10 Guided Journals for Organized Self-Improvement

amazon / istock
amazon / istock

The blank pages of a new journal can be intimidating. Fend off a creativity block with books that are full of prompts and activities, designed to help you practice mindfulness and stretch your creativity. Here are a few journals that will guide you through a project you can reflect on for years to come.

1. JOURNAL SPARKS: FIRE UP YOUR CREATIVITY WITH SPONTANEOUS ART, WILD WRITING, AND INVENTIVE THINKING; $12

Emily K. Neuburger encourages thinking outside the box with this journal. The book’s 60 writing prompts and projects promise to spark creativity and the use of imagination. This vibrant journal is suited for people of all ages who want to record the inner workings of their minds by artistic means.

Find It: Amazon

2. BEST OF SUMMER YEARBOOK AND JOURNAL; $10

Help your little one get the most out of the warmer season with this journal of art projects and activities. Though it's aimed toward children, this diary gets everyone involved in completing projects and filling in the funny prompts, and features activities that will last the whole summer.

Find It: Amazon

3. DRAW EVERY DAY, DRAW EVERY WAY: SKETCH, PAINT, AND DOODLE THROUGH ONE CREATIVE YEAR; $12

Colorful and creative, this journal acts as a canvas for a year’s worth of drawing prompts. All 365 pages, divided up into themed months, offer tutorials on how to best utilize the different types of paper. The journal also features tips on the best pens and pencils to use for any aspiring artist.

Find It: Amazon

4. Q&A A DAY: 5-YEAR JOURNAL; $14

Have you ever wondered how much you’ve changed over time? Here’s an opportunity to take stock. Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal offers a question for every day of the year. Revisit and answer the questions each year as you build something that you’ll be able to reflect on over the years.

Find It: Amazon

5. WRECK THIS JOURNAL; $10

Keri Smith’s journal presents unconventional instructions: Destroy the pages. Mistakes are celebrated in this book through prompts like poking holes through pages and painting with coffee—all of which result in a messy masterpiece.

Find It: Amazon

6. 1 PAGE AT A TIME: A DAILY CREATIVE COMPANION; $10

With its simple formula and 365 witty prompts, this journal invites readers to remember the past, record the present, and dream about the future. By the the time you finish, you'll be an archive of memories from the year.

Find It: Amazon

7. FINISH THIS BOOK; $10

This book may be authored by Keri Smith, but the reader is the one who does the real storytelling. Smith’s journal offers puzzles and storytelling opportunities for anyone who likes a good mystery. Complete instructions in the spy-manual looking pages as the story unfolds.

Find It: Amazon

8. I LOVE SCIENCE: A JOURNAL FOR SELF-DISCOVERY AND BIG IDEAS; $10

Mindfulness through discovery, that's the idea behind this journal. Its pages feature detailed infographics, quotes from famous female scientists, and plenty of room for the journaling of thoughts and experiments.

Find It: Amazon

9. ADULT-ISH: RECORD YOUR HIGHS AND LOWS ON THE ROAD TO THE REAL WORLD; $15

Christina Vanko’s journal is a good fit for anyone who’s about to start living on their own. Featuring doodles and prompts, each page provides a space for young adults to record the trials, triumphs, and firsts of living independently. Once the book is filled, the author will be able to relive how they got to the place where they are now.

Find It: Amazon

10. WHAT'S YOUR COLOR STORY? A GUIDED JOURNAL COLORING BOOK TO SPARK YOUR CREATIVE ENERGY AND IGNITE YOUR LOVE OF COLOR; $8

Think like an artist: Acting as a coloring book and a journal, this book explores the reader’s relationship with color. Fill the pages and explore thoughts and feelings across the whole spectrum.

Find It: Amazon

11. JANE-A-DAY 5 YEAR JOURNAL; $17

This journal is a must-have for any Jane Austen fan. The pages within the regal cover are prompted with an Austen quote for every day of the year. Reflect on the work of your favorite author as you fill out this book.

Find It: ThinkGeek

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

13 Things You Might Not Know About H.P. Lovecraft

Crabitha, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Crabitha, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Though it’s been more than a century since H.P. Lovecraft was born, the writer’s weird fiction and cosmic horror remain both influential and problematic. Lovecraft’s ghastly tales of alien gods, bloodguilty families, and collapsing civilizations have influenced authors like Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell. The new HBO horror series Lovecraft Country—which was created by Misha Green and executive produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out) and J.J. Abrams (Star Wars)—explores 1950s racism via dramatic encounters with Lovecraftian monsters. Check out some facts about this twisted soul from Providence, Rhode Island. (Warning: Some of the sources linked within contain offensive and racist language.)

1. H.P. Lovecraft had a tough childhood.

Born on August 20, 1890, Howard Phillips Lovecraft grew up under tragic, bizarre circumstances. His father, suffering from what was likely syphilis-induced psychosis, entered Providence’s Butler Hospital in 1893 and died there in 1898. (His mother went into the same mental hospital after World War I.) Lovecraft’s grandfather told him horror stories, and Lovecraft honed his lurid imagination by devouring Edgar Allan Poe and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. After his grandfather’s death, his family fell into poverty, and he had a nervous breakdown before graduating high school.

2. H.P. Lovecraft’s iconic monsters have murky origins.

When Lovecraft, at age 5, lost his grandmother, his mother and aunts wore eerie black mourning dresses. His subsequent nightmares may have inspired his black-winged, demonic Night-Gaunts. Another of his monsters, Dagon, is a water denizen with a “hideous head” and “scaly arms,” and the name, which Lovecraft first used in a 1919 short story, matches that of the Biblical god of the Philistines. And the infamous Cthulhu, a gigantic octopus-dragon hybrid, may reflect Lovecraft’s hatred of seafood.

3. H.P. Lovecraft co-wrote a short story about Egypt with Harry Houdini.

In 1924, the editor of Weird Tales paid Lovecraft $100 to write “Imprisoned With the Pharaohs,” based on Houdini’s claim that he’d once been kidnapped and trapped underground near the Great Pyramid of Giza. Lovecraft figured this was bogus, but did extensive Egyptological research. The legendary magician offered Lovecraft more projects, but died in 1926 before they could collaborate further.

4. H.P. Lovecraft struggled to support himself.

Reclusive and socially inept, Lovecraft scraped by financially, sometimes by living with his family, sometimes being supported by his wife Sonia Greene. He wrote more than 60 short stories, plus some novels and novellas, but also penned an estimated 100,000 letters to friends and fans. Sometimes he skipped meals to pay for postage.

5. Metal bands are obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft.

Metallica’s “The Call of Ktulu” and “The Thing That Should Not Be” invoke Lovecraft’s greatest monster, as does Cradle of Filth’s “Cthulhu Dawn.” Black Sabbath’s “Behind The Wall of Sleep” is inspired by a 1919 Lovecraft story. Morbid Angel guitarist Trey Azagthoth derived his stage name from Azathoth, one of Lovecraft’s gods. The list goes on.

6. H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness influenced the movie Alien.

Alien writer Dan O’Bannon was influenced by Lovecraft’s 1936 novella about an ill-fated Antarctica expedition. Both stories involve explorers getting attacked by mysterious creatures in an unfamiliar environment, and the Alien somewhat physically resembles Cthulhu. Swiss artist H.R. Giger, who designed the facehuggers and chestbursters in Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic, released a surreal art book entitled Necronomicon, named after Lovecraft’s oft-cited spellbook.

7. Providence, Rhode Island, abounds with H.P. Lovecraft-related tourist attractions.

The city features the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences store and Lovecraft’s grave, among other highlights. Plus, Brown University houses the world’s largest collection of Lovecraft papers.

8. H.P. Lovecraft had a love-hate relationship with New York.

While residing in Brooklyn, Lovecraft enjoyed roaming around the Big Apple in search of ideas and hobnobbing with other literary types in the Kalem Club. However, 1927’s “Horror at Red Hook,” a story set in the neighborhood and involving occult sacrifices, displayed his xenophobia.

9. H.P. Lovecraft loved cats.

In a pompous essay entitled “Cats and Dogs,” he wrote: “The cat is such a perfect symbol of beauty and superiority that it seems scarcely possible for any true aesthete and civilised cynic to do other than worship it.” Horror stories like “The Cats of Ulthar” and “The Rats in the Walls” also reflect his penchant for felines. As a boy, Lovecraft owned a black cat whose name was a racial slur.

10. H.P. Lovecraft was extremely racist.

There’s no avoiding it: Lovecraft’s fiction, poetry, and correspondence include bigoted statements about Black, Jewish, and Irish people—among many other backgrounds. He admired Hitler and supported white supremacy. Recently, his troubling legacy has come under the microscope.

11. The World Fantasy Awards stopped using H.P. Lovecraft statuettes after the 2015 awards.

These awards, which have taken place annually since 1975, honor the best fantasy fiction published the year before. Winners used to receive a small bust of Lovecraft. That tradition ended due to his racist history. YA author Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper) petitioned to replace it with an Octavia Butler statuette. However, in 2017, the organizers unveiled a new design with a tree in front of a full moon.

12. A Wisconsin publishing house pumped up H.P. Lovecraft’s fame after his death.

If August Derleth and Donald Wandrei hadn’t co-founded Arkham House in Sauk City, Wisconsin, Lovecraft’s work might have languished in obscurity. After Lovecraft died of cancer at age 46 in 1937, Derleth and Wandrei wanted to put out a hardcover anthology of his fiction. When no established publisher bit, they published The Outsider and Others themselves in 1939. More omnibuses followed, and over the decades, Lovecraft became a household name.

13. H.P. Lovecraft continues to influence popular culture.

Besides Lovecraft Country, there are lots of recent reimaginings to choose from. South Park spoofed Cthulhu in 2010. Lovecraft’s influence on the 2016-launched Netflix series Stranger Things is well-documented. Between 2016 and 2018, Mark Hamill and Christopher Plummer lent their voices to the animated Howard Lovecraft film trilogy by Arcana Studio. Also, Nicolas Cage stars in the 2019 movie Color Out of Space, based on the Lovecraft story of that name.