How To Make Your Own Journal

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Life is a journey worth documenting in an artistic and personal way. Creating and decorating your own journal makes a one-of-a-kind statement as unique as your fingerprint. Use this guide to journal crafts to learn how to make your own journal.

Why Make Your Own Journal?

All the adventures of your life make great stories for you and family to enjoy, and journals are the perfect way to preserve, honor and if you'd like, share these stories. You could just write it all down in some notebook from the store, however, a homemade journal is a much warmer and more personal vehicle for your story.

Journal Themes

Many life events and hobbies spark the start of journals. Here are a few journal theme ideas that might inspire you to start your very own:

  • Memoirs: Perhaps the complexity and meaning of your life's journey compels you to document your epic story.
  • Child's milestones: Kids grow up so fast! A child's milestone journal helps you preserve every precious moment of his or her development.
  • Art or music: Keep a heartfelt record of your study, growth and accomplishments in the creative arts, or document the career of a beloved established artist.
  • Sports: Keep a record of your own (or your children's) sports accomplishments, or follow a famous athlete or team's progress.
  • Spiritual journey: Record your deepest insights, impressions and evolving view of the universe.
  • Travel/vacation: Keep a once in a lifetime travel experience with you forever.
  • Educational: As you pursue a new skill or advanced degree, record your impressions, doubts, hopes and accomplishments.
  • Weight loss or fitness: Record your challenges, dreams and triumphs as you create a healthier, stronger new body.
  • Cooking: Keep a scrumptious record of new recipes learned and the parallel life experiences that flavor your cooking adventures.
how to make your own journal how to make your own journal

How To Make A Journal

Making your own journal shouldn’t be a difficult, complicated procedure. These easy instructions will allow you to get started with your journaling process before you know it. Here's what you'll need:

  • One letter or legal sized piece of cardstock or cardboard for the cover. If you like, you can also use a piece of thin leather. Use at least 50 sheets of paper so the leather journal will last you longer.
  • 25 pieces of paper to match the cover size
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  • Knife
  • Hole punch
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Ribbon, yarn or attractive embroidery thread.

To assemble your journal:

  1. Fold the cardstock or cardboard in half and press the fold down flat with the back of a knife.
  2. Measure and cut away one half inch from one short side and one long side of each sheet of paper. Cutting several at a time will speed up the process.
  3. Fold each piece of paper in half and flatten the fold with the back of a knife.
  4. Open the sheets of paper, like books, and in the crease punch two holes: one about an inch from the top, and the other about an inch from the bottom.
  5. Lay the sheets one on top of another, lining the holes up on top of the open cardboard cover.
  6. With a pencil, mark the cover through the paper’s holes and punch holes in the cover to match those in the pages. Fold the cover closed, with the paper inside.
  7. Thread a piece of pretty ribbon, yarn or embroidery thread through the holes and tie a nice bow across the outer cover seam. The paper should now be secured inside the cover.
  8. Decorate your book any way you'd like.

Even though making a journal from scratch is pretty easy, it isn't for everyone. If you'd like a personalized journal, but really don't want to make one, don't despair. Pick up a three-ring binder or composition book from the store and make it your own through your unique decorations. You can also purchase a hardcover journal, and cover it with wallpaper, shelf liner, paint or permanent marker in a design of your choice. (For more wallpaper crafts, see The Best Creative Uses For Wallpaper).

Decorating Your Journal

Now you're ready to decorate your journal and transform it into a unique, expressive vehicle. Incorporate the theme of your writing, or use images and crafts that are meaningful to you. You may want to add some of these fun embellishments to your new book:

  • Cloth
  • Ribbons
  • Brightly colored buttons
  • Costume jewelry
  • Sequins
  • Glitter
  • Rhinestones
  • Decoupage
  • Images from magazines
  • Food packages or other relevant packaging
  • Original artwork
  • Stickers.

To protect your decorations (if they're flat), you may want to laminate your cover with clear contact paper.

Continuing The Process: What to Include in Your Journal Over Time

No matter how gorgeous your book is, what truly gives it value is what you include inside. Try not to be intimidated by the thought of filling up a blank book with something profound; this journal is for you and you don't have to ever share it unless you choose to. Don't worry about your writing skills; just write from your heart, even if the passage is short. Your honest life impressions are a thing of value, exactly as they are.

What To Keep In A Journal

Including more than just prose transforms your journal into a multi-sensory experience. You may want to include some of these evocative extras in yours:

  • Photos
  • Personal drawings
  • Ticket stubs
  • Bits of significant cloth
  • Letters
  • Poems
  • Scented/perfumed paper
  • Recordings on disc kept safely in a pretty envelope glued to a page
  • Printed paper napkins
  • Recipes
  • Awards
  • Meaningful quotes
  • Report cards
  • Infant hospital bracelets.

Your personal story deserves to be remembered. The journal you design and create will become a part of this amazing story, making it easier to share with others or just savor alone in quiet moments.

(For more ideas on book crafts, see Easy & Creative Book Crafts).

Last Updated: February 13, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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