One of my favourite things to do when celebrating major life events is to go to Paperchase and buy a new journal. When I was younger I used to try and keep day by day diaries, on January 1st of every year I would begin a new diary and go on to document everything from what I ate to how I felt for about a month until February when I got bored and resolved to try again next year. My journalling, like me, has evolved quite a bit and rather than writing diary entries out of routine or the belief that if I forget what exactly I had for breakfast on November 8th 2009 things will fall apart, I journal to get things off my chest. On the first page of my old journal I wrote a Lord Byron quote that I felt best summarised my reasoning behind journalling “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad” There is something incredibly cathartic about emptying out your thoughts and worries into a journal, I’m not much of an exerciser (though I should really be more active) and I made the conscious decision to keep my verbal rants and complaints to a minimum, but in my journal, my pretty colourful booklike journal that makes me feel as if whatever I’m writing is deeply profound and wise, I am free to talk about whatever I want. However, there are a few rules I commit myself to with each journal, ones I wanted to share.
Never ever ever rip out a page, unless of course you HAVE to
Usually the journals I buy are booklike bound notebooks with around 200 sheets which means that if I rip out one page the binding of the journal loosens or somewhere else there will be half a sheet about to fall out. I am of the belief that there is rarely a good reason to rip out a journal page, if it’s embarrassing it only makes for better future reading, if it’s messy it just reminds you that imperfection is inevitable and that a journal like a mind is not always pristine and organised.
Focus on you how you’re feeling and what you did as opposed to the other people in the situation
I hardly write any juicy gossip in my journals nor do I go into great detail about what exactly I’m talking about, that’s partly due to the fact that I worry that somebody else might read it and know too much about a situation that could involve other people, but mostly because I find the whole task of describing events beyond surface level tedious and for the most part unhelpful. A big reason as to why I emphasise the role of my journal as a journal rather than a diary is because I believe that journals are for capturing the inner workings of your mind as opposed to preserving details that may or may not effect the greater picture of your life. I don’t write in my journal every day, some months I might only write two entries, but when I do it’s because some event, some idea, some person has triggered some sort of reaction that has either buried itself in my mind or made me feel something that I might not have otherwise. I think for me, approaching journalling in this way pushes me to pay greater attention to how I’m feeling as opposed to what happened. Rather than explaining the five W’s of the situation I examine my own self, what I did, how that made me feel and maybe more importantly, attempt to understand the why, it’s like free therapy.
If you don’t want to write in your journal, don’t write in your journal
This rule goes hand in hand with the one I mentioned above, for me journaling is about letting out what is already in my mind and trying to understand that, not writing for the sake of writing alone and thought I do believe it’s important to write in order to become a better writer, my journal, my love, is not the place for that.
Even if I write the entry in a moving vehicle, even if it’s 3am and I’m running on the bare minimum amount of sleep, even if I just want to write a list of things that have annoyed me that day, the appearance of each page matters. I believe in this rule to the point where I will make time every couple of weeks to go through my journal and make sure each entry has a date, title and has been adorned with colour appropriately, after all what’s the point of journalling if you’re older self can’t look back and understand?