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When Do You End Your Journal?

I was catching up on putting volume numbers on my last few books, and I was thinking that my current BookFactory blank book has about 49 pages left in it. It’s been a great book, is in great shape, and has held up better than any other book I’ve owned. Time to decide what to use next. I’m pretty sure I would like to use another of these, so I ordered a new one to replace my current book when it is full.

I write in a book until I either fill it up or decide to use another one for a while. When a book is full, I give it a volume number and on the shelf it goes and I start the next one. I’ve been attracted to thicker books because they hold more stuff, I’ve always liked the idea of having more history with me.

The downside of this approach is that thicker books aren’t as comfy to write in, and I don’t really know when the book will be full until it nearly is. Sometimes that’s been at home, sometimes it’s been very close to when we’re away. I’d prefer it to be in the middle of a long boring period.

Here’s the problem though – I will fill the current book sometime around the end of summer if I keep going at my current rate. A time when we have a large trip planned. I’d prefer not to be leaving on the trip with a journal with 5 pages left in it. Now, there’s never a good time to finish one book and start a new one but it got me thinking – why not align it to the end of the year? Or Tax day? Or my birthday? Or whatever?

It would mean using a thinner book. It would mean leaving perhaps a lot of pages unused in years when I don’t write as much. A nice row of books numbered by year on the shelf would be pretty cool.

Is anyone doing it this way? How’s it working for you?

3 comments… add one
  • Mari June 12, 2015, 9:45 am

    Thanks for this posting; quite thought-provoking.
    I’ve kept journals off and on for 35 years (I’m ever so grateful to my sister for getting me started by giving me the gift of two very nice matching notebooks) and have had cause to look back through them many times for specific information I needed for personal or professional reasons, or just to see where I’ve been, For me the important thing has been to keep them chronological; I don’t feel the need to stop at any particular time of the year. I’ve rarely filled them to the very last page, preferring to leave a few blank pages for indexing or notations. They’re mostly in the range of 5×7 or 6×9 inches, with different paper, covers, and ruling — whatever I’m given or catches my fancy; but always pleasing to the eye, hand, or both.
    I keep travel journals separately. I select a smallish notebook that will fit in whatever bag or pocket I’m sure to have with me — 4×6 or 5×7 or thereabouts, usually. I need pirtability; if I wait until evening to write things down, I’ll either be too tired to write at all or will have already forgotten something that caught my interest during the day. I also like to affix things into these notebooks — receipts, labels, ticket stubs, cards — so they can be rather “mixed-media” (i.e. messy) and fun to leaf through years later. These journals are shelved near but separate from the everyday notebooks and I look through then frequenly, to relive my trips or to get information to share with others who are traveling to the same place.
    I find my journaling habit evolves constantly, however. How often I write and what I write about is in flux, depending on what my thinking is and how fast/slowly my life is moving at a given time. Thus, as I look back through the years of notes, I find that often more is revealed about my state of mind by the information that is lacking than by what’s there. Sometimes, it’s in the interstices that we find what we really need to know.

    • Steve Duncan June 14, 2015, 6:28 am

      Hi Mari – Thanks for the comment!

      For your travel journals, do you keep a separate journal for each trip?

  • Mari June 21, 2015, 10:30 am

    Sorry for my delay in replying.

    My usual MO was to keep a separate journal for every trip (most of my vacations last between 1 & 2 weeks). However, it’s difficult to predict how much one will be writing; I now possess quite a few barely-half-filled journals. So for my last two trips I used the same notebook and that, miraculously, worked. (I don’t plan to push my luck.)

    I’m toying, however, with a new system which I’ll implement on my next trip: I’ve made a stapled notebook using good-quality copy paper, using a concert program for a cover. I’ve accumulated quite a few of these over the years and am reluctant to discard them, as they remind me of so many good performers whose work I’ve enjoyed. These programs are usually made of light, letter-size card stock folded in half, rarely more than two sheets. I added to one of them 10 sheets of paper, thus making a 40-page booklet, 5.5 x 8.5 inches. One of these should suffice for a 1-week trip, but they’re light enough that I can take a couple of extras, just in case.
    I now have another reason to look forward to my next trip, and I can save my finer notebooks for home journaling.

    (For the next notebook I make, I’ll be experimenting with bundling in wax envelopes for ticket stubs, small metro maps and such, using the envelopes you get at the PO when you buy stamps, which I know I’ll have to trim to size. We’ll see how that works. If this system proves worthy, my next investment will be a long-armed stapler, which will make the binding sooo much easier.)

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