It’s probably a bit sad to admit that your BFF is an inanimate object, but hey, welcome to the solitary life of a writer.
I recently read this article on Lifehacker, Why You Should Keep a Journal (and How to Start Yours). I’ve been journaling on and off for more than 10 years, and keeping a regular journal for two years and counting, but this article reminded me of why I do it. For example:
- It’s good for your emotional well-being and mental health. Few people have someone they can spew all their thoughts and feelings to at all hours of the day and night. A journal can be invaluable in times of pain and confusion. Sometimes writing everything down helps you find some peace or figure out what to do in a situation.
- It helps you brainstorm and develop ideas. For me, this applies mainly to my attempts at writing fiction or poetry, but for you it could be about your job, a DIY project, or anything you happen to be doing.
- It acts as a memory trigger and learning experience. If you record how you feel, what you observe, and events that occur while they’re fresh in your mind, you can revisit your journal at a later date. You can notice patterns that weren’t apparent at the time, or reflect on changes.
I spend a lot of time at a computer for work and play, and as a child of the digital age, I can’t remember ever being without access to a computer in my home. But I do often find it cathartic putting pen to paper, so my journals are handwritten in the scrawling, bastardised version of Victorian Modern Cursive that I’ve developed over the years. You can buy specific journal notebooks, with Moleskine and Rhodia carrying a certain romanticism for writers. Perhaps even couple it with a quill or fountain pen if you want to feel like your favourite legendary author.
I personally just use Spirax A6 hard cover spiral notebooks and a ballpoint pen, which I like to clip into the spiral binding so I’m not scrambling around for something to write with. Plus they’re a good size for my handbag, they don’t get dog-eared and damaged too easily, and you don’t need a desk to lean on to write in them.
Other people may, of course, find their smartphones or tablets far more useful for journaling. These days it appears more socially acceptable to be doing something on a mobile device than it is to simply take out a notebook and start writing while you’re in the company of others. People who know me well understand now, I hope, that I’m not deliberately being antisocial when I suddenly start journaling while I’m sitting in a cafe, bar, park, on a train, or at the dinner table… I’m just trying to capture the moment or record a sudden thought the way a photographer or sketch artist might.
Nevertheless, I did include this dedication in my poetry chapbook Words I’ll Never Say, just in case:
This chapbook is dedicated to the amazing friends who let me scribble away in my notebooks at inappropriate times. You know who you are.
Do you keep a journal?