Journaling is the new it girl.
Yeah, I know that sounds crazy when you read it, but I am for realz here. It’s almost like some super secret plot hatched by Moleskine and Crayola got picked up by Leuchtturm and Arteza and they decided to run full tilt with the idea. So now everyone’s got a journal or a journal system or some kind of means of writing things down on paper with a pen or a few of them.
There’s nothing particularly new about journaling, other than assigning it a different name. It is, essentially, the same thing you did as a kid when you got a new diary – at least until you lost the key and couldn’t open it to write anything else for months, when the key mysteriously reappeared and you could pretty much be sure your little brother had been sneaking peaks at it when you weren’t looking… since there’s no way your parents would do such a thing, right?
Why do I say there’s a secret art to it?
Honestly, I’m not really sure there is any kind of art to it, outside of coming up with more ways to convince people to buy products and use them for at least awhile. But then again, I am all for anything at all that contributes to people learning how to write, encouraging people to write – no matter how silly what they are writing may be, and hooking them into writing a little bit on a regular basis (if not more on a more regular basis).
Before I’m hung for a witch since I’ve said I don’t really think there’s any kind of art to it, much less a secret one, do go back and re-read the part where I said I’m all for journaling in pretty much any form or format, ok? I believe with all my heart that we absolutely must get literacy back into vogue, along with making intelligence popular again, otherwise the whole planet is going to fall off the edge of the flat earth at any moment.
The Sharks vs The Jets? Oh yeah.
I am moderately amused by the way that journalers (or are they journalists, even though they aren’t actually reporting on anything to anyone else?) are split into two camps – those that could be termed ‘minimalist’ and those that could be termed ‘artistic’. I’m going to stick with these two labels since they should offend no one, and perhaps be considered complementary to the folks in each camp.
If you’re already journaling and you use one of the popular systems – BuJo, Simple Elephant, Happiness Planner, GoGirl, Clever Fox, my god the list just goes on and on and on – then you can likely stop reading at the moment, consider yourself either an artistic journalist or a minimalist journaler, and go back to making bullet points in your A5 bound dot printed pages.
What’s the point already?
If you’ve never been into journaling, then you may not see any reason to do it. At all. I can go with that, I am the type that cycles through life, sometimes wanting to write stuff down and sometimes wanting to forget that I know how to hold a pen. For me, I’m usually more into writing it all down and dissecting it later when it’s not going well… when I’m on the manic side of having a great time with my life, I’m way too busy to keep track of what’s happening when and where (unless it’s sailing related, and even that gets pushed to the back burner as far as record keeping these days), which actually means that I probably miss a lot of signs that things are on the downswing.
I do believe that life is cyclical, and I feel that we make the same moves (and the same mistakes) again and again, sometimes without even realizing it. If you follow my blog, you know I’m all about sailboat racing, and I’m pretty good at it. I can do any job on the boat, but I’m happiest in the back these days, either driving or calling tactics (being the boss of the driver lol) and I like to joke that I’m a one trick pony when it comes to starting a race, since I have the same opinion of where and how to start about 99% of the time. But hey, it’s a numbers game, and that particular move pays off way more often than not, so I’ll take my odds and pick up my trophies, ok?
How do you decide what kind of journal you want to keep?
There are a couple of ways you can go about it, in my mind. First way is to grab a legal pad, start writing stuff down, and see what your natural tendencies are with it. I’ve “journaled” this way for years, and my particular method is to simple go in chronological order through a couple of pads at any given time. It’s kind of weird, now that I think about it, that I don’t just use the same notepad, but I don’t. I can’t even explain how I decide what goes on which notepad either. Did I mention I have probably twenty years worth of legal pads boxed up in my garage? Just in case I need them, they’re packed in with the random disconnected old hard drives that go back to the late 90s…
The second way you can start journaling is to buy into a system. Right now there are a ton of systems, lots of variety, plenty of options, and you can be as minimalist or as artistic as you like with it. The reason I call this the second way is that it isn’t a good idea to stress yourself out even more over whether or not you keep a journal regularly (and some of these bullet journal type systems will do just that if you can’t religiously maintain all the spreads) or whether you just write down what hits you when the mood strikes, or maybe if you use your journal as more of a planner than a recorder sort of option.
The most important thing here is that if you are going to start keeping a journal, that you get an actual dedicated space to write and doodle and do whatever else you want with it. I’m as much of a mind mapping kind of girl as I am a straight up diarist or planner, so I like to have lots of options. I’m working on a version of this that I’m going to sell as a download, and I’ll let you know when it’s ready to go. I’m also a procrastinator, so don’t hold your breath while you’re waiting…
Parting words on this topic – journaling is good, feeling like you have to journal is bad. Draw and doodle if you like, keep it clean and tidy if you don’t.