A Journal Mindset

The old and the new.

When I started college back in 2003, I was dropped off at the campus in the morning and took multiple buses to get home. I had a cell phone, but in those days, cell phones were primarily for calling; texting in a numpad was frustrating (even when you “got gud”) and made writing anything longer than brief messages just wasn’t a thing. For me, anyway.

So when I bought my first Moleskine notebook at the mall, the halfway point between school and home, I used that for my first serious journal; I still have that one tucked away in a box somewhere. And I loved the feel of that book, so much so that I’ve used Moleskine books for lots of different projects.

Six months ago, I started a new journal. And last night, I finished it. After six straight months of journaling, I can say… much as I’ve failed in the past at maintaining a journal, I’m all for it now.

On a whim at the end of August last year, I was looking through my empty notebook stash (which has, thankfully, dropped a bit over the years) and found my last small, unused, softcover Moleskine. Having not maintained a journal for more than a week over the past decade-plus, I needed a tool that would help my mental health.

Looking at the picture as I post this, I feel like I probably should’ve named it…

Initially, the goal was just to brain-dump what was keeping me up at night; finances, fears, generalized anxiety, problems of the day, whatever it was that had me shaking and unsteady. I’d write about some things I WANTED to see to cheer me up, like the ideal Game & Watch unit for me (Kirby-themed all the way, baby). And, I would let my thoughts run through my pen if something specific wouldn’t leave my head, like family issues or self-doubt, with the rant getting its own dedicated page.

If you think this is leading to some elaborate breakdown of “how to journal well/properly/effectively”, sorry, but I can’t say I know the first thing about journaling. It’s such an individual thing, I can’t imagine doing what so many different YouTube posters recommend or say is the “easy” way to get into things like plain-jane journaling, or bullet journals, or personalized planners. They try, too, and some of them are either “show you how great mine is” or “nobody will actually do this but it should get attention”. For that reason, along with my own “what works for me works for me” attitude towards it, I can only give one tiny piece of advice I’ve learned over the past six months. I think it’s about as important as any other advice I can share about anything else:

“Whatever keeps you writing is right for you.”

In my last book, the smaller one with the yokozuna sticker on it, I initially wrote in bullets. One bullet, one sentence. The goal? Fill the small page, or don’t. Write until you’re “done” for the night. My ideal time was roughly 10-15 minutes before bed, just sit down at my desk or the dining room table and “Think About” what to write. One page per day, whether it’s full or not, leave it all there and go to bed as clear (or at least as settled) as possible. Some pages were jammed with thoughts, and a couple… two sentences? Three? But they’re there. And that’s the part that matters. Not every day is the one that impacts your entire life. Some days are just… there. And that’s OK.

Complete with a pen holder for easy access.

This month, I’m going to try and gradually expand what my journal is. That’s why I’m using a “bullet journal” notebook my mother sent me some time ago (using it now, Mom!). I don’t know what it will look like at the end, but I know it begins just like the previous left off. What it may look like in the future, that’ll be fun to find out. And hopefully, it gives me some of the same solace my tiny book has helped create over the last six months.

Stand Tall and write on, friends. May your entries be as beautiful as you are!