I’ve been journaling for as long as I can remember. At the end of each school year, I would tear out the used pages of my spiral notebooks and used what remained as a diary. Because my parents didn’t speak English, my little brother couldn’t read, and my older sister was married and out of the house, I didn’t occur to me to protect my most intimate thoughts – as intimate as a 13-year-old in 1989 could get.
There was the kiss at the field trip to the planetarium after the lights went down. The long-held, unrequited crush on a boy I’d sat in class with everyday since 3rd grade. Wondering if I’d ever actually need a bra, if I’d ever be as smart as the teacher’s pet, or as pretty as my fair-skinned, blond classmates whose moms didn’t use them to practice haircuts and home perms.
One time, in high school, wrote about the time a guy who I really liked asked me to leave the safe confines of the Cineplex Odeon movie theater and go for a drive with him, without my parent’s permission. My mom either miraculously taught herself to read in English or enlisted my sister to translate, but somehow she read my diary and I got in big trouble.
At that moment, I made what is now one of my biggest regrets: I threw out every single one of my childhood diaries and didn’t start journaling again until I was married.
Today, most of my journaling is basically venting. If future generations excavated my journals they would assume I led a horribly unhappy existence – kind of how we feel when we look at pictures of our great-grandparents staring gravely into the camera. But, the truth is that I am NOT always as sad as my journals would have you believe. But that is the dark place where my pen goes when confronted with a blank page.
This is where guided journals come in.
Guided journals are books with prompts and questions that are meant to bring out more than just what’s bugging you at that very moment. If you’re new to journaling, or just want to move beyond venting, a guided journal is a good place to start. The following are some of the coolest guided journals I’ve come across. (Click on the image for pricing and to learn more.)