40 Ideas for Filling Up Unused Notebooks

If you’re a writer or an office supplies junkie, chances are you’re addicted to collecting notebooks. If you’re anything like me, you’re also prone to hoarding unused notebooks, not wanting to “mess them up” because they’re so beautiful.

A couple years ago, when I started following Heart Breathings on YouTube, Sarra Cannon started a monthly notebook series and challenge, where she and viewers try to fill up one unused notebook a month. While I don’t participate in this challenge, it inspired me to find new ways to use my own notebooks at my own pace. So, what ideas do I have for filling these stationary pretties?

1) Write Your Novel’s First Draft by Hand

If you’re experiencing writer’s block while trying to write on your computer or tablet, switch things up by writing your first draft in a notebook! I started doing this a few years ago, and, arguably, have more productive writing sessions because of it.

2) Bullet Journal (Yes, Even on Lined Pages!)

The fun thing about bullet journaling is that, due to its ultra-creative nature, there are no limits to what you can do! Though bullet journaling is typically done in a dot-grid notebook, I’ve seen multiple examples of creative spreads on lined notebook pages as well. Don’t know where to start with bullet journaling? Check out how I use mine, or head on over to Pinterest for inspiration!

3) Prayer Journal

If you’re having a difficult time trying to pray verbally, I highly recommend starting a prayer journal! I first heard of the idea while watching videos by Morgan Tracy J. on YouTube, and converted an unfinished diary into one back in January. Prayer journaling has been a definite game-changer in my prayer life. I find I can better express the issues on my heart, and it serves as tangible evidence that God has answered past prayers. I may do an entire post on the benefits of prayer journaling in the future, so stay tuned for that! ❤

4) Gratitude Journal

If you’re going through a dark or depressing season, gratitude journaling can help remind you of the positive things in life. This is something I’ve tried to implement since last year, and I’ve found it’s super helpful on bad mental health days.

5) Create Your Own Recipe Book

Though this isn’t something I currently do, I’ve had family members create their own recipe books by either writing out recipes they’ve found by hand, cutting out and pasting in recipes from magazines, or doing a combination of both! If you love to cook or try new recipes, this would be a super fun way to keep track of your favorite meals!

6) Create Your Own Planner

Planners come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and layouts, but if you’re looking for something very specific and can’t seem to find it, there’s always the option of creating your own planner in a blank notebook. I’m too lazy to do this, but it seems to be a popular hobby, with tons of people joining the fun on YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

7) Lists

If you’re like me and strive to use notebooks for specific purposes, and you find yourself scribbling down hundreds of random lists on loose leaf paper to avoid messing up a notebook, why not reserve a notebook entirely for lists! I don’t currently do this, but oh, have I been tempted to in the past. XD

8) Pro/Con Lists

A little more specific than the previous idea, if you have trouble making decisions and need to weigh out choices, a notebook of pro/con lists could be beneficial!

9) Habit Tracker

Habit tracking has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Though it’s most often done in a bullet journal format, I don’t see why someone couldn’t dedicate an entire notebook to tracking multiple habits. One could track developing good habits, and log how they’re working to end destructive habits. This idea may take much longer to fill up a notebook, but it could greatly aid personal development!

10) Reading and Book Review Log

If you’re not a fan of posting public reading updates or book reviews on sites like GoodReads, there’s always the option of writing down your thoughts about the books you’ve read in a notebook, listing out your monthly or yearly TBR lists, etc. I’d recommend this practice if you’re a bookworm who is trying to wean yourself off social media. I’ve tried to do this in the past, but have strayed away from it.

11) Notes on Online Classes

Whether you’re a student in high school or college, or you enjoy taking personal development classes through websites like Teachable or Skill Share, taking notes by hand in a notebook is a practice that will help you retain more information than you would by typing out or copying and pasting notes.

12) Notes on Non-Fiction Books

While it’s easy to take notes on your favorite non-fiction books via a Kindle, writing notes out by hand or jotting down inspirational quotes in a notebook is another option.

13) Fitness Journal

Apps like MyFitnessPal offer a great online solution for tracking fitness progress, but if you’re looking for something more tangible, creating your own personalized fitness journal may be a great supplement to your fitness journey! Here, you could log your eating habits, your workouts, track your weight, and write down the non-scale victories you’ve had along the way.

14) Plot A New Book

If you’re an intense plotter, reserving an entire notebook for the sake of plotting might be your jam! Here, you could write out detailed descriptions for characters, scenes, and map how they all fit according to the story-structure map you may use.

15) Bible Notes and/or Christian Development

This is mainly what I use my bullet journal for, but I have used lined notebooks for this in the past. Bible notes can be done book by book, chapter by chapter, or even by verses if you want to reflect on specific details. As far as Christian development goes, you could log things you’re grateful for, prayer lists, or areas of your life you’d like God to help you with.

16) Brain-dump or Rant Book

Though I haven’t tried this yet, part of me really wants to. In this type of notebook, you’re free to write whatever is on your mind, and rant about any topic imaginable in a safe place where there will be no judgment. If you’re like me and are often tempted to rant about politics or the downfall of society on social media, this will most definitely be a better outlet for you. XD

17) Vacation Memory Book

Instead of going the traditional route and making photo albums for vacations, you could use a notebook to 1) Write down memories you made on different vacations and 2) paste in pictures that capture those specific memories next to the text. Depending on how often you go on vacation, this could take a while to fill up as well, but it would be really fun to look back on with family and friends!

18) Dream Journal (As in Sleeping Dreams)

This is something I’ve done off and on since 2007/2008. I’m prone to having incredibly strange dreams, and so I like to write the weirdest ones down in detail if I can remember them upon waking up.

19) Goals/Progress Journal

Though this is similar to habit tracking in a way, a goals/progress journal would represent a longer time frame than a habit tracker. Here, you could write down which goals you would like to accomplish within the next few years, rather than focusing on which habits you’d like to implement over the next few months. You could also write down how your progress is going on bigger projects you’re working on, such as writing a book or pursuing a college degree.

20) Movie/TV Show/Video Game Progress Tracker

If you want to keep track of the media you consume, listing your thoughts on them, or just track your progress on film series, TV shows, video game levels, some people find dedicating a journal to these areas to be a fun outlet.

21) Wedding Planning

If you’re the type of girl that knows what you want and have been planning out every minute detail of your dream wedding on Pinterest for the past ten years, creating your own wedding planning HQ in a notebook could help you keep track of your big day.

22) Home Organization HQ

With this type of notebook, homeowners dedicate one central place to logging where they store things in their home, when to complete certain chores, etc. Most often, this is done in a bullet journal format, but lined pages would work perfectly fine as well.

23) A Plain Ol’ Diary

If you want to write down your personal thoughts and feelings, you can’t go wrong with this tried and true method.

24) Blog Posts/Content HQ

If you’re a blogger and find planning posts and content a hectic experience, buy yourself a cheap notebook and use it solely for writing blog content and planning. I started doing this in 2021, and it’s been so nice to have one dedicated location for all my blogging ideas rather than having to sort through loose-leaf pages or my planner to figure out which post is supposed to come next.

25) Notes on World Events/Politics

If you like to be well-informed on what’s going on in the government and the world at large, writing down events you’ve lived through first hand in a notebook not only provides future generations a truthful account of history, but it can be tangible proof that certain events occurred, even if the media tries to “erase” them.

26) Plan Towns and Families for The Sims

The Sims is a video game that celebrates creativity, and planning out towns and townsfolk I wanted to create on the game used to be something I loved to do. Here, you could write down what kind of housing layouts you like, or the characteristics and names of the families you’d like to make.

27) Practice Calligraphy

I think this heading just says it all: in this type of notebook, you’d just practice your handwriting, writing in cursive, or learn to write in certain fonts.

28) Spending and Budgeting Tracker

If you’ve jumped on the Dave Ramsey train and are pursuing financial freedom, a spending and budget tracker could be right up your alley!

29) Family Memory Book

Similar to the vacation memory book listed above, here, you could write down any type of family memories and paste in pictures. It would be sorta like a photo album, but with more written details.

30) Family Tree Notes

Tracking your family tree can easily turn into a detail-rich rabbit hole, so writing down leads and fun facts along the way could help you remember important details.

31) Write Song Lyrics

I’m not a musician, but I used to dedicate entire notebooks to writing song lyrics. Some lyrics ended up being used in my most recent book, The Crush (The Ballad of Emery Brooks, #1).

32) Write Poetry

If poetry is more of your thing, fill a notebook with your musings!

33) Write Love Letters to Your Fiancé/Spouse

If you’re engaged, I highly recommend writing letters to your future spouse throughout your engagement. I’m doing this right now and plan to give the notebook to Josh the morning of our wedding (not where he can see me though, of course!) and it has been such a fun experience.

34) Write Letters to Your Kids

Similar to the idea above, if you’re pregnant, this would be a fun thing to do before your baby is born. You could even continue it after your bundle of joy is here, jotting down memories or advice for them.

35) Story/Series Headquarters

Some writers like to refer to this as a story “bible”, but for personal reasons, I like to use “headquarters” instead. In this type of notebook, writers can write down every minute detail about their story or series in one central place and refer back to it while writing. This type of notebook helps prevent continuity errors.

36) Beauty Product Reviews

If you’re really into makeup or trying different beauty products and want to keep track of the ones you love and hate, writing down your thoughts for future reference could lead to making more informed purchasing decisions on your next Sephora or Ulta trip.

37) Quotes or Bible Verses You Love

Here, you would just write down quotes or Bible verses that speak to you. Some people like to dedicate one page per quote/verse, and decorate the pages.

38) Birthdays of Your Friends and Family (Plus Addresses, Emails, and Phone Numbers!)

In my opinion, we’ve become tacky as a society for relying on social media to remind us when our friends and family’s birthdays are, so building a notebook that logs them month by month to help us keep track may be a fun alternative. Here, just like in a traditional address book of years past, you could also write down their home addresses/PO Box information, email addresses, and phone numbers in case your phone’s contact list runs into issues.

39) Names You Like

Whether you’re a writer or an expecting parent, filling a notebook with names you like, along with their meanings or origins, could be a fun hobby.

40) Sermon Notes

Last but definitely not least, if you attend church, you can’t go wrong with filling up a notebook with notes taken from sermons! This will help you retain what the pastor preaches about, and inspire you to dwell on it more throughout the week.

Talk to Me, Arrowheads!

How do you use your notebooks, and what other ideas do you have for filling up unused notebooks? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.

-Allyson 😀

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As an author and blogger, my goal is to teach writers that there is a way to write realistic, thought-provoking, redemptive Christian fiction that honors God while not sugarcoating the realities of the world. 

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