Thursday, 17 September 2009

Keeping Journals

Jamie at Variety Pages suggested doing a post about journals. Since I am totally journal obsessed person, I volunteered rather eagerly. Technically, there is a difference between a diary and a journal. A diary is a day to day recording of one's life. More like an accounting ledger. A journal is suppsoed to be a recording of one's thoughts, feelings and reflections. My own journals are a combination of both, so here when I use the term "Journal", I mean a combination of both factual events, as well as reflection on those events. Historically, journals were a popular thing. It is very common to find that a lot of educated men and women kept journals. But today, it is no longer the case. In my personal life, I don't know a single person who keeps a journal. That in my opinion is a real shame. We may think our life is not exciting or fascinating, but neither was Virginia Woolf's in her own time, or Cesar's in his own time (hey, battles were an everyday event. There was nothing different about them). Besides, the purpose isn't just to record, but to analyse, and to free oneself from one's own preconceptions. When you journal, you are making memories. For yourself, if you choose to keep your journal private. Memories change with experience. As we grow as people, the things we remember, shift in perspective. But if you have it written down in black and white, then you know exactly how you felt when you were sixteen, and if today is any different. Do we have to understand it? Of course, we don't. But we are writers. Writers get into characters' heads. We write about people. We feel them. And you know what - the scariest thing of all is to get inside one's own head, to raise questions that you do not know the answers to. Journaling with honesty takes courage. I have been keeping journals regularly since 2002. I know that I will always keep regular journals, because I very much regret not keeping them when I was younger. As of today I have: A regular journal: I write in this almost every day, or fairly regularly. This is where whatever's happening in life goes, and various thoughts, goals etc. Anything I want to. I also work on improving my journaling techniques. My first couple of journals were more or less diaries, or full of miserable rants. Then as I read over them, I learnt that I needed to focus on happy things too. Now, I am working on learning to make my journals more visually attractive by adding non-written stuff (semi-art journaling) into it. I am still working on it, because by nature, I like neat, tidy writing. A Dream Journal: I only write in this one when I have dreams that stick in my mind. My dreams are by no means enlightening thunder bolts. They are weird, and mixture of usually more than one country. But I write them anyway. Tarot Journal: This is also irregular one. I write in this when I pick up a tarot deck. This is actually a mixture of tarot reading, as well as creative-writing prompt, because sometimes I use Tarot Cards as writing prompts. Travel Journals: Every time I go away somewhere, I write a travel journal. This is another area where I am working on improving my skill. Writing Journal: This is every-day writer's journal, which I started keeping only recently. Here, just misc. writing stuff. So these are the journals, and they do not include all the scribble pads and post-its I may use. Some pictures of my journals:





  1. Wow - that's a lot of journals! I was going to take a photo of mine, but ran out of time. Maybe I'll add one later. I think I have four on the shelves at the moment. I've gotten rid of several from my younger days - they were filled with emotional angst, mostly over guys and since my husband has a propensity for reading my journals, I didn't want them around for him to read. Cowardly, I know, but there are some things it serves no purpose for him to know. ;-)

    You make a good point about no one's life being interesting to them as they live it. I always think no one would ever want to read *my* journals, because my life is so mundane. But you're right...mundane ages to interesting eventually.

    As for getting in our own heads - when I read back through my journals, it surprised me how pervasive the desire to write was through everything that I wrote in there. It was a constant thread even when I wasn't writing a thing, and to be honest, I don't think I realized just how strong my desire to be a writer really was/is. Interesting, and as you said, scary.

    Thanks for such an insightful post - you and C have definitely convinced me to start journaling again. :-)

  2. Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for your comment, and I am glad to have played a part in encouraging you to keep journals again. I do think it's a lost art that we should treasure (hand-written journals of course). Nothing against digital journals, but it's just not the same. By not writing in your hand, you keep back a part of your personality.

  3. Fabulous! Inspiring insight - now I feel like going out and buying one of those gorgeous,chunky, travel journals you've got pictured there.

  4. TerryLynn,

    I totally love buying journals. Up until now, I would take ages searching for the right one. After using moleskine, I've kind of fallen in love with them, so currently I am buying those, though still open to buying any perfect ones I come across.

  5. I agree with Jamie, that's a lot of journals! And to think I was having trouble just keeping one up to date! :-)

    I like your definition of the difference between a journal and a diary - it appears that while I keep a journal, my sister keeps a diary.

    I also really like the idea of a Tarot journal. I read the cards as well (Runes too) but I never thought about recording my results before. What a good idea!

    Jamie, I'm glad Lost and I were able to bring you over to the dark side. :-)