Sep 10, 2014

On Journals and Journaling . . .

Do you keep a journal or a diary?

When I hear the word "diary" I think of one of those little pink notebooks you need a key to open, where teenaged girls pour their hearts out about what a heartthrob Bobby is. A journal has a much more grown up sound to it, don't you think?

According to my friend Dolly Garland, who's an authority on journaling, a diary is a report of what has happened during the day - where you ate, who you met, what you did - while a journal is of a more personal nature and includes thoughts and feelings and dreams.

So while my two sisters and I keep what we call journals, theirs are actually diaries because all they really do is list what they've been doing, kind of like a laundry list, while mine is a journal because I record what I've been doing, but also what I'm thinking, how it made me feel, and even the occasional rant or dream. Maybe that's why I'm the writer and they're not.

Hey! Here's a thought. If people who create art are artists, and people who play the piano are pianists, does this mean because I keep a journal I'm a journalist? LOL Sorry, I just couldn't resist. :-)

I've kept a journal for many years - okay, you know what I mean, not just one, but a series of them. Here's a picture of just a few of them:

The journal on the far right is my current one, and the purple one beside it is my favourite - you probably can't see by the photo but it's covered with quotations from Edgar Allen Poe. And the one with the peacock on it is the one I just finished using up. This has never happened to me before. Usually I use up one journal a year, and often there are a few (sometimes many) pages left in it at the end. Guess I've had a lot more to say this year. ;-)

As you can see, I like my journals to be pretty. That's pretty much my only criteria for one these days. Plus I seem to favour the oversized ones to the normal ones and they have to have lined paper in them. Some people prefer moleskin journals, some those rigid hard black ones with the word journal emblazoned across them in gold letters, and others just use a spiral bound notebook. As well, some people carry their journals with them wherever they go, some people have a special shelf for them and a special pen to write with, and some hide them away with the care a pirate has for his treasure.

I pretty much leave mine wherever I was when I was last writing in it (usually every other day or so) and as long as the pen has black ink I'm not all that picky. I used to think using a fountain pen to write in a leather-bound journal was utterly romantic, but leather-bound journals are expensive and the ink from any fountain pen I've ever used fades alarmingly over the years, not to mention it washes away pretty easily.

I used to keep several journals - one to write my dreams in, one for writing, one that was more like a diary - but I found it too hard to keep up with them all so now everything goes in just the one journal. And of course me being me, you know there are still exceptions to that.

See that little notebook looking journal with my initial on it? That was actually a failed experiment. The idea was to write one sentence a day for 365 days . . . or until the pages in the book were used up, whichever came first. For the first 20-25 days I dutifully wrote the first sentence that popped into my head, then I began to falter as it became harder to come up with a single sentence, and by day 40 I'd pretty much abandoned the project.

People journal for a variety of reasons. Maybe they're like me, owning a terrible memory, and just want to leave behind a record of their lives. I know one person who journalled her way through depression - a journal is a great way to have your say when there's no one around to listen. Perhaps you're facing a challenge and need an outlet for your hopes and fears. Maybe you're taking a trip; a journal can be a great way to tell about not just the places you've seen, but the way they made you feel, the dreams they inspired. And what about dreams? Sometimes dreams can give us an important insight to what's going on inside our heads. Why not write them down in a journal?

If you've ever thought of keeping a journal, I highly recommend it. You can learn a lot about yourself by journaling. And whether you keep a journal or are just thinking about keeping a journal, I highly recommend you check out Dolly's website, Kaizen Journaling. She offers a course in journaling, coaching, and a Beginner's Guide to get you started.


Dolly said...

Love the Paperblanks Poe Journal. It's gorgeous. They are all pretty actually. I like pretty journals too, though I also like simplicity of moleskine.

Like you, I like the idea of journaling with fountain pens, but to be honest, on most pages they just don't work well. But we can enjoy the romance of the thought anyway.

Great article, Carol - and while journaling doesn't make you a journalist (wouldn't it be great, if it did?), it certainly makes you a journal keeper, which is awesome too.

C R Ward said...

Thanks Dolly! :-)