I never consistently kept a journal until I was a teenager. I had never been hugely interested in the practice and it never occured to me to try writing in a notebook every day. When I was in high school, I picked up the first two books in a series by Louise Rennison and my views on journaling quickly changed.
The fiction books followed a teen named Georgia Nicholson who hilariously journaled everything in her life, from her huge cat Angus, to wearing thongs, to her dream of full-frontal snogging. I decided that I would try journaling as well.
And so I did. Obsessively.
My journal went everywhere with me. I wrote in it multiple times a day. If you’re wondering how I managed to have the time as as a junior and then senior in high school, let me tell you, I almost didn’t graduate. Not because of journaling, of course. But let’s just say, I had plenty of free time on my hands.
The last time I looked over my old journals, I had recorded just about every thought and event that had happened and as a result, most of it was frighteningly boring. Which, I suppose, is to be expected when you try to write what’s happening around you six times a day and you lead the life of a bored, depressed high school student.
After I graduated and started working, my journaling stayed pretty consistent, but not nearly as constant (thank goodness). Eventually, if memory serves, I stopped completely around 2009. In 2015, I started a digital journal.
This iteration didn’t yield many results and sometimes months would elapse between entries.
Sometimes I dreaded even writing in the journal because the previous entry would have been so long ago and I felt the need to catch myself up on everything that happened in between. Also, I would tend to write about things that had upset me more than anything else, and let’s just say that particular year skewed all on its own.
Pretty soon I couldn’t stand to open up the file and try to read over entries or record anything new. Between 2009 and 2015 and after 2016 until now, there were other attempts to get back to journaling.
But I can’t remember a single one that lasted more than a solitary entry.
Regardless of my past failures with journaling, I still remember the successes of it. Journaling made me feel better. It was nice to record my thoughts and feelings. I was able to look back on my high school journals and remember what it was like. My memory is so poor there were millions of small and large details to my high school years that I had completely forgotten about.
Moreover, I want my new journal to be something artistic I can have fun with. Instead of just writing words on lined pages, I want to explore visual art. Whether it’s a doodle or zentangle, or even if it develops into mixed media.
More importantly, however, I want to figure out a journal that will work for me. Clearly, I’ve struggled with it in the past. All things wax and wane, of course, but the benefits of journaling are something I could truly use in my life right now. Especially being in therapy and working to unpack a hefty amount of trauma. I want to use journaling to help me process feelings, work through emotions, and give my future self a message of hope to look back on.
Of course, there’s just one thing left to do now. That’s wait for my journal to be delivered.
Technically, more than that. In doing journal research I’ve come across so many different kinds of journals. From junk journals to Getting-Things-Done-style bullet journals to art journals and more. One consistent aspect of all these journals is that they all are designed to suit your needs. There are no hard and fast rules for any of them that limit your expression or ideas.
Which is great, because I think I might just Frankenstein a lot of different concepts together into one beast while I’m still starting out. Of course, I will probably pare down as I find what works and what doesn’t. But narrowing down what I want to keep or not repeat is going to take a while, I’m sure.
I definitely want to record my thoughts and feelings on a regular, if not daily, basis. I also want to use it to keep organized and productive. I had some initial doubts that one journal could support multiple purposes, but if I number the pages, keep an table of contents, and write until my fingers fall off, what could go wrong?
Really, my prime concern should probably be that I will go through notebooks too fast.
But even that’s okay. Because last time I checked, there wasn’t a world notebook shortage. As long as my supply of journals remain constant, everything should be alright. Right? Of course. Right.