Bucking the digital domination, paper journals have been making a strong comeback. A scroll through Pinterest features awe-inspiring journal photos that can discourage the amateur (or anyone who doesn’t have 2 hours each day to devote solely to journaling). Want to jump in to journaling but aren’t sure where to begin? Try these easy ideas to start a journal today:
Use a Good Notebook
You don’t have to spend big money on a swanky journal from the get-go. In fact, some of my favorites have been from the discount bin at bookstores or TJ Maxx. The point is to use it, not stare at the cover, so looks are secondary to function. Some people even use the cheap spiral notebooks for sale for 20 cents during back to school specials, while others swear that investing a little more cash will ensure that you don’t let it collect dust on your nightstand. Whatever works for you is the right notebook. A word of caution, here, though: if you want to be able to go back and read your entries for years to come, you need to get a good enough notebook to last. It doesn’t have to be archival quality, but do look for one with acid-free paper. My grandmother’s journal is difficult to read in places due to the quality of the materials. You may have a nosy granddaughter like me one day, so use good enough paper to hold your words for a long time. I am currently using the uber-popular (for good reason!) Leuchtturm 1917.
Use the Right Pen
Now, pens, on the other hand, are crucial. I started out using a Pentel Energel (Hard to find at the moment. If someone asks to borrow a pen and it’s the only one I’m carrying, I quickly change the subject.) but when I switched to the Leuchtturm I had more bleed-through than I wanted. Then Mr. Smith surprised me with a fountain pen one Christmas, and it’s my go-to for daily entries. If I need to do any grid lining or spread set-up, I have a cheap set of sharpie pens to handle to utilitarian jobs. All of these have acid-free ink. That’s critical. If you can look without being intimidated, then check out the amazing things Kara Benz and Tiny Ray of Sunshine are doing with more specialized pens and inks. Incredible!
Use a Template
This is what will allow you to keep the habit going. You need to quickly jot down an entry in under five minutes. No guesswork when you open the notebook, just the ability to rapidly record info. In next week’s post, I’ll list some of the most popular types of journals and some templates that are unique to each type. But for now, decide what your goal is for journaling in the first place. Is it to record daily events? Maybe a simple list is the best format for you. Is it to leave the gift of your wisdom to your grandchildren? Try to use a prompt (and a timer!) each day. If you want to improve your productivity, jot down your daily goal and a motivational quote. Try a different method each week until you find a template that you really enjoy and that awakens your inner scribe!
You’re going to miss some days. Forgive yourself now, at the beginning, and give yourself permission to pick up where you’re at, instead of where you left off. I know. The perfectionism gets anxious. It tells us we’re literally throwing days away! Take a deep breath, call out perfectionism for the troll it is, and put down a couple of lines for today. Remember your purpose for starting a journal. Was that purpose to be subjected to guilt-trips for missing days? Then don’t let it get there. Keeping a written record has many benefits, and you may soon find yourself looking forward to the ritual. If you’re not sure how to begin, use grace and jump in where you are right now. It’s never too late to start a journal. Do you already have a journal? What are your favorite notebooks and pens?
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