by Lisa Nola

Chronice Books
lilykerbey / instagram.com

The Listography series is made up of a lot of great, theme-specific journals (movies, music, books, etc.) but the first one is wonderful in its broadness. If you're crazy about organizing your life, and love nothing more than crossing an item off a to-do list, it's perfect for you.

11. Make It Happen! by Kari Chapin

Chronicle Books
Chronicle Books

Chapin's book is a thorough productivity and time-management tool, excellent for tracking and analyzing progress, and for encouraging ways to improve it.

12. 365: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life by Noah Scalin

Voyageur Press
melissajoan6 / instagram.com

Noah Scalin's "Project 365" encourages readers to choose a theme (whether in subject or medium) and then make something in line with it every day, for a year. (Scalin himself painted a skull a day.) The book has space for journaling or sketching, prompts, and instructions on new creative skills like paper folding and sculpting.

13. 40 Days and 40 Nights: Taking Time Out for Self-Discovery by Ilene Segalove

Andrews McMeel Publishing
Andrews McMeel Publishing

If the idea of journaling for a year seems daunting, you can give Ilene Segalove's book a shot, which promises self-discovery in a more manageable 40 days. The journal offers insight into Segalove's own spiritual journey, helps the reader state her intention, and then guides her through the different stages of realizing it.

14. Start Now!: The Creativity Journal by Kate Neckel

Chronicle Books
Chronicle Books

Artist Kate Neckel's journal is perfect if you're looking for something with minimal author intervention: Most pages are open for you to fill them, decorated by Kate's own doodles, thoughts, encouragements— with the occasional prompt thrown in.

15. Improvisation For the Spirit by Katie Goodman

Sourcebooks
Sourcebooks

Writer and comedian Katie Goodman pulls from her improv background for a book that's equal parts creativity journal, self-discovery tool, and comedy guide.

16. Picture of Me: Who I Am in 221 Questions by Kate Marshall and David Marshall

Harmony
Harmony

Picture of Me is just that: a snapshot in words (and some doodles) of who you are, at one moment in time. The questions are entertaining, creative, and sometimes probing— great for anyone looking to sit back and do some soul-searching.

17. All About Us by Philipp Keel

Penguin Random House
maudyrmv / instagram.com

Swiss artist and writer Philipp Keel has a collection of All About... journals, and his diary for couples will bring out answers — about daily life, sex, the past, each other's dreams — that you might not even realize you didn't know.

18. Write Here, Write Now by Naomi Davis Lee and Nicole LaRue

Chronicle Books
Chronicle Books

Lee and LaRue's journal is designed with teens in mind — filled with imaginative prompts, quirky illustrations, and questions for self-discovery — but anyone who's young at heart can get some fun out of it.

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