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What I Wish I Had Known When I Started Journaling

If I knew then what I know now, what would I tell my past self about journaling, pen buying, and all the rest?

  • Start sooner. I didn’t start journaling on any regular basis until my 30’s. A lot of interesting years got missed!

  • Less angsturbating! Reading about my worries is interesting for a sentence or two. More is boring to read and hasn’t helped me solve anything.

  • Immediately write something any notebook I buy, to render it usable. No book that was saved for a special purpose turned out better than the others. The precious ones tend to not be worth the wait.

  • Buy fewer notebooks. Skip the stockpile. Shop, caress, investigate, but buy only when there’s a need. Of course, one needs to have a spare notebook in house.

  • Spend less money on pens. All the best writers I have were less than $200 and the ones I most reach for cost a lot less than that. Save that money for interesting things to do, conferences, etc.

  • Worry less about using pencil or water soluble ink. It’s all good. I haven’t ever lost an entry to water or malicious erasure, and the few that have been smeared (but still readable) add a bit of drama. It’s fine to think about permanence, I just can’t let it keep me from writing when I should.

  • Start the kids journaling early. No, earlier. Compared to the cost of medicine, toys, clothes and food, the cost of their notebooks is microscopic.

  • Start a journal for each kid when they’re conceived, keep it for them. Keep it up during their young lives with entries about them during childhood, and give it to them when they enter high school.

  • Write a lot less drivel about my stuff, or how I disliked this or that about my life. A few sentences here and there is more than enough.

  • Focus on the good stuff. Really, most importantly, this means the good side of whatever is happening. There is almost always a good side.

  • Draw a lot more.

  • Use less of the pocket Moleskines. When I moved to larger books, I wrote more, more valuable stuff, and I enjoy looking through those larger books much more.

  • Write more about what was going on in my life. Worry less about the quality of prose, worry more about capturing what happened. I have an entire trip to Europe that had barely a few sentences.

  • Write less. On a good day, when things went well but all I did was go to work, and nothing happened, it is ok NOT TO WRITE. When I just feel like writing but I don’t really have anything to say, the result belongs on a legal pad, not my journal.

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