I am bad at journals. It’s just not a natural fit with my personality. Or my schedule. As a result, despite giving it the occasional college try, I’ve only journaled occasionally over the years.
But I’m kicking off a new, more dedicated journal phase. Because I’m working on a project involving journals and fountain pens. And I will soon get to use my new, beautiful Seven Seas journal.
Yet, despite that little kick-start, I foresee reaching the same stumbling block as always: me being bad at journals. So I could really use some help, if not to turn into a master journal writer, then at least to make my fountain pen and journals project better.
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8 thoughts on “On Journaling, and Crowd Sourcing Some Help With That”
Despite the fact that I successfully kept a journal throughout highschool, the me of middle age is also very bad at it. I guess it’s because the angst quotient of my life is substantially less these days, and, like you, I find writing out what I did that day to be unbearably dull. “But I know this already!” my brain objects, heedless of the truth that I will eventually forget it. Anyway, what I am trying for 2017 is a Hobonichi Techo. It’s small, which is a plus, with one page per day. And it’s fountain-pen friendly. And on each page I will write three good things that happened that day. And that’s it. I suspect it will be somewhat of a challenge to find these things, and might often be some form of “the kitties snuggled and it was cute” but that’s okay.
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Jon, I like your reply. I especially liked the last part. If I waited on something profound to say, I would not need a journal at all. I do have a Black N Red notebook that I write quotes in though, that speak to me. That was my first journal, but it is mostly hen scratch. I had planned to do a journal in the future about my thoughts about my kids, and life in general. But it is on the back burner at this time. The nuggets from my past have been passed on verbally to my kids, and friends.
My Commonplace type book on natural remedies and stuff is mainly for my kids. (well they are grown now) I hope they keep this, and will be able to use some of that knowledge. I also have stuff I’ve printed out for them, and placed in notebooks too.
When I was a kid, I used to have a diary. My little brother was always trying to find where I hid it. It had a lock, but he could pick it. It was too much work trying to keep it away from him. Who knows, maybe one day I will start another. I have toyed with the idea for sure.
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Kelly, what’s the difference between a diary and a journal?
Kelly, thank you for the nice words. I do want to point out that my post was not in contention or counterpoint with yours, or any other post. I consider all approaches to written thought valid, and was only illuminating what motivates me. I think that “journal” is a word that is quite expansive and inclusive of many approaches and inspirations, and one should focus on the approach that benefits themselves the most.
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I, on the other hand, want a journal to be as FAR away from schedules, lists, organizing, structure, etc. I like a journal that is messy, has personality, has little short entries, and big whopping nonsense entries. I want the story of my thoughts, not a catalog of my responsibilities.
I”m very poor at it, in terms of regularity, but that is as much a reflection of my life, anyway, as anything. I just accept it at this point.
I took a journaling seminar a little over a year ago and, while they have been slow to be implemented, I *did* gain some good notions. One was the concept of “prompts”, which gave a lot more variety to the fuel to kick-start a writing session. They are probably covered in the many books and websites on journaling, but basic constructs like gratitude, dreams, describing a place, reflecting on quotes of others, many more. If nothing else, maybe YOU could do a blog entry that would ask for input on “What are your favorite writing prompts?”
And regularity, which I don’t just struggle with, I exercise massive fail about. But I try. She had a good way of putting it (I will attempt to recall/paraphrase), in context of doing a little writing every morning (or pre-determined time): “If you wait until you have something profound to say, you may find yourself waiting a very long time; if you write as a discipline, the epiphanies will come.”
I just need a bit more discipline.
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So, I do find that when I write in a journal, I do reach — I wouldn’t call mine epiphanies, but more like an occasional payoff of clarity, unearthed by the process of writing. I’d discover thoughts I didn’t know I had, or insights into how to see something another way, or deal with something going forward. And that part I really like.
And I think it’s really helpful advice that people should just start, rather than waiting for something profound to say. Sadly, my hiccup was different: I didn’t feel the need to wait for inspiration to strike. I don’t ever think I have anything profound to say. 🙂 I just say whatever occurs to me. 🙂 (I’m sure blog readers are nodding in recognition here.) So I could start off just fine. But I would find myself too often journaling about things that were too quotidian to hold even my interest.
My stumbling block has always been finding the motivation and interest to keep going, after the initial “I should journal” resolution and sense of purpose fades. Then it starts to be a task. And I realize that I could instead do something I find actually fun. Or even things that aren’t fun, but are more obviously useful: exercise, say, or even household chores that at least offer a more immediate and tangible reward (laundry folded, kitchen cleaned, etc.). That’s what I really need to overcome. The answer is probably: make it a habit.
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Laura, now I will do the second half of my comments about how I journal. This is my simplified bullet journal. I don’t have a lot of things going on, but it is still useful.
On the first page I put my name, phone number, and a symbol key, with symbols underneath.
Square is the symbol for task.
Square with a check mark is a task competed.
Square with a star beside it is a high priority task.
Square with a right arrow going through the middle means it didn’t get completed, and it migrated to the next month.
Square with a left arrow means it migrated to a certain month, then I write the month.
— this is a note symbol
A very small circle is an event symbol.
Narrow triangle is an appointment.
Upside down triangle with a closed small circle is an urgent appointment symbol.
Heart- something I love, or an idea.
8 or infinity sign right side up-signifies a collection, list, project.
Then I go to the next four pages, which I leave open and mark them as an INDEX.
Then I go to the next 3 pages and mark them by month, and label them Future Logs. Future logs will contain something like bills that I don’t pay every month, vet visits, time to buy new flea or heartworm meds, birthdays, holidays, shows…whatever.
Then I go to the next page, and start the month on one side. The next page is the month and task page.
On the month page I list every day in that month by number. Next to that I put the day of the week.
I always mark the month in two columns. 1-20 or 21 on the left side, and in the middle I start writing the next set of days.
Each index page is marked: A, B, C, D
Then on the month I number starting one. The following task page for that month is page two.
Then I start the following month as page 3, with task page numbered 4, and so on.
I do not do months in advance. I may need another page, and if they are pre-marked, it would mess it up. At the end of the month, I start the next month page, with month task page. I write the associated numbers in the index log.
Now for my bill bullet journal, it is much more simplified than the journal above. The good thing about the bullet journal is, you can do it the way YOU WANT, and you can have it as basic, or complicated as you need.
If you run out of index pages, you just start another set, and start with E, which would be the next letter in the alphabet. I also list the year on the top line of the index page. This Clairefontaine book will probably last me 3 years, with what I write now. I hope I explained it in an understandable way.
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Laura, I like A5 or B5 sizes the best. But for small journals Field Notes is acceptable. (fp friendly only from now on)
My favorite paper to show off ink is definitely Tomoe River paper. So that has something to do with why I love the Seven Seas journals. Plus they are stitched, and I prefer that. They will lay flat, but you may need to break it in first. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwvD7vyqZrs
The link is Nanami showing you how to break in a journal that is stitched. DO NOT try this with a staple or glue bound journal. I do mine very similar to what he did in the video. But I do more sections, and don’t bend it completely over like he does. Plus I am more gentle with my journals than he was…lol.
Seven Seas- I like The Writer, and Crossfield both. A5 size currently inked, date cleaned, pen and ink entries plus
I use one for natural remedies and medical notes etc…it could be considered a Commonplace book. One book will last a long time, pages are thin, and the ink looks the best in these books.
Quo Vadis Habana – Turquoise, Lined (6.30 x 9.45) ink, & pen notes, perfect size with elastic band, has Clairefontaine paper
Clairefontaine Basic Clothbound Notebook – Green, Lined (5.83 x 8.27) bullet journal, contains heavier paper and an elastic band
Rhodia Webnotebook A5 for computer notes, does not lay flat for me, but otherwise I like this one a lot
Apica Premium A5 bill ledger, and I another one to test ink samples with
Clairefontaine 1951 Clothbound Notebook – Lined (5.83 x 8.27) stapled, I use these for pen and ink entries as mentioned in the blog yesterday
Moleskine/Field Notes-I use these for notes and ideas. I also keep a medical log with one. It doesn’t matter if it bleeds through a little or feathers.
All of the journals listed are my most used journals. I have stopped using paper that is not fountain pen friendly. I am on my last Moleskine, and don’t plan to buy another. (they aren’t fountain pen friendly)
I do tend to prefer nice journals, as they show off my ink more. So I do tend to try to write prettier, and more legible in them. My hands shake, so I have been trying to improve my writing.
I will give you more data later.
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