Sunday, August 13, 2017

How to Start a Daily Journal Practice

I have written in a journal since I was a young girl.  I love the feeling of my favorite pen in my hand and the way it glides across paper.  And there is just something about the slow pace of hand-writing in a book that really opens up my mind and allows ideas, goals, dreams, and lots of other juicy stuff come forward.  It fills my cup.  Plus, I heard somewhere a long time ago: our minds are not meant for remembering, they are meant for creating.  I love that, and journaling really allows me to focus more on creating rather than trying to remember all of the ten thousand things I need to get done/think about/put on my to do list.

I will use just about any notebook for a journal, from a spiral notebook I pick up in the office supply section to a Moleskin to a pretty hardcover journal I might find on vacation in a groovy little shop.  When I have time and am feeling my creative mojo is present, I love to create my own journals.

Whatever journal I'm using doesn't really matter.  It's about the writing, the ritual.  My favorite time to write is in the morning.  I usually get up around 5am then make myself a cup of coffee.  I sit in my favorite chair under a quilt with my journal and my favorite pen and just start writing.  Some mornings the writing just flows, sometimes I just start putting words and sentences on paper - sort of a stream of consciousness - until cohesive thoughts start to come forward.  

It's as much about the ritual as it is about the writing.  It's my favorite way to start the day.  Sometimes I just purge on the page, sometimes I'll create a detailed to do list.  Other times I will have an idea that's been pinging around in my head that I need to give some life to or I'll work out a problem I'm having with a project that isn't quite coming together.  Some days it's my meditation.  Writing in my journal every morning clears my head so that I'm ready to take on whatever the day is about to bring to me.

If you've started a journal practice, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  If you've been considering the start of a personal journal practice, it's super easy to get started.  You only need a few tools and some quiet time to yourself.

My Favorite Tools for Journaling

First and foremost is my journaling space.  

I have a favorite chair where I like to write.  For me, journaling is about getting comfortable, so I sit in a big armchair under a quilt rather than at my desk.  You may be more comfortable at a desk or table.  The important thing is to find your space, a space that inspires you.  

During the summer, I open all the windows to let the fresh air in and so I can hear the fountain that is in our garden.  During the winter months, I light a candle and only turn on the lamp next to my chair so the room stays cozy.

Secondly, you need quiet time when you'll have no interruptions.  This is why I get up at 5am.  I'm the only one up, the day is not quite dawning.  The world is quiet.  This allows me to really focus, to be still and hear what is going on for me, what needs to come out of my head and onto the pages.

Finally, there are the actual writing tools.

My pen is not fancy, it's a Uni-ball Vision Fine Point in black and I lovelovelove it.  It writes very smoothly and dries quickly on the paper so smudging is not a problem.  If you don't have a favorite pen yet, give it a try.  Give lots of pens a try.  You might prefer a fountain pen, or a fine-tip Sharpie, or a gel pen - maybe even a pencil.  The key is to find a writing implement that feels good in your hand and writes nicely.

Selecting a journal is a lot of fun.  I have a stash of empty journals in a basket on my desk.  Some of them I've purchased, some of them I've made myself.  When I fill one up, I just start another.  I like a smaller size, roughly 6" x 9", rather than an 8.5" x 11" size.  I like to be able to throw it in my bag so I have a journal when I'm in a coffee house or the waiting room of my dentist's office.  Oscar Wilde said, "I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read on the train."  Don't you just love that?

So, there you have it.  Three steps to beginning a daily journal practice:
     1) Find a cozy spot and a quiet time of day
     2) Try lots of pens until you land on a favorite
     3) Purchase or create a journal that you will love writing in each day

Oh, and one more step:  enjoy this gift to yourself.  Incorporate it into your day as a time to recharge, rejuvenate, relax.  Cheers.

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