The hows and whys of keeping a journal

I’ve been treading water lately.

It happens to everyone; getting wrapped up in the everyday tasks and facts of life, living more in the future or the past than in the present. Really losing sight of what you want and how to get there.

What to do to get on track

I thought I’d share what I’ve been learning lately about staying in the present moment – and why it doesn’t work for me.

You know what does?

Keeping a journal.

The unexamined life isn’t worth living. – Socrates.

Mindfulness isn’t for everyone. It’s okay if you don’t ‘get’ it. Believe me, I’ve tried all the tips and tricks – meditation, body scanning, all that stuff to keep me in the moment.

And yeah it works for a while but I just don’t see it being sustainable as a long-term thing.

So instead of doing all that junk (although I still try to meditate from time to time), I’ve been keeping a journal.

Famous writers and creatives throughout history have been keeping journals to aid self discovery or even just work on their projects while they’re on the go. Mozart used to compose music in his journal while on his commute (okay so I made up that last part).

We’re talking about people like Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Frida Khalo, Anaïs Nin, Virginia Woolf, Kurt Cobain, Sylvia Plath.

One of Nick Cave’s journals that I read about lately is his handwritten dictionary. Really cool.

How to keep a journal

Keeping a journal is one way that I’ve been coming to terms with my past and with expectations for the future. It’s also useful for recording events, people, vignettes, snatches of conversation, illustrations, movie tickets…you name it, it’s in my notebook.

There’s a lot of different ways to keep a journal. People use lists, journal prompts, systems like filofaxes (yes they’re still a thing) and the bullet journal system.

I mean seriously, the only reason I’m on Pinterest is to gather together all my ideas for keeping journals.

Top tips for journal keeping

I’ve kept journals for years, but this is the first time I’ve actually sat down and tried to do something systematic with it.

  1. Try to journal often, once a day if you can manage it. The entries don’t need to be long. This is where the bullet journal system comes in handy. You just make a list of places you’ve been, things you saw, stuff that happened, etc., and you’re good to go. You can choose to elaborate on whatever you want when you have the time.
  2. Don’t get too rigid about it though. Keep it fun.
  3. Just write. If you’re not sure what to write about try some of these.
  4. Or don’t write! My journals are full of collages, paintings, drawings, movie tickets and instax photos. Sometimes it’s easier to remember something if you have a pictorial aid!
  5. Don’t be afraid. I’ve had times in my life when my privacy has been invaded and people have read my journals without my permission. These episodes seriously put me off journaling for at least 8 years. My advice to you is…just do it. If you feel the need to carry your journal around with you everywhere so that nobody can read it, go ahead. Do whatever you have to do. Just keep on truckin’.

Here’s a look inside my current journal!

The end

Do you keep a journal? How are you finding it? What tips or techniques would you like to share? Let me know in the comments 😊