Get Journaling! 15 of the Best Journaling Books by Lynda Monk and Emma-Louise

15 Best Journaling Books on Gradient Background

15 Great Books about Journaling for You to Try!

In this article journaling expert Lynda Monk and passionate journaler Emma-Louise recommend their 15 favourite journaling books. We have reviewed and organized the 15 journaling books into 5 sections to make it easier.

In this article we cover:

Introduction: Why a Journaling Books Article?

How Lynda & Emma Journal

The 15 Best Journaling Books to Get Started Journaling - and More!

Lynda & Emma-Louise's Top 3 Journaling Books!

    1. The New Diary: How to Use a Journal for Self-Guidance and Expanded Creativity
    2. The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself
    3. The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

3 Classic Journaling Books

    1. Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth
    2. One to One: Self-Understanding Through Journal Writing
    3. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

3 Journaling Books for Coaches (learn how to use journaling in your practice)!

    1. Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients: A Complete Guide
    2. Therapeutic Journal Writing: An Introduction for Professionals (Therapy or Personal Development)
    3. The Healing Power of Writing: A Therapist's Guide to Using Journaling With Clients

3 Journaling for Mental Health & Wellness Books

    1. Expressive Writing: Words that Heal
    2. With Pen in Hand: The Healing Power of Writing
    3. Journaling for Joy - The Workbook: Writing Your Way to Personal Growth and Freedom

3 Books for Journaling in Groups and Community

    1. Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection
    2. Writing Alone, Writing Together: A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups
    3. Writing Alone and with Others

Coming soon... & Wrap-up

Jump straight to the list of journaling books here >>

Intro: Why a Journaling Books Article?

Both Lynda and Emma-Louise are keen journalers and journaling is an important part of their lives. Both of them are coaches, entrepreneurs and women on a mission to make a difference in their lives and work.

Creating and expressing ourselves with words is one of our shared passions and life practices.

There are many tools out in the world to support personal growth, wellness and success. For Emma-Louise and Lynda, journaling is a 'go-to' favourite life enriching practice. Journal writing is an anchoring tool that helps them both live true to themselves and stay grounded as they navigate the many decisions and whole-hearted efforts required in many areas of their lives.

There are as many books on journaling as there are ways to journal - and then some. In this article, Lynda and Emma-Louise got together to discuss and agree their favourite books on journaling!

Plus, did you know Lynda and Emma have published books on the topic of journaling? Keep reading to learn more!

Important thought: whilst we link to Amazon below, and Amazon is a convenient way to learn more about—and purchase—a book, many local bookstores are struggling to stay afloat. If you can, why not order your book from your local bookstore, both boosting your local economy and supporting a fellow small business owner?

How we Journal

There are many different ways to journal. Some people enjoy free writing, others prefer to write with the help of journaling prompts and writing activities.

Two Journals - Lyndas first and current journal

Lynda's very first—and current—journal!

Lynda: I started journaling when I was a young girl. I journaled off and on through my teens. Now, at the age of 51, I have been journaling, some part of the past 40 years. I use journaling in many ways and for a lot of different reasons. I journal to gain clarity, make decisions, reflect on my life, process emotions, capture moments, and make meaning out of my experiences. I use journaling for self-care, stress management and to cultivate joy in my life. I have used journaling for self-care and burnout prevention as a helping professional. I love journaling! I have read hundreds of books, as well as various research, on journaling, writing, and creativity over the years. The following list is by no means a complete of my favourite journaling books! But it certainly shares some that have stayed with me and made a difference to my own journaling and coaching work.

Emma-Louise: I started journaling in 2006. I wanted to get to know myself and to heal. I wanted to have a place to explore my feelings, ideas and occasionally vent. I draw, write essays and poetry, have conversations with my critic and use my journal to clear my head so I can sleep. Sometimes I'll write a to-do list or make an action plan, and other times I'll ponder my goals for the month, year - or even what I want the rest of my life to be about. I use my journal in a myriad of ways and love it! Lastly, I'll use my journal to record, reflect on and explore any life events, dreams or dream snippets that seem significant!

Here are 15 of the Best Journaling Books

Lynda & Emma-Louise's Top 3 Journaling Books!

1) The New Diary: How to Use a Journal for Self-Guidance and Expanded Creativity

Author: Tristine Rainer

This book is possibly "the classic" in the journaling field—and even has a foreword by Anais Nin! Originally written in 1978, it was updated in 2004 and again for a 2020 Kindle Edition. Never out of print, this book offers a liberating look at diary writing. As Rainer herself says, it's free of conventional writing rules and she advocates that "everything and anything goes".

Who this book is for: Anyone and everyone. Great for the beginner journaler wondering how to get started and looking for advice and encouragement. Also great for seasoned journalers looking for ideas and a deeper understanding of the possibilities of journaling.

  • Why Emma-Louise loves it: For me, this is the original instruction book on modern day journaling. With lots of examples and encouragement Tristine takes us through everything a diary can be. She shares pitfalls as well as helpful tools and techniques. It is both a "how to" guide and an inspiring read on "why to journal" too!
  • Why Lynda loves it: I love this book for it's claim that as we write in our own unique way, we free our intuition, and we are able to rediscover and re-create ourselves. Rainer encourages us to be willing to experiment and play in our writing and to take imaginative risks: "Flow, spontaneity and intuition are the key words in this book."

2) The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself

Author: Lucia Capacchione

This journaling book has been around since 1980 and is still popular today. Released in its 35th Anniversary Edition in 2015 this book is jam-packed with a wide variety of exercises you can do in your journal. It takes a psychological approach to creative journaling and guides readers into deeper self-understanding with specific activities.

Who this book is for: People who want to get to know themselves, and anyone who wants to learn how to journal creatively by including words, images, drawings and visuals into their journaling. This book is also great for people who want to get more creative with their journaling!

  • Why Emma-Louise loves it: I love this journaling book because it is so full of exercises to try - with real-life examples! If you want to do more than just write as you get to know yourself - this is the book for you. And while many of the exercises include drawing - you don't have to be an artist either, as the many included examples demonstrate.
  • Why Lynda loves it: I love this book because it is, as the title suggests, very creative in style. It has both text and visual elements throughout, really bringing the reader into clear examples of what creative journaling can look like and how it can help us work with both the known and unknown parts of our lives, the past and the future.

3) The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Whilst not strictly a journaling book, Julia created the practice of "morning pages" which many journal writers around the world have embraced - and still use today. A 25th Anniversary Edition was released in 2016.

Author: Julia Cameron

Who this book is for: Anyone, especially people looking for a structured daily practice, or a 3 month program to follow to get to know themselves.

  • Why Emma-Louise loves it: Well, I love coaching questions - and this is like a whole book chock full of questions to answer to get to know ourselves more deeply. You can follow Julia's program over 12 weeks - or just use the chapters and questions for inspiration in your "morning pages".
  • Why Lynda loves it: While this is an older journaling book, I still find inspiration in it. This book first introduced the very popular Morning Pages, a daily practice of writing to fill three full pages first thing in the morning before doing anything else.

3 Classic Journaling Books

4) Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth - Open the door to self-understanding - by writing, reading, and creating a journal of your life

First published in 1990, this book is written by a therapist who also teaches "journal therapy". In particular, Kathleen helps us understand what psychologists recognize as the "extraordinary powers of journal writing".

Author: Kathleen Adams

Who this book is for: This journaling book is for anyone who would like to explore the breadth and depth of journaling, and it's also fabulous if you're looking to understand why journal writing is so powerful.

  • Why Emma-Louise recommends it: This book shows us how journaling can be used across all areas of our lives - even our careers! There are exercises to try and lots of real journal entries. It's an easy, fun read that makes journaling real.
  • Why Lynda loves it: I appreciate this book because it was one of the first I read on journaling many years ago. It features actual journal or diary entries which brings the teaching in the book to life. It also offers many specific journaling techniques that can be used to work through problems, heal relationships and recover from grief and other emotional wounds.

5) One to One: Self-Understanding Through Journal Writing

Author: Christina Baldwin

Originally published in 1977, the 1991 updated edition was completely revised. It shares lots of the author's personal journaling examples - and powerfully illustrates how a journal can be used for self-knowledge and growth.

Who this book is for: This book is for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of what journal writing really is and discover the many reasons for keeping a journal.

  • Emma-Louise: I haven't read this book yet, but it's high on my "to read" list. Self-understanding (my own - and helping people with theirs) is why I got into coaching!
  • Why Lynda loves it: This book is a thought-provoking guide to acquiring self-knowledge and self-confidence through free flowing writing. I love how the author brings a spiritual and personal growth energy into this book. She emphasises writing for ourselves and about ourselves as a self-centering practice.

6) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

While this is not a book on journaling, it is a fun and popular book on creative writing with great relevance and inspiration for personal journaling! With lots of personal examples and fun ideas from where to write, how to write more expressively and overcoming the fear of writing (just write!). Originally published in 1986 and updated in 2005 and 2016.

Author: Natalie Goldberg

Who this book is for: This book is for anyone interested in writing as a life practice. It's also great for people interested in expressing themselves more creatively and freely on the page.

  • Why Emma-Louise loves it: This book inspired me to get more creative with my writing, to try new things, find my own voice - and to get over myself (get over my fears of what other people think). With short easy to read chapters and lots of advice and tips!
  • Why Lynda loves it: Natalie Goldberg is one of my favourite authors. Years ago, I participated in one of her writing retreats called "How Close Can I Get?" at Hollyhock on Cortes Island. Natalie is a writer and a Zen practitioner and she combines both practices wholeheartedly. Writing Down the Bones is one of her earlier books and she has written many books since. She teaches that "you have to give yourself the space to write a lot without a destination." She also encourages to trust your first thoughts and write from the energy and power of the present moment.

3 Journaling Books for Coaches (learn how to use journaling in your practice!)

7) Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients: A Complete Guide to the Benefits of Personal Writing

Use this link to get the book direct from the publisher and use Coupon Code: SMA07 to get 20% off the full-price book!

Co-editors: Lynda Monk and Eric Maisel

Yes, Emma-Louise, Lynda Monk and another guest author, Jennifer Britton are all in this one - and it's hot off the press!

Who this book is for: This book is for coaches, therapists, and other helping or healing professionals who want to use journaling in their transformational work with others. It also speaks to clients and journal keepers with journaling tips, prompts and exercises in each of the 51 chapters in the book.

  • Why Emma-Louise loves it: Well, I am a bit biased as I (and two more of our guest authors: Lynda Monk and Jennifer Britton) wrote a chapter in this book! my chapter is 45, p283). There are 5o other fabulous short chapters - each from a passionate journal writer. There are journal writing experts, as well as practitioners and people with very specific journal writing niches. Each chapter has tips for how helping professionals as well as tips for journal writers themselves. It is the most expansive book I know of about journaling as a tool for coaches and therapists!
  • Why Lynda loves it: I love this journaling book because it is the most comprehensive collection of voices and vast guidance on journaling specifically for coaches, helpers and their clients that I have ever seen. I am biased, given that I was a key part of bringing this book into being, along with my co-editor, creativity coach, Eric Maisel - but still, when I put my objective hat on and look at this book, I am incredibly impressed with the amazing chapters written by our contributing authors, including Emma-Louise!

8) Therapeutic Journal Writing: An Introduction for Professionals (Writing for Therapy or Personal Development)

Author: Kate Thompson

Published in 2010, this journaling book is intended to support healing and helping professionals use journaling in their work. The reviews also suggest that individuals have also found the exercises and prompts helpful for their own healing.

Who this book is for: This book is intended for professionals who use therapeutic writing, or would like to use it, in their transformational and healing work with others.

  • Emma-Louise: This book is on my wish list. I had planned on reading it and then recommending it to past clients and friends - but in writing this article, I'm now curious to try it out for myself too!
  • Why Lynda recommends it: I recommend this book for the thorough way it shows how journaling can be a therapeutic practice. I also like how the author gives an overview of the groundbreaking authors and pioneers in the therapeutic journaling realm including: Marion Milner, Ira Progroff, Christina Baldwin, Tristine Rainer, Kathleen Adams, and James Pennebaker.

9) The Healing Power of Writing: A Therapist's Guide to Using Journaling With Clients

Author: Susan Borkin

This journaling book offers presenting problems that clients might be dealing with such as anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, relationship issues, trauma and more, and it offers specific journaling solutions for working with these various life and health issues.

Who this book is for: This book is for those who want to more formally integrate journaling into their healing or clinical work with clients.

  • Why Emma-Louise recommends it: This book offers a step by step guide on how to bring journaling into your practice, as well as many specific exercises you can use. It is perhaps a little more specific to therapeutic diagnoses, but it's also easy to see how you might adapt these to coaching topics. It also has a helpful chapter with guidelines around potential journaling issues.
  • Why Lynda loves it: As the author says, "While much has been written about the physical and emotional benefits of writing, little has been written specifically for mental health professionals detailing how to use therapeutic journaling with their clients." This book does this in a skillful way. I would recommend this book for coaches who also have a clinical background, as not all coaches will be supporting people with these challenges and this brings more of a mental health approach to the application of journaling.

3 Journaling for Mental Health & Wellness Books

10) Expressive Writing: Words that Heal

Published in 2014 this book is about "Using expressive writing to overcome traumas and emotional upheavals, resolve issues, improve health, and build resilience".

Authors: John Evans and James Pennebaker

Who this book is for: This book is for those interested in how to transform their health and heal through expressive writing.

  • Why Emma-Louise recommends it: Written jointly by a social psychologist (Pennebaker) and coach (Evans) this book offers research and many helpful activities to try and help us overcome our issues - and build resilience through understanding ourselves more deeply.
  • Why Lynda loves it: One of the many reasons I love this journaling book is because of the important research done by both authors respectively. Their work is among some of the best research that affirms expressive writing as an effective evidence-based practice for achieving greater health, well-being, and resilience. They not only teach specific writing to heal approaches, they also offer ways to look back at our past writing and analyze it, which is fascinating!

11) With Pen in Hand: The Healing Power of Writing

Author: Henriette Anne Klauser

Who this book is for: This book is for individuals interested in how to use the power of words and writing to heal emotional pain and overcome loss.

  • Emma-Louise: I wasn't aware of this book until recently. As a "fixer" (my first response to difficulty is to try and fix it) I am excited to read this book as recommended by Lynda.
  • Why Lynda loves it: The author provides a variety of writing techniques that can help bring comfort and perspective during difficult or painful times in life. Her approach to healing through writing and story is about wholeness, releasing and integration, not necessarily about fixing or changing anything. She references Dr. James Pennebaker's research and emphasizes the mind/body link between writing and health.

12) Journaling for Joy - The Workbook: Writing Your Way to Personal Growth and Freedom

Author: Joyce Chapman

A version of this journaling book was originally published in 1995, and then this workbook "companion" edition was published in 2015. This book is filled with journaling for joy prompts to help you discover your inner truth.

Who this book is for: Great for beginner and expert journalers alike, Journaling for Joy is for anyone who wants to embrace a playful and joyful approach to their journaling and their wellness too.

  • Why Emma-Louise loves it: I love that this journaling book focuses on joy—or helping us get to know ourselves well enough that joy is more likely to emerge… I have recommended this book because it's practical and a really great way to get started—and truly enjoy—journaling.
  • Why Lynda loves it: One of the reasons I love this book is because of the author, Joyce Chapman. I have the privilege of connecting with Joyce through our shared love and work in the field of journaling, and she practices what she preaches as a daily journal writer. She lives a joyful life in part due to her abiding commitment to her own journaling practice. Chapter one in this book is called "Discovering Your Truth" and starts with: "Do you know that what you need to be happy, you already have? It will emerge from within when invited and given the chance." And then, "Rest assured your inner self holds nothing but the highest truth and good in store for you." This positive and invitational language resonates throughout this whole book.

3 Books for Journaling in Groups and Community

While journaling is usually done alone, there is great benefit to journaling with others. And if you're a coach who runs group coaching programs, journaling makes a beautiful addition to the group experience.

13) Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection

Authors: Wendy Judith Cutler, Lynda Monk & Ahava Shira

This book was co-authored by three women, and was written for women (although men can also benefit from journaling in community with others using the practices in this book). Part memoir, part writing practice and part ‘how to', it features journaling prompts and activities, as well as many of the author's unedited journal entries, written during their journal writing time together. It offers four key practices for writing alone with others.

Who this book is for: If you want to start a journaling group of your own, this book is for you.

  • Why Emma-Louise loves it: Well, I know all three writers so am a little biased! I took a memoir-writing course with Wendy in 2009 and I continued to meet with my 'class' monthly until a couple of years ago. Ahava is active in my community and is a fellow active journal writer. And Lynda, well, she is many things to me - friend, guest author, editor, Mastermind partner and more. This book offers powerful tips and a process for journaling in a "circle" or group.
  • Why Lynda loves it: I value this book because it was a true labour of love and commitment to co-author it with Wendy Judith Cutler and Ahava Shira. We poured our hearts, knowledge and words into the writing of this book, in the hopes that it could inspire others to write deeply for themselves and to perhaps share the power of journaling in community with others. I appreciate the four practices of Writing Alone Together offered in this book, and the many principles for successfully writing in community. The diverse writing prompts and activities, as well as our personal responses to them, bring this book to life.

14) Writing Alone, Writing Together: A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups

Author: Judy Reeves

Published in 2002, this book is about writing and not specifically about journaling. Yet it offers many tips and ideas about writing in groups which are applicable to anyone who wants to start a journaling group.

Who this book is for: This book is for anyone interested in learning more about the craft of writing, and the benefits of improving such in a community with other writers. If you want to improve your writing and learn how to nourish your writing with others, this book is highly recommended.

  • Emma-Louise: This book is on my wishlist! I have been part of a couple of writing groups, and am looking to craft my own writing group for community, encouragement - and to get writing done! Lynda assures me this book will help.
  • Why Lynda loves it: Judy Reeves is a wonderful writer and I love all of her books! She is also a terrific writing teacher and her creative wisdom shines through in this book. This book is not about journaling, although anything about the craft of writing can also serve to enrich our own personal writing practice. There is a lot offered on how to critique writing in this book, and with journaling we are never critiquing the writing. However, there is lots to learn in this book about writing with others, creating writing groups, how to build a workshop group, how to go from idea to final draft, and more. One of my favourite parts of the book are the many inspiring quotes throughout, writing samples, lots of how to, the element of having a writing ritual and routine, and the notion of surrendering to the page. I also value Judy's encouraging voice throughout the pages of this book.

15) Writing Alone and with Others

Author: Pat Schneider

While this is not a book specifically about journaling, chapter 4 is called The Journal. Here Pat suggests we keep a ‘Writer's Journal' - a place and a practice to help us "claim writing as our art form, and to accept ourselves as artists" (p63). She also says this offers a consistent place to practice our craft and be patient with ourselves.

Who this book is for: This book is for writers who want to overcome writer's block, banish fear and create lasting work.

  • Emma-Louise: Another book on my wishlist, as I begin to find time for more writing - this is a book I am excited to read. Pat's methods have been used in just about every conceivable situation - including jails and schools and I am keen to learn more!
  • Why Lynda loves it: Writing Alone and with others was written by the late Pat Schneider, who was both an incredible writer and a gifted writing teacher. This book opens with an introduction called "A Writer is Someone Who Writes." Journaling is writing. I believe those who journal are writers. I like how this book is divided into parts including: Part I - The Writer Alone, Part II - Writing with Others, Part III - Additional Exercises. As a special bonus, you can access a beautiful Blessing for a Writer by Pat Schneider on my website here.

Coming soon...

  • The Great Book of Journaling: 40 Journaling Enthusiasts and Experts Show You Exactly How to Take Your Personal Writing to the Next Level! (Mango, Spring 2022). Co-edited by Eric Maisel & Lynda Monk, both Lynda and Emma-Louise have chapters in this book too!

Wrap-up

While Emma-Louise hasn't read all of the books yet, she plans to! Combined with Lynda's expert recommendations we hope you enjoyed this co-created list of 15 of our favourite journaling books.

We both hope that these books inspire your journaling (or perhaps inspire you to start journaling!), and that you have lots of new ideas to use with your clients, groups - and more.

Author Bios

Emma-Louise Elsey HeadshotContributing author: Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003. She's a huge journaling fan, and the founder of both The Coaching Tools Company.com and her latest venture, Fierce Kindness where shares personal tips, tools and ideas to transform ourselves—and our world! Originally a project/relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her passion for coaching, creativity and love of systems to create 100+ brandable coaching exercises including 30 completely free coaching tools. She serves coaches through her newsletter for coaches and loves to offer ideas for your coaching toolbox!

Lynda Monk 2017 HeadshotContributing author: Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing. Lynda regularly writes, speaks, and teaches about the transformational and healing power of writing. She is the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journaling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection (2014), and co-editor of Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients: A Complete Guide to the Benefits of Personal Writing (2021). You can find her FREE gift for coaches here: Gratitude Journaling for Coaches & Clients Workbook.

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2 Comments

  1. Christina

    I absolutely loved The Artist’s Way!! Excited to check out the rest of the books on this list as I’ve started getting more into journaling. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Fiona Yaso

    Thank you for the comprehensive list. My favourite Journaling book is the The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself because I love to self-reflect and the exercises help a lot.

    Reply

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