I had attempted to keep a journal off and on for years, ever since I finished college. I wanted to keep a journal for a lot of the same reasons I am sure many people do, to record my life, so that I can look back someday and see how I have grown, to see how I have progressed through the years. The problem was I could never stay consistent in my writing. I would start journaling and stick with it for a few weeks or even a month, but after a while I would lose interest and let it fall by the wayside. I did this over and over for years until one day I realized that my perception of what journaling is just did not interest me. I liked the idea of journaling more than actually doing it. I had always believed that keeping a journal meant keeping a daily record of what you did, and while there is nothing wrong with keeping a journal in this way, to me it wasn’t motivating enough. I felt like my life followed too much of a routine and that everyday I was writing about the same things over and over again. It wasn’t until i started asking myself what I wanted out of keeping a journal that this changed for me. After being honest with myself and coming to the conclusion that there are no rules to keeping a journal, I came up with three reasons why it would be beneficial to me.
1) Having a Capture List – One of the biggest reasons to keep a journal now is so that you have a place to jot down anything you don’t want to forget. Anytime I come across a good idea, a book I want to read, a quote I like, inspiration for a future photograph, an idea for a lesson plan, or anything I want to capture so I don’t forget it, I write it down in my journal. How many times a day do you see or hear something that you like and you tell yourself, ” I’ll have to remember that”? If you are like me this happens many times a day. The problem is that unless we write it down, we won’t actually remember half the things we tell ourselves to. I personally started doing this because I would get an idea of a photograph and then completely forget about it later. I used to tell myself that if it was a good idea then I wouldn’t have forgotten it in the first place but now I find it much more productive to just write the idea down in my journal. Any type of notebook would work for this type of journal as long as you keep in one place, this will help insure you will not lose them. For me, I carry around a small Moleskin notebook to jot these things down in, the 3.5 X 5.5 size works perfectly for me because I can slip it easily into a pocket. I am also a fan of the digital notebook Evernote and will use this from time to time when I do not have my notebook on me.
2) Keeping a Log Book – The second way to keep a journal is by keeping a log book. I got the idea from Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like an Artist. A log book is similar to a diary but its a little different. In a log book you simply record what you did each day, what you worked on, where you went, friends you met, and so on. The idea is that having these little details written down will help you remember the bigger things when you go back and look at them. I did not know if this would work or not but I decided to try it anyways. I have been keeping a log book since February and I can go back and read a page from three month ago and remember a great deal about that day from what little I wrote. I did not like the idea of keeping a journal where I wrote out what my day was like as I mentioned above but keeping a log book is much simpler. It takes only a few minutes at the end of the day and is a great way to record the events of your life. For my log book I use a regular 8×5 Moleskin notebook.
3) Organizing My Thoughts – The biggest reason to keep a journal is to organizes and get your thoughts out on paper. It wasn’t until I realized this that I began to enjoy journaling. I find it best to not have any rules when it comes to this and to just get out what you are thinking in your head. For an artist I feel this is essential. If you learn to be honest and to not hold back this can be a great outlet for you. I use it to write downmy goals for myself, why I want them, and how I plan to accomplish them. I write down the fears I have about facing challenging tasks and I write down what I am grateful for in my life. Doing this helps me organize my thoughts and declutter my head. It provides a huge stress relief for me and helps me realize what I need to be focusing on. For this journal I use a simple 5×6 inch journal I picked on in Venice last year on my honeymoon.
I personally keep three separate journals, one for each reason I listed above but these could easily all be done with in one journal. What are some of the reasons you keep a journal?