If you have known me for a while, you may notice that I tend to have a lot of journals and notebooks. In fact, I have a bit of a love affair with writing implements: pens, pencils, loose-leaf paper, printer paper, ink, calligraphy pens, but most significantly, empty books. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by books with blank pages. I think it was because, to me, blank pages in books signified untold stories, and even as a child, I was enamored of the notion that whole worlds existed in peoples minds, and that some very clever, very creative people could pour those worlds out onto blank pages and share them with the world.
Well now, I am an adult (so I’m told) and I am still in love with empty books. In fact, in my home at any given time are dozens of empty journals waiting to be written in. I buy journals all the time, and I would rather us pen and paper than my tablet or iPhone to keep track of my life. Now that I am older, I love my empty books for different reasons. I keep a regular journal now, but it’s not the temporary residence of the world’s next great fantasy epic, as I expected it to be when I was young. It’s a place for my soul to unwind.
I actually keep several journals. In my purse, I keep at least 3 journals.
- my food journal (helps me keep track of my actual vs. emotional eating. Recommended in the book The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron).
- my to-do list note pad (I do better in my life when I write things down and cross them out as they are finished).
I am thinking of adding a 4th for my creative writing ideas. I used to keep one, and now it’s time to re-establish the habit.
“Why do you keep so many journals?” you might ask. Because I need to see on paper what I feel and think about. Because I need to have a conversation. Battling anxiety and depression is not an easy task, especially because things like “feelings” are so abstract. We feel them, they overwhelm us, and we are consumed until they ebb. But keeping a journal is my way of pouring out all of my feelings, like a kid pouring out a coin collection onto the floor. I sit down in my the midst of my pile and sort through everything. At first it makes a mess, but the mess can’t be sorted until its poured out. Writing things down makes the abstracts of my life tangible so that I can handle them.
If life has ever overwhelmed you, maybe you should try taking up journaling. It’s not just for “writers”. It’s for everyone who needs to see their insides on the outside. Don’t know how to start? Here’s a prompt: “Something really made me [insert emotion here] today.” Just see where that takes you. If it was a good emotion, what caused it? If bad, how bad? Why? Ask yourself the things we all never ask. “Know thyself” and see if your world doesn’t become that much clearer.