Journals, past present future
Turtleheart asked in “Journaling Stuff” (link no longer active):
“Do you regularly keep any kind of personal journal, online or off? What works best for you?”
I started out journaling on looseleaf notebook paper, as a girl. Sometimes I bought colored paper or a spiral notebook for a change. Later I collected bound blank books to journal in, but I feel freer handwriting on plain lined yellow pads, because I don’t care if I scratch out or mess them up.
Handwriting seems to connect me with my inner self more effectively than typing, so I write at least my initial pages of the day on notepads — sometimes all my pages of the day. Later I may transcribe what I want to keep onto the laptop. But I keep my older handwritten journal pages in folders in a file cabinet, filed by year. The years I write more fiction, I write fewer journal pages. That isn’t a conscious decision, just how it seems to work out.
For years I’ve done a full three pages of morning pages, if not more, in the manner of Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. Sometimes I miss a day or maybe a few. Recently I took a planned break of a few weeks from all my journal writing, just to see how it felt, to feel how the pressure built in me to begin again. In a recent fit of frugality I save paper by limiting myself to two pages, the front and back of one sheet, whenever I can. For my fiction writing and blogging, once I get a flow started on paper I’m happy to switch to typing, which is a lot faster.
For many years I’ve kept dream journals, which I usually write as soon as I waken, before the dream slips out of my memory. This can be a frantic dance as I juggle my own need to jot down a few details to jog my memory later, with the dog’s need to get outside now. As I have time, I’m transcribing those to a digital format, so I can search through them easily. I’ve found so many patterns in my dreams, that I’m glad I’ve tracked them for so long. There are repeating themes, important personal insights, and even a few precognitive dreams.
I used to write more poetry, and I just came across the folder full of poems I wrote during my late teens and early twenties, some of which I’ll post here soon. Some of those years’ journals were lost, when a storage shed I kept them in leaked during a heavy rain. Now I wonder, why don’t I write much poetry anymore? I still do, but so seldom. Reading through that folder made me itch to write something fresh. But I also noticed how much poetry I wrote, as a girl, about whatever boy I was infatuated with at the time, and how flowery some of it was. I know I’ve always been a romantic, but . . . sheesh. You’ll have to be gentle with me if I post any of that here. I was so young, even for my chronological age at the time. Reading it to myself makes me feel as shy as I felt back then. Never fear, I’ll be picky about what I post, and I do intend to edit first.
I like to draw and paint, so I’ve experimented now and then with visual journaling, most recently with colored pencils on black paper, after reading The Mandala Healing Kit Workbook by Judith Cornell, Ph.D. Strictly amateur stuff. Uh, my mandalas I mean, not her book.
I still have some of those pretty blank books, so not to waste them I use them to record special events, or as gratitude journals, which I’ve found especially healing to keep when I get into a period of sadness. I’m using one to track my mantra practice, and I may hand copy some of my favorite older poems into one, as a personal keepsake. Perhaps some of the more memorable dreams as well.