Journals for all!


Whether you call it a journal, a diary, a notebook, a log, or even a sketchbook, journals are wonderful tools.  They aren’t just for writer’s though, they are definitely for everyone.  In this world of high tech this and upgrade that, the journal is timeless and classic.  It has an elegance to it, putting it up there with medieval swords, feather pens, and the like.  It can also be therapeutic.  Let me tell you a little story.

Almost a year ago now I was having a hard time coping after a slightly traumatic incident.  It blindsided me and left me sorting out my thoughts the only way I knew how, the long drive back home from work.  I thought on the matter and the second my key hit the lock at home, I needed something to do.  There was my new telescope still in the box, so I tore into it, built it, collimated it, and when I ran out of things to do I fell asleep.

The next day I had a lot on my mind, but one thing came to the forefront.  I hadn’t written anything in roughly two years.  My first novel had grown a layer of dust on the shelf, and my old movie script was in even worse shape.  I was looking for anything to keep me occupied, so I started pulling random books off the shelf and flipping through them, but when I flipped through that script, something inside reminded me that there was plenty to be done, and precious little time.  I needed a project, but I had no idea what to write.

“What the heck,” I said, and shot down to the local bookstore to have a look around.  I found the fattest novel I could with ruling lines in it and threw down about twenty bucks.  I decided too, that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right, so it was off to the office store to buy a fountain pen, which was also around twenty.  I don’t recommend getting a fountain pen at an office store, but that’s a story for another time.

My thinking was this.  My mind was scattered by not only the event at hand, but also the day-to-day hustle-and-bustle of my busy life.  I needed a release.  I used to draw but in my present job it’s just not feasible, and I’m not about it like I used to be.  Writing, however.  It takes a few minutes, up to 15-30, for me to put an entry in my journal.  That’s 15-30 minutes where I’m not being bogged down with work, and I can be by myself and doing my own thing.  All of those scattered thoughts can come pouring out on the page and, like magic, it seems to calm the mind.  You can scream at the world with nobody overhearing.  You can set goals, or follow up on earlier ones.  You can organize your thoughts and your life.  Everyone should have a journal, and it shouldn’t take a traumatic event for you to realize it.  In the event of a trauma though, it’s also cheaper than a therapist 😉

So you have the journal.  I recommend getting a pen that’s nice and free flowing, like a gelpen, a rollerball, or a fountain pen if you like them.  Using the same tool each time you write in your journal will help seed thoughts, and something smoother than a bic crystal will help them flow freely.  The biggest issue for most people is something to write about, as very quickly jotting down notes from that days events grows tiresome, so I decided to give you some writing prompts.

  • I only bought this thing because the geckgo told me to.
  • My life in a nutshell
  • Hi book, nice to meet you, let me tell you about myself.
  • The one thing I’d really like to do by the end of the {week/year/my life} is…
  • My goals for the year
  • To meat or not to meat
  • My favorite foods
  • One food I’d like to try (Then get it and put another entry about how it was)
  • What I would I really need to do to {insert dream here}
  • Weird dream last night
  • Talked to {name} today
  • There’s nothing to write about, so I’m gonna draw a picture instead

If you are a writer, you can keep daily updates about how your project is progressing, or keep ideas about other projects that you’d like to try.  You can brush up on your literary prowess by colorfully describing something that you see.  If you are working on a car, you can keep a log of what you did to the car and what still needs to be done.  The office social butterfly can put comments down that are funny but might get you in trouble if said aloud.  Anything.  It’s your journal.  Something about putting a real pen on paper and drawing letters slows life down a little.  It’s like therapy for too-much-internet-itis.

Another thing, just for writers or people who wish to be writers.  This is the single easiest way to make sure that you write something everyday.  Describe your surroundings to practice your prose, or invent clever stories about random people you see to sharpen your wit.  The possibilities are endless.

I will say this, after finishing that giant 400 page monster, I put a lot of grief and bad times behind me.  Finishing the last page was like closing a chapter in my life, and now I’m hooked.  I have a normal little Foray brand leather journal and I can buy book inserts at any OfficeDepot (I keep two inserts in the Jeep).  It’s a little fussy and tends to drop a fiber in the end of my fountain pen from time to time, but the paper is soft and inviting, and it works.  I try my best to scribble an entry every single day.  Now that I’m writing again, I’ve noticed an improvement there as well.  I believe that a daily journal is the best tool you can have as a writer.  I also believe that even non-writers can benefit from putting pen to paper for a little while each day.  It’s just good for the soul.

Do you have a journal?  Writing prompts you want to share?  Other comments?  Please leave a note at the bottom of the page for everyone.  I love comments.  And if you like, follow me on twitter or Google+ so you can stay posted when the next post comes up.

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Author: spottedgeckgo

Writer. Making my living on my pen, and working to turn a raw chunk of land into a future homestead.

8 thoughts

  1. I’ve always had journals – I’ve managed to amass a whole collection of them over the years! I do find writing in them extremely therapeutic, as long as I don’t return to what I have written afterwards…

    1. I think this has been the longest I’ve stuck with it, but I’ve had several over the years. Looking back at old ones is uncomfortable to say the least. 🙂

        1. I sometimes read the last one, or flip back through now, but I found an old one from high school one day. WOW. Thank you for your comment btw.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this 🙂 And I think that you’re spot on with journalling being perfect for unloading all of those thoughts that wing around your head like pinballs, clogging up your energy and bringing you down. I used to keep a diary but haven’t written anything longhand for years (apart from scribbled novel notes), although I do love the feel of a new notebook and pen – the infinite possibilities.

    We spend so much time hooked into the world wide web. Taking time to do something that people have been doing for hundreds of years links us to our history and also our own inner peace. Thanks, Martin.

  3. Hi, I’ve enjoyed reading your post. I’ve been keeping a journal on and off since I was in Grade 5 back in 1980. I have re-read them over the years,(well some of them) and have been intrigued by the details I’ve captured at times that I’d forgotten. There is certainly plenty of material there but like many journals, a lot of padding.
    I wrote a post a few months ago about how Anne Frank influenced my journalling. Like so many teenaged girls, I called my diary Anne and in my head, was writing and talking to her.
    Here’s the link:
    and a few other posts about her follow on from that.
    I have also been doing The Artists’ Way and that puts a lot of emphasis on journalling and getting the over-thinking down on paper to release your creativity. It’s well worth looking into.
    Since I’ve been blogging, my journalling has cut back a lot as I thought I was putting that into the blog. However, I am feeling the need to pick up the priovate journaling again as I don’t express my private thoughts and feelings, especially about the negative stuff that happpens, and I need that outlet to vent. xx Rowena

    1. It’s totally worth taking back up. Thanks for the post, btw. I picked it up again because of a lot of personal stuff. At first I thought I’d dump it after a month like all of the previous ones, but I forced myself to finish that first book, and now it’s second nature. I actually just finished an entry before I hopped online. I agree with the need to vent and having a private place to put those thoughts, specially the things that you don’t want associated with your brand.

I love comments, feel free to leave one :)