Apart from being a repository for all the things that interest and inspire me, journalling gives me a place to organize my daily thoughts and to take note of impromptu ideas that would normally have been forgotten in a split second. What started out many years ago as an avenue to experiment and grow creatively, quickly turned into a treasure trove of memories my family and I will hold dear for years to come. One of the biggest joys I get from journaling is going through those pages with my kids and seeing their eyes light up as they remember an event as if it were yesterday. If you’re keen on giving journalling a go, here are some tips to get those creative juices flowing!
1 Choose Your Tools Carefully
In any journaling endeavour, your most important tools will be your notebook and pen. While any plain notebook will suffice, there are a few details you may want to consider when choosing the right one for you.
Pick a notebook size you can easily carry around in your bag. On the days you want to journal on the go, you’ll be glad you took this into consideration, as over time, you’ll find that your journal has quite literally grown with you. There’ll be occasions when you don’t have your journal on hand. Jot down short notes on whatever you can find (receipts, scrap paper, etc) or add it into your phone’s note-taking app to refer back to later when you get the chance.
If you want your journals to last, select ones made with acid-free paper. Strong acids used in modern paper production cause the paper to easily break down. Most decent bookstores nowadays carry a good selection of bound notebooks containing acid-free pages that will stand up to the test of time. Plus, the processes used in manufacturing acid-free paper are more environmentally friendly, producing less contaminant by-products compared to the general versions.
Whichever notebook you commit to, it should be one that inspires you to continue filling its pages, as it will be your loyal companion throughout your journalling journey.
2 Handwrite your entries
There is something about putting pen to paper that creates an emotional connection to what you are writing. Everybody’s handwriting is different. When used together; big and small sentences, curly and straight strokes all work together to reflect emotions in a very intimate way.
Digitally typed text is also typically void of corrections and edits done when adjusting the text. Keeping this visible opens up a window to your thoughts; giving the reader a much closer connection with you and your emotional state at the time of writing.
Did you know? The physical act of writing with a pen and paper forces the brain to multitask in ways that digitally typing text does not. Your brain has to simultaneously recall letters and words you write, decide on what to write, while at the same time, instruct your hand to put those words down on paper. Many studies have shown the exercise of writing to be an excellent mode of keeping your brain active in the long term, so get writing!
3 Highlight the most impactful events
In the early days of starting a journal, you may be all too eager to document every single detail that happens throughout your day, but that could easily lead to a journalling burnout. Make a conscious decision to only highlight the most memorable events of your day or week and make them the focus of your journal entries.
Snippets of a conversation and mementos from a particular event or trip all help to make your entries more cohesive and interesting. With enough information put down, you’ll find re-reading your journal 10 years from now as enjoyable as reading the chapters of your favourite book, if not more.
4 Get snapping
Photos speak a thousand words and nothing describes a memory better than a well-captioned picture! With our cameras now ever ready to take high quality photos and the advent of compact personal photo printers, adding photos into our journal entries has never been easier.
Of course, you may end up with a hundred photos to choose from. This is where you’ll need to take some time to choose the ones that really convey the emotions and memories you’ll want to come back to in the future.
For best results and longevity, print your photos on high quality archival paper. Developed with long-lasting vibrancy in mind, these age with minimal yellowing and fading, making sure your efforts don’t go to waste.
5 Enjoy yourself
There are no rules in journalling. Most journal entries only see the light of day when in the presence of the author and those they choose to share it with. Write freely and without judgement and you’ll soon find your journal to be the gift that keeps giving back.
While I use my journal mainly as a memory keeper, it has become more than just a documentation of my life. In it is my creative playground, where trials and errors are made and improved upon. In this highly-digitized era of computers and smartphones, my journal is a welcome respite.
Whatever the reason that you choose to start a journal, allow yourself the freedom to get messy and make mistakes. Have fun! At the end of the day, your journal is a reflection of you at that point in your life, so make it as honest as possible, and the rewards will be well worth the effort.
“Keep a notebook. Travel with it. Sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.”
~ Jack London, 1903