Why Keep A Journal?

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Several years ago, I asked my son, Robert, a question that was puzzling me: Why do you keep a journal, when you do everything from your cell  phone and laptop?  In high school, college and beyond Robert kept in touch and communicated  via his cell phone, Facebook page, Skype and email. But  he also  continued to write in his journal. His journal was a blank Forum with a “Leonardo” cover. He  found it when he  was working as  a stockroom boy at Exaclair during high school. leonardo-thedp

That old Nostalgie has been with him from junior year in high school, through college in  Oregon, law school in  New York, and  travels and living stints  in Italy, Greece, England, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and  Japan.   He must have filled six or several books since then. I have offered him other types of notebooks but he   sticks with his original.

Here’s what he told me in answer to my question: “A journal is personal.   I can play with margins, draw doodles, and make corrections in my own way.   When I go back and look at my marks on the page, I can even follow the train of thought that led to the changes. The paper is mine, and I can skip pages or even fold them. Words pour from the heart to the brain through the hand and pen onto the paper. This is the process of writing. Palm pilots and computers are excellent for logical order, planning and things, but not the free flowing emotion that is the centerpiece of a journal.”

What is your experience of keeping a journal?

7 thoughts on “Why Keep A Journal?

  1. My interest grew in more concentrated writing and the use of fountain pens because I have always felt that there are words that I want to put together in a more noble sense and fashion. Inspired by a minister friend who looked for words and phrases spoken by others just like a beachcomber would look for beautiful shells on the beach, I want to slow down the gush of words passing through my mind and focus on the rivulets that too quickly drain back into the expanse.

    Hopefully with a clean journal page, I can coax a fine ink through a smooth nib to assimilate a string of words about which one day I will say “I get it.”

  2. I’m relatively new to journalling, though I’ve kept ideas notebooks on and off for years. I made a conscious decision recently to write everything out longhand in a notebook to have a permanent record of my thoughts that I didn’t have to switch on and boot up to read. I tend to be quite a visual person and recognise things I’ve written on a page by their shape and form, whereas I forget what filenames correspond to in a list of computer files. It’s also nice to be able to indulge my rediscovered love of fountain pens in a journal.

  3. I started keeping a journal back in the 80’s because I was doing a lot of Bible study and things were starting to click in my head and I needed a place to put them.

    Unfortunately, my handwriting periodically was so bad, I’ve never been able to read my entries. I keep the books though.

    At one time I was so concerned about my ‘bad’ feelings hurting someone who might read the journals later on, I didn’t write any names and no descriptions (I thought). When I can read the entries, it’s real easy to know what/who had ticked me off.

    A few weeks ago, I bought a set of learning tools “Transform Your Life through Your Handwriting” by Vimala Rodgers. She has students keep a journal of their practice and enter also what happens in our lives. I can see changes in my thoughts, actions and in what the Universe if bringing me. This is a journal I will continue a long time.

    And my handwriting is becoming legible…most of the time. 🙂

  4. Beth, I have tried to get Robert interested in fountain pens, but no dice! He uses a pencil or a Pilot G2, so bleed-thru isn’t an issue for him the way it is for you and me.

    I keep a daily journal of my Lyme symptoms to track for myself and my doctor my rises, falls and plateaus. If there is ever a retreat, or conference or get-together of Lyme patients, it would be a bonding experience for us, I think, to pass around our journals for other people to write or sketch expressions of support and understanding, portraits of our illness, and what makes us feel better or less alone when we meditate on it.

  5. I keep a journal/notebook for the same reason cited by Robert. Computers are for serious business. SRS BSNS.
    Such as writing papers or drumming out assignments for class.
    Handwriting, however, is usually for fun–and the more classes you end up taking typed notes in, the more you will enjoy carrying around a notebook for writing in.

  6. I began after reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. She advised creative souls to write three morning pages to “prime the pump.” No self-censorship, no worrying about punctuation or spelling, just three pages of whatever is on your mind to get it OFF your mind and leave it free to create.

    I’m amazed how many mornings those three have turned into ten or more. Something about the physical and sensual use of nice pens [I’m a fountain pen addict], beautiful inks, and fine papers help the creative process in a way the more technical use of electronic or mechanical devices do not.

    The Forum paper, alas, turns into a one side of the page item, with my use of broad nibbed or italic fountain pens due to bleed through. I find myself using the Quo Vadis Habana, the Rhodia Webnotebook, a Basics Journal or Sketchbook [sometimes blank pages call to me instead of lined], and I’m a huge fan of the simple Clairefontaine cloth bound notebooks as well. I simply wrap a larger rubberband around them to mimic the elastics found on the other products.

    The thicker pages don’t bleed through and I can use all my inks, from the lovely J. Herbin colors right up to the super saturated brands without bleed through onto the backs of the pages.

    I can’t imagine NOT keeping journals. It’s a place to skim off my thoughts and calm my soul.

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