To Preserve Your Journal,Use the 3-2-1 Concept

If you want your journal to stick around for a while, you might try the 3-2-1 preservation concept.

The 3-2-1 Preservation Concept:
Possess at least 3 copies
In at least 2 formats
At least 1 is far away from the others.


Purpose: To mitigate the risk of losing information by diversifying.

Example: 3 Copies – If you have a physical journal, this is copy #1. Digitally scan your journal to your hard drive; this is copy #2. Upload the scans to a cloud; this is copy #3.
At least 2 Formats – The physical journal and digital scans
At least 1 copy elsewhere – The scans in the cloud are not in the house with the hard drive nor with the physical journal.

Peace,

Deborah

Diaries to Read, Part 1 (Available Online)

It is useful at times to read published diaries and get a feel for why and how others have taken up the pen. Some have written with the expectation of readers, others not so much. The common denominator is that these are diaries which are in the public domain and available to read for free online. Enjoy.

Emilie Davis (1839-1889) – A civilian’s diary during the U.S. Civil War. Emilie Davis was free African American woman living in Philadelphia while writing in the diary. It was a pocket diary with a few blank lines for every day. Pennsylvania State University houses the digital scans.

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) During the plague in London in 1665, the author who would later write Robinson Crusoe kept a diary of the horrors he witnessed, later publishing the sensational journal. A Journal of the Plague Year is available at Project Gutenberg as a transcription of the original journal.

Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904) – A Swiss-Russian traveler who explored the Sahara was a prolific writer and diarist. Eberhardt at times disguised herself as a man to be able to travel with little incident. Her surviving diary entries were compiled and published in a book titled, Isabelle Eberhardt, ou, la Bonne nomade: d’après des documents inédits. The English title is The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt. This diary is available online at Project Gutenberg in French. For a translation, you will need to purchase the book wherever books are sold.

Matthew Henson (1866-1955) In the autobiography of Matthew Henson called A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, the author weaves his personal history with his diary entries from the last expedition of the Peary Arctic Club. They give context to who he is and what the group set out to explore. You can find it at Project Gutenberg and Google Books.

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)The diaries of Pepys are online as a personal project of a tech enthusiast in Herefordshire named Phil Gyford. They are a transcription of the diaries rather than a digital scan. Pepys was a young civil servant in London starting his diary in 1660 and stopping a decade later. You will find ruminations of his daily schedule.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) Digital scans of diaries from U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s collection are available at the Roosevelt Center. You can see his diary from the age of 9, his teen years, his diaries during law school, and as a member of the New York State Assembly, as president, training for war, travel diaries, etc.

Robert Scott (1868-1912) – Captain Robert Scott let British Antarctic expeditions -the Discovery (1901–1904) and Terra Nova (1910–1913). The Terra Nova Antarctic Diaries are available at the British Library to read online. The diaries, “document all aspects of the expedition, including: · the voyage · establishment of the winter base · scientific work · sledging expeditions,” according to the British Library. Interestingly, Scott “wrote most of his entries sequentially on one side of the page, leaving the other side blank,” says the British Library. “In some instances he later used the blank pages to write further entries, reversing the diary and writing from the back of the volume forwards. These entries appear upside down in the original volumes,” they continue. The website allows you to rotate the diary so that one does not need to read it upside down; they also have a transcription in san serif typeface for easier reading.

Peace,

Deborah

Book Store Serendipity

Enjoy the journey of finding the proper journal for your needs. I currently use a certain brand that has worked for the needs of my main journal for the last few years. I do not anticipate moving on from them.

However, in earlier days, I would randomly search the shelves of a book store or two for a new diary. I still do, from time to time, to see what is available.

I recall once spotting a journal on the shelves of an independent bookstore during my university days. It had a magnetic closure. 7 inches by 9 inches – just wide enough for my hand to fit inside and rest on the pages as I would write. It sported pastel, horizontal stripes.

It had a name – Tribeca by Peter Pauper Press. The stripes were to mimic the awnings in New York City’s Tribeca area. How charming.

However, the stripes reminded me of a skirt that Pier Angeli wears in a photo shoot with Vic Damone in the 1950s. She wears a dark blue turtleneck, black belt, an a-line, tea length skirt with light blue, white, and black horizontal stripes. Old Hollywood reminds me of my childhood when we would watch such people play around on the screen at home and marvel at the talent.

Thus, every time that I would write in the Tribeca journal was a pleasure. To this day, long after I have filled its pages to the brim with thoughts and ramblings, I still smile when I see it in my collection.

There is something wonderful about the serendipity of finding a journal in a store. Take a journey through a store and see the many different choices that await you. You might find one you like or inexplicably love.

Peace,

Deborah

Holiday Journal Prompts

Holidays can be a sensitive topic for many people. A journal can be the perfect place to download your feelings and attain a bit of relief from a stressful time. Conversely, if you enjoy festive seasons, journal writing is the perfect time to remember as much as you can about the day or days that you celebrated.

Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for Holidays

  1. Recall your earliest memory of the holiday or festivities.
  2. Do you have related ephemera that you can attach to the journal? e.g. A photo, a concert ticket, a leaf from a long walk?
  3. Do you have a favorite part of the holiday? Is your favorite part when it is all over? Write that down.
  4. Where were you during the holidays?
  5. If you celebrate with others, who attended the festivities?
  6. If you celebrate with others, what excites you about the gathering?
  7. If you celebrate with others, what could be improved in the gathering?
  8. If you celebrate with others, what is it about this gathering that induces you to attend?
  9. Was there travel involved? Describe the trip. Was it fun? Why? Why not?

I wish you peace,

Deborah

Use the Acronym G.L.A.D. as a Daily Journal Prompt

Perhaps you can use a regular set of prompts for your journal. I like to use the acronym G.L.A.D. as headings for some of my daily writing. I grabbed this prompt from somewhere on the internet years ago. This article from Norton Healthcare is the closest I have come to finding its origin: Try the GLAD technique to foster gratitude and push out negativity

Here is my way of doing this popular journal prompt technique.

G is for Gratitude. I write a sentence about that for which I am grateful. This gets me out of any sour mood that I might have when I realize that life isn’t as bad I think. Or perhaps it IS as terrible as I think, but there is still a rainbow in the clouds. I like looking back on this section of my diary whenever I feel gloomy. This is a challenging one as I want to be able to look back on more than just “I am grateful to be alive.” I force myself to dig deeper for gratitude, to be specific, for my future self.

L is for Lesson. I have to write down a lesson learned for the day. That is actually difficult for me. However, in anticipation of this part of the journal, I make sure to learn something during the day to incorporate into this section.

A is for Accomplishment. What did I achieve today? Even if the achievement is that I hopped out of bed when I did not feel like it, or that I have been consistent in some goal, I write it down. It does not have to be an epic accomplishment every day.

D is for Delight. For some reason the idea of delight means to me to remember your day as if you were a child. What would have been awe-inspiring to your younger self? When I think of the answer to that question, somewhere in there, around the corner is a sense of delight for me. You may interpret the word “Delight” in any way you choose. It is just another way to appreciate your day.

From G.L.A.D. to G.L.A.A.D.E.- an Expansion

This week, I have expanded G.L.A.D. to G.L.A.A.D.E. which is not nearly as pithy and catchy, but it helps me to remember what I want to write about. I have added an A and an E to expand what I want to write about every day.

G is for Gratitude

L is for Lesson

A is for Accomplishment (Today)

A is for Accomplishment (Expected Tomorrow). This is to remind me to plan more.

D is for Delight

E is for Encourage Yourself. Give yourself a pep talk. Say things such as,”I know this day did not end the way you wanted, but you have weathered this before and you can do it again.”

Hopefully this can be of use to someone.

Peace,

Deborah

Your 5 Senses as Journal Prompts

Here’s one way to journal if

… you have not yet started

…do not know what to say

… would like to recall a moment more vividly later

…or have not journaled in a long time and need a boost.

Use your senses!

Ask yourself the following:

  1. What do I see right now?
  2. What scent or scents do I smell right now?
  3. What do I hear?
  4. What do I taste right now?
  5. What texture is in contact with my body? Or what does my body feel right now?

It has been my experience that when you are this detailed, you remember the moment better. I do this prompt at funerals when I want to remember not only who was there, but the texture of the pew, the smell of someone’s perfume as they hug me, etc.


Truth be told, the taste one is usually the one I have to stretch to find. I am not usually eating and journaling simultaneously. I often end up describing the taste of toothpaste,but that is ok. It is the truth. Tailor the prompts to fit your reality and your world.

I bid you peace,

Deborah

Image as Journal Prompt

Use an image as a journal prompt.

It can be a personal image or one you randomly find online or in a print publication. Allow the image to evoke an idea or a memory.

If it is a personal photo, who is in the picture? Where are they? Let yourself tell the story of what led to this moment in the photo, or what happened after. Or perhaps, you can use the personal photo to write details about an individual that you know.

If the image is not personal to you, such as an image from a magazine, you can still use it as a journal prompt. You can recount why you selected that image, where it comes from, what it reminds you of, how it inspires you (or not).

Peace,

Deborah

Addressing the YOU of five years ago in your journal

The leader of a Facebook group recently asked a question similar to the following, a question which might be a great journal prompt:

What have you accomplished which would have impressed YOU five years ago?

That’s a mouthful.

This prompt is meant to help you understand the progress you have made in life.  Have you done something that five years ago you didn’t expect to have done? Have you accomplished something that, five years ago, seemed out of reach? Have you altered your life in ways that you had not even considered back then?

Contemplate it and record your answers.

This prompt can also be used to get your ideas flowing for what’s next. What might impress you in the next five years?

Peace,

Deborah

Templates Create Efficiency in Your Journal’s To-Do List

If your journal also houses your to-do list, then efficiency in creating those lists is necessary to get the job done.

One of the biggest culprits of to-do list failure, of not achieving the goal, is the tedium of having to write and rewrite your list on tasks to complete on a regular basis. Delay writing burnout by creating templates.

If you know that you will create a to-do list every day or every week in your journal, it might be a good idea to type a list template that you can print and affix to your paper journal.e.g. If you have a weekly to-do list for the foreseeable future that has as its focus Housing goals, Blogging goals, and Financial goals, then type those headings in a simple table, leaving blanks for you to write in the specific goal each week.

If you are using a digital journal for your list, create a to-do list template that you can copy and paste every day or every week.

Continue tweaking your journal and your lists until it fits your life. Pay attention to what fatigues you about your writing and what brings you  a sense of well-being.

And remember that what worked for you in a different phase of life might need to be tweaked for your current phase of life.

Peace,

Deborah

 

Which Pen Should You Use for Journal Writing?

Use the writing implement or medium that works for you and your journal. If a Visconti Rembrandt fountain pen makes you eager to write, go for that investment. If a store brand pen which you can buy in packs of 50 gets your creative juices flowing (because you’re not worried about someone “borrowing” it), then use that inexpensive pen.

Sometimes you’re not even using a writing implement. There may be times when you  glue an image to a page to speak for your mood instead of words.

The pen (or other medium) you should use for the journal is the one that serves you.

Onward,

Deborah

Do You Use a Table of Contents in Your Journal?

How many of you use a table of contents in your paper journal?

While it is perfectly possible to enjoy the benefits of journal writing without labeling each entry, a table of contents or an index will help to skim the journal for an entry that you will want to re-read later.

Plus, a table of contents gives you a summary of your year (or whatever time frame in which you used the journal). Sometimes you look back in wonder at all the thing you have done (or didn’t do) in a year, just by looking at the table of contents.

Peace,

Deborah

 

Journey Digital Journal [A Review]

Inspired by the founder of National Journal Writing Month, Bakari Chavanu, who talks about his enjoyment of digital journal writing, this month I journaled using an app on my phone.

I used the Journey brand of digital journal, which is for Android.

You type as you would a memo. (In fact, Journey  resembles the Memo Pad which comes automatically with your Samsung, but with a more aesthetically-pleasing interface.)

You insert video, photos,  stickers, etc., should you prefer to do so. I did not find an audio feature (other than whatever audio is on your video); I’m surprised since even Memo Pad allows for voice-only attachments to your entry.

There are other features which you access with an upgrade, however, there are plenty features in the free version to keep a simple digital journal.

Journey automatically dates the entry; the date and time remain even if you update. There is an option to change the date and time manually. (So that’s one up on the Memo Pad, which automatically updates your date and time when you change an entry and you cannot alter it.) When you start a fresh entry but use an old image, Journey asks whether you want to change the date from the current date to the date on the image.

journey digital journal - screenshot - Deborah Observes

To read the next journal entry on Journey, you can easily click the arrow at the bottom of your journal post (or use the timeline feature to have a big picture glimpse of your little essays). Journey, of course, comes with standard tag features and the ability to search. These features spark the feeling of creating a personal mini blog.

Journey is great for those moments when you do not have your paper journal with you, or when you need to add text to that image you have just taken so that you do not forget details of an event.

It’s a serviceable journal app to capture moments, but not so great for lengthy, soul-searching, life-altering journaling. For me, Journey would supplement my main journal writing, but not replace it.

I prefer the intimacy of a hand-written, paper journal; I’m accustomed to it. However, Journey’s ability to allow you to search for specific entries and categorize by tags is selling me on digital journal writing in general.

Ultimately, Journey is a less-clunky, journal-dedicated version of Memo Pad.

Journey digital journal might be for you if…

…you like an intuitive, streamlined, user-friendly app for journal writing.

…you need a journal app that can be used with a desktop or laptop keyboard.

…you need an Android app to capture moments while you are out and about.

…you would like to store journal entries on Google Drive.

Journey digital journal might NOT be for you if…

… you prefer to use your iPhone for journal writing. Journey is currently only for Android users.

…you prefer to journal exclusively on paper. (However, there is an option to export as a WORD document or a PDF, among other formats, should you prefer to print it off  into paper form.)

… you already use Memo Pad for digital journaling and are ok with not be able to sync the text to other devices.

Click here to view the specifics of Journey brand digital journal on Google Play.

Sincerely,

Deborah

How to Use a Journal to Remember a Recently-Deceased Relative

When a loved one dies, you might wish to remember the person by writing about your experience in your journal, writing about the deceased and keeping mementos.

Here are a few things that I have done with a journal during Aunt C’s recent illness and  death:

1. Print Text Messages

These days, some are irritated if you call them on the phone without advance notice. Instead, we send short text messages on our cell phones or other mobile devices when it is more convenient than voice-to-voice or face-to-face communication.

I’m so glad that this is the case, because text messages from loved ones who are now deceased become written (or, rather, typed) keepsakes.

I have texts from Aunt C that I will print out and place in my journal, including her last one in which she thanked me for sending a book about cancer and hope – not know the deceased very well, the speech tends to be an impersonal lecture. However, he or she might still have a few words worth worth your time; take notes. I do not put too much pressure on myself to summarize the eulogy if the person did not know the deceased; I just grab one concept from the whole speech, then write about something else.

At some funerals, there is a point in the service when audience members may go to a microphone for a couple of minutes and reflect on the life of the person who has died. Usually, the audience member tells a story about one moment in time when the deceased was kind, or entertaining, or a welcome presence, etc. These are often stories that I’ve never heard before, so I take notes. I summarized these 2-minute reflections about Aunt C in my journal during her funeral.

You may decide to do all of this in your journal later at home. However, I have found that I tend to forget some of the things I want to record unless I’m taking notes in the moment, as if it is an important class.

(Actually, a funeral can be an important class in life. Everyone is thinking about death and what is important to them. It’s a time of reflection.)

5. Consider an heirloom journal

Let’s say that the deceased did not leave much of a personal record of themselves – their opinions, their thoughts on life, their thoughts on the family, etc. There’s little you can do about that.

However, you can consider leaving YOUR journals behind so that your relatives have a keepsake from you.  The heirlooms might be your daily journals or a separate journal specifically dedicated to what you want your relatives to know about you, about life, about concepts that you find important.

Aunt C did not keep a journal (at least, not that we know of); she was a private individual. However, after her death, a few relatives perused her papers to get a better sense of who she was, that which she never really told us about herself. It was a bit impersonal since the papers were diplomas, certificates, office papers, bills, etc., but they still told a story. It would have been nice to have something a little more personal from her.

Give the gift of your personal story to your loved ones by leaving your journals in your will.

Peace,

Deborah

P.S. If you are worried about what can happen to your journal after you die, read this article to consider your options: Journaling Q and A, Part 1.

Do You Reread Your Journals?

People write in journals for a variety of reasons. Depending on the purpose of the journal, rereading it can be useful. Sometimes, however, rereading the journal serves no purpose for you or perhaps it is too painful.

However, for those of us who use journals to record our history, our progress (or lack of it), rereading is essential.

I recently stumbled across Tim Ferriss’ book – Tools of Titans. In his introduction, I was struck by his use of journals. He calls them “notes.”

“I’m a compulsive note-taker…. I have recorded nearly every workout since age 18 or so…. It is the collection of my life’s recipes.

“My goal is to learn things once and use them forever.

“For instance, let’s say I stumble upon a picture of myself from June 5, 2007, and I think, ‘I really wish I looked like that again.’ No problem. I’ll crack open a dusty volume from 2007, review the 8 weeks of training and food logs preceding June 5, repeat them and -voila- end up looking nearly the same as my younger self (minus the hair). It’s not always that easy, but it often is.”

For Ferriss, workout journals and food logs are important.

What would be important for you to recall from your journals?

For me, recalling what I was doing a year ago  helps me to understand my progress and my process in any given area of life. Have I made progress on the goals mentioned last year?

Approximately a year ago this month, I said that I wanted to create a business. I’ve set those gears in motion.

One of the things I now do that I wasn’t doing last year this time is use the journal to record my goals for the week, re-reading the goals daily, and revamping the next week’s goals on Saturday.

Members of BTS, a music group that I like, ask themselves at least three goal-related questions every year, questions that I have adapted to a weekly form and ask myself every Saturday in my journal. They are these:

  1. What accomplishments excited you this week?
  2. What would you like to accomplish next week?
  3. Give yourself encouragement for the next week.

I answer these questions. Under accomplishments for the week, I note daily which things I’ve done and which I have not. I reread the answers at the end of the week. Sometimes I look back on the week and see lots of notes that something did not happen, that I did not accomplish this thing or that. It can be discouraging. But the great difference between last year and this year is that I correct the failings quicker because I  reread the list of things to do every week.

My journal is also where I record my feelings or thoughts about family, business, technology or anything else I’m thinking about. Not only is my to-do list there, but the mental state that I’m in when I accomplish (or fail to accomplish) a thing is right there as well. This helps me to see patterns of thought that I can change to alter my behavior, map my behavior towards the goal.

The person that I once was is always a familiar stranger. This is comforting. Since I made such terrible career decisions in my youth, I am forever in doubt that I’ll know what future self wants. However, according to my journals, the terrible decisions occurred when I stopped listening to myself and followed the crowd. Now, I listen to myself more, I follow the way that I am bent more, even if my behavior is difficult to explain. (This is another reason that rereading my journals comes in handy – if I can explain myself to myself, I have a better shot at being able to explain myself to other people.)

Do you reread your journals? Why do you do so?

Peace,

Deborah

Digital Journal Vs. Paper Journal Debate, NaJoWriMo Founder Weighs In

Author and founder of the National Journal Writing Month, Bakari Chavanu, weighs in on the debate of digital journal vs. paper journal in his article, “10 Reasons I Prefer Digital Journal Writing Over Pen and Paper.”

My favorite of his reasons for using a digital journal over a paper one is that it is easily searchable. One of my greatest problems has been in finding a way easily to return to specific parts of my journals. Right now I use a table of contents. I’ve tried indexing, but it’s just too time-consuming.

I have used both. I more readily use the paper journal since it lends to a feeling of privacy even in a crowd. Sitting there, cradling your book, you are visiting an old friend, it seems. Currently, a digital journal requires lots of tapping and typing (or talk-to-text dictation), which my brain associates with work and not much that is personal. But that is a quirk.

It doesn’t have to be either/or. The best journal is the one that works for you. We have discussed before that  a journal is there to serve you and your needs. If a digital journal works for you, go for it.

In a way, this website serves as a kind of digital journal.  Many of the thoughts that I free write about on paper every day becomes fodder for this website.

Which do you prefer? Do you use both? Do you use someone other journaling method?

Sincerely,

Deborah

Thoughts on Journal Writing

Thoughts about journal writing

  • The format of your journal is up to you. It can be like a captain’s log (” At 8:00am, I awakened to the sound of bluejays over the Sandish Hills.”); it can be a commonplace book- where all things that inspire you are included; it can be a progress journal to keep track of health, household, relationships; it can be more of a to-do list to help you organize your life with a customizable plan (like bullet journaling – click here for bullet journaling 101); you can even create an art journal and paint, or draw, or create a mixed media book; it can be an historical record for your family. Discover your reason for doing it and plow forward with that.
  • How many journals you keep should be dictated by what you want them to do, plus your own way of writing. There are those who do multiple journals, compartmentalizing their lives – jogging journal is separate from family history journal. There are those who keep separate subjects in one journal -keeping 30 pages for inspiring quotes, then another 30 pages for musing about interesting articles, the next 30 pages might be reserved for ranting. There are those who use one journal, start off with the date and then discuss what happened today, or their thoughts on some subject – a catch-all journal.
  • If you join a Facebook group, or any group, of journal writers, understand that talking about having the most expensive fountain pen or the most fabulous leather journal is more important for some of them than is the act of writing. If you want to collect fountain pens, there is nothing wrong with that. However, assess whether a group that is mostly about conspicuous consumption helps you with your journal writing goals.
  • For those of you who -like me- are introverted journal writers who tend to keep to yourself, and journal write wherever you go, look up once in a while. You might find a fellow journal writer right under your nose. I was writing in my journal while in a waiting room and that was the impetus for a fellow journal writer to strike up a pleasant conversation with me! Who knew?
  • If you journal in public, be aware that some people might think that you are writing about them. Some might be bold enough to ask whether you are or not. It might be best to put away the book at that moment, since you never know what someone will do when they are panicked. This rarely happens, but use your discretion.
  • You do not need to keep your journals if you don’t want to do so. Some journals are meant to carry you through a certain season of life and no further. Some journals might be filled with all the things you dislike and all the people you distrust; re-reading that can be repulsive or unproductive. If you need to destroy  or recycle a page or an entire journal, do so. The thing has served its purpose.
  • If you decide to keep your journals, and they are filled with things that you don’t mind reading, let me tell you what a joy it is to be able to go back and see what you were thinking 5 years ago on this date! Even if you ultimately disagree with the person you once were, it’s still a thrill to see the progress (or a kick in the pants to see how little you have progressed).
  • After a while, some journal writers develop a pre-writing ritual, e.g. setting the tea kettle on to boil before writing, exercising vigorously. Some even have  post-writing rituals. I like to sign the last page of my journal, as if I had just written a long, 140-page letter.
  • Reviewing past journals might leave you stunned. An idea that you think you’ve created recently might be in a journal from years ago; you simply did not take the initiative, did nothing about it, then forgot. It takes a lot not to become discontented at that point, thinking about all the things you could have accomplished between that time and this.  Learn to become a more forgiving person, starting with yourself. (Also learn to strike while the iron is hot!)
  • Too many beginners in journal writing behave as if the thing will be ruined if they make a mistake, need to erase something, or scratch through it. Journaling should be a joy, or something functional for you, not something that produces fear, or seems to intimidate you. Remember that journal writing tools -your journal, your writing implements, your ideal writing environment – are there to serve YOU. 

 

Sincerely,

Deborah

What is Your Ideal Journal Writing Environment?

What is your ideal journal writing environment?

Journaling has been such a personal endeavor for me since childhood that I never considered that others might do it any different way than I did. I didn’t think too much about how anyone else would do it.

Since joining various journal writing groups online, I’ve found a variety of ways in which people journal and where they journal.

  • Some enjoy journaling in the same spot every time.
  • Some like to sit in a corn field, or up a tree, or near a river, or on the beach, or while looking a mountain.
  • Others would not dream of writing without a table.
  • Some prefer a coffee shop.
  • Others prefer the comfy coziness of home.
  • Some prefer to write while waiting for the oil to be changed in their automobile, or while the children are playing in the park.
  • There are joint journals where everyone can contribute to the book, so they keep it in a common area, like the living room.
  • Some write in the kitchen while the tea kettle is boiling.
  • Some cannot get started until they have a bouquet of colorful pens nearby.
  • Others refuse to write without a fountain pen.

I like to write anywhere and at anytime. My lap is my desk. If a thought strikes, I must record it in some fashion. Sometimes the most handy thing is the voice recorder on your phone. You say the thought aloud into the phone and later expand on it in the journal.

Sometimes, in childhood, I would journal in the closet with a flashlight until someone called my name for dinner.

Your environment must be conducive to how you like to write in your journal. Your instruments must be convenient to use or you are less likely to write.

Sometimes you cannot think straight enough to write until the dishes are washed and the house is tidy. At other times, the dishes can sit and soak while you pound out an idea before you forget it.

If you are just getting started journaling, perhaps your preferences are not yet set. Don’t worry; you’ll find the setting that is perfect for you if you don’t give up on it. Tweak and tweak and tweak. (And enjoy the process of tweaking.)

What is your ideal writing environment? What have you done to create it, to make it a reality? Perhaps you can journal about that.

Peace,

Deborah

P.S. If you’re have been procrastinating on journal writing, click for this article on how to think about procrastination and how overcome it.

P.P.S. This might be useful to you. Click for Journal Q and A, Part 1 which addresses 3 common fears which prevent many from starting or continuing journal writing.

Here’s One Way to Savor a Moment

Use your five senses to help create vivid memories and savor your moments.

Ask yourself the following:

What do I smell?

What do I see?

What do I hear?

What do I taste?

What textures do I feel?

 

It has been my experience that slowing down to think these questions and answer them helps to remember the moment a bit more. I usually ask about 5 things that I see,  5 things that I hear, and so forth. This is to give myself even more moments for instant recall.

I do this all the time anywhere – at weddings, family reunions, funerals, or just on a lovely morning in quiet. I want to remember the atmosphere. I also tend to write down the resulting observations into my ever-present journal.

There was a trip to Virginia wherein we stayed in a cabin near a lake. I still remember having early morning quiet time on the pier, watching fisherman in small motor boats, feeling the sun rise and warm my face in the cool morning air, hearing the pages turn in my journal. It was a beautiful moment and I remember feeling grateful to be alive.

How do you savor a moment?

Peace,

Deborah

 

Journal Prompts -After Listening to a Music Album

Have listened to a music album recently and wish to write about it in your journal? Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for Listening to a Music Album

  1. Name the album. Why did you choose it?
  2. Is it your first time listening to this album? If you listened to it before, what spurred you to listen to it again? What prompted you to listen the first time?
  3. Who is/are the artist/ artists?
  4. When did you first hear of the artist?
  5. What was your initial impression of the artist? Has your opinion remained the same? Changed?
  6. How would you describe the genre?
  7. Do you have other albums of this artist? Which ones?
  8. How does this album rank with that of this artist’s other albums?
  9. How does this album rank, in your opinion, with that of other artist in this genre?
  10. How do you think future music will be consumed? – we’ve had records, CDs and now digital downloads. What is next?

 

All the best,

Deborah

Journal Prompts for After a Concert

Do you need journal prompts after attending a concert? Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for After a Concert

  1. What concert did you attend?
  2. What is it about this artist that induces you to spend time at one of their concerts?
  3. Recall the first time you ever heard a composition or song from this artist.
  4. Who attended the concert with you?
  5. Why did you attend this particular venue (as opposed to buying tickets for this artist at a different venue)?
  6. Affix the concert ticket (or a copy of it) to the journal page and write about the process of buying it.
  7. Affix any other ephemera (or a picture of it) to the journal page. E.g. A concert program, a piece of confetti shot out of a cannon. Write about its purpose at the concert. What excites or interests you about it?
  8. What did you wear? Why?
  9. Describe the process of traveling to the venue. Was it fun? Why? Why not?
  10. What are your two favorite compositions or songs from this artist? Why?
  11. How many more of this artist’s concerts would you like to attend?
  12. Has this artist inspired you in some way? Describe how.
  13. What do you think this artist’s career will be like in ten years?
  14. Where did you go after the concert? Who was there with you?
  15. Will you ever be able to return to life as usual? (Sure you will. Just give yourself a couple of weeks. :))

 

All the best,

Deborah

Journal Prompts for Aunts and Uncles

You are an aunt or uncle and you have read the tips for being the best aunt or uncle ever. Tip number six is to savor the moments. One way to savor the moments is through journal writing.

The following writing prompts are not only to help you capture the moments, but also to help you think through the relationship that you would like to have with your nieces or nephews, whether they are minors or adults.

Let’s get started.

Journal Prompts for Aunts or Uncles

  1. How many nieces and/or nephews do you have?
  2. How would you like them to remember you?
  3. What traditions would you like to begin or maintain in the lives of your nieces /nephews?
  4. What does being the best Aunt or Uncle mean to you? What does it look like?
  5. How can you set aside time to know your nieces /nephews and their goals in life?
  6. How can you help them achieve their goals?
  7. What is your relationship like with their parents (or the people who are raising them)?
  8. How can you improve or maintain your relationship with the parental figures so that you may continue to have access to the little ones?
  9. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what do they need from you now that you did not or could not provide in their childhood (For instance, a routine or act might not have been appropriate for the age or mental development of the child)? How can you incorporate whatever the newer elements are into your relationship?
  10. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what should you now omit from your relationship that was appropriate when they were children, but does not help them to progress today?
  11. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what traditions will you continue from their childhood?
  12. “I feel loved when my Aunt/ Uncle does______.” How would your nieces /nephews complete that sentence?
  13. What are your Aunts /Uncles like?
  14. What have your Aunts /Uncles taught you that you will add to the relationship you have with your nieces /nephews?
  15. How can you encourage your nieces/nephews to write in journals?
  16. Create journals about your nieces/nephews which…
    • …Record thoughts you want them to remember
    • …Capture words or concepts that they have uttered to you
    • …Include pictures of them, pictures of them with you
    • …Include notes from them
    • …Tell them about your childhood relationship with your sibling(s)
    • …You present as a gift to them at some point (You can leave the journals to them in your will, even.)

Peace be with you,

Deborah

The Q & A a Day 5-Year Journal and The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal [A Double Review]

Yours truly started writing in both the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal and the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book back in October of 2015. I committed to writing in them for just over a year before putting them to rest. They did not work for the way I journal, but they might work for you.

Both of the 5-Year Journals use the same principle – they are each a “condensed, comparative record for five years, for recording events most worthy of remembrance,” according to One Line a Day.

Each page has Month and Day printed on it; it also has five sections on it. Each section is comprised of a space for a year date and a handful of blank lines.

Additionally, Q& A a Day gives you 365 one sentence questions to answer, such as ” If you were a literary character, who would you be?”

One Line a Day comes with a ribbon page marker. Q& A does not.

Both The One Line a Day Journal and Q&A Journal might be for you…

  • … if you prefer a small, hand-sized journal that can fit in your purse (But not your clutch. I have tried it.)
  • …if you have little time but want to jot something down in a journal
  • …if you do not need much space for writing all your thoughts
  • …if a larger blank page is intimidating
  • …if you would like to have notes from 5 years of your life on one page (That’s the most awesome feature.)

Additionally, the Q&A a Day Journal might work for you…

  • …if you need a random prompt every day
  • …if you are just getting started and you don’t know what to write about yet

Additionally, The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal might work for you…

  • …if you want to note a few ideas for a specific topic (e.g. This journal might be great for guests to leave a note about their stay in your rental space; it might also be a great health progress journal – just enough space for a few stats; it might be your gratitude journal.)
  • …if you want to give it as a present to a child. (The other journal, the Q& A Journal, assumes that teens or adults are using the journal. The questions reflect this audience.)
  • …if you prefer a ribbon bookmark already in the book.

Neither journal might be for you…

  • …if you prefer leather journals. They are made of some kind of heavy cardboard.  (You can have them rebound in leather.)
  • …if you feel like you’re about to explode from all the things you didn’t write because there is not enough space to contain your genius!
  • …if you prefer wide journals.
  • …if you prefer to journal with a fountain pen. (My fountain pen bleeds through both.)

I love the idea of seeing 5 consecutive years of the same day on 1 page. Seeing your progress (or lack of it) is fascinating. The concept is great. I just need more space to write; I like to write anywhere from  2 pages (average) to about 10 pages a day.

Because I was also writing extensively in my main journal, the 5-year journals became a brief summary of something I had already written. The redundancy really burdened me. I began skipping days in the 5-year journals, then writing in them retroactively. It was a mess.

If a 5-Year Journal was my only journal, of the two, I would go for the One Line A Day version. There are no prompts to ignore, so it’s a miniature version of my main journal.

I also feel a little sick to my stomach that I recorded pretty much the same activities on the same days of the year – I had not altered my life one bit. My lack of progress was staggering. And the year had gone by so fast! I might return to this journal one day, just for that kick in the pants.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. You may purchase  the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal or the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book by clicking on the titles.

P.P.S. Have you used one of these journals? What did you think?

Heirloom Journals – Prompts for the Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children

Not all journals are for yourself exclusively. Some would rather leave their writings to their children as heirlooms. Here are  a few writing prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for a Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children (Heirloom Journals)

  1. Tell your children how much you love them.
  2. List and explain life concepts that you find imperative to know.
  3. What is your name? What is the name of the other parent?
  4. How did you meet the other parent? Describe this relationship.
  5. What are your children’s names? Why did you name them this?
  6. Describe something that is unique about each of your children.
  7. Describe a special moment that you have enjoyed with each of your children.
  8. When were you born?
  9. When were your children born?
  10. Where were you born?
  11. Where were your children born?
  12. Where did you live during childhood? Did you enjoy it? Why? Why not?
  13. Where did you raise/are you raising your children? (Author’s note: The early years are especially crucial to record, since the children might not recall the details.)
  14. Who raised you? What is your relationship like with your parents or parental figures?
  15. Describe your childhood.
  16. Describe what you hope your children will take from their childhood.
  17. Do you have siblings? List your siblings. Explain what your relationship was like with them in childhood and what the relationship is like now.
  18. Describe what you’ve learned from your relationship with your siblings.
  19. Did you have pets as a child? How was that experience for you?
  20. What were your favorite toys?
  21. What from your childhood have you incorporated into your parenting?
  22. What from your childhood have you not permitted in your parenting?
  23. What traditions would you prefer that you children maintain?
  24. How would you prefer that your children remember you?
  25. Share quotes from your favorite people – e.g. relatives, authors, speakers, neighbors, etc.
  26. List and explain books, songs, or other media that you want your children to remember.
  27. What are your food preferences?
  28. What are your dietary restrictions?
  29. Are any of your food choices related to significant family traditions? Explain them.
  30. Quote your children, anything that stands out to you. (Author’s note: It has been my experience that older children ask, “What was I like at the age of X? “ “Did I have a catchphrase back then?”)
  31. Affix notes from your children into the journal and explain the circumstances under which you gained possession of them.
  32. Who is someone important to you that your children never met? (e.g. Their deceased great grandfather) Describe that person.
  33. Explain why journaling is important and why you have given this journal to your children.

Date Headers for Your Journals

When organizing a handwritten journal or day’s log, many people enjoy writing the day’s date at the top. To help your eyes see the start of your day’s entry with the greatest of ease, many journal writers embellish the date or create a unique header.

If you search online for “date headers,” you’ll find many ideas in the Bullet Journal community.

Here’s an article from Tiny Ray of Sunshine – “Add Stylistic Headers.”

I have created a few headers below that you can try.  You artsy folk can do it even better.

it's deborah - date header examples - with site logo
Here I’ve dashed off a few headers that, hopefully, with spark something in your own imagination.

Let me drop a word here. Please remember why you are journaling. Do not spend all your time trying to choose the “right” color or the “perfect” header or you’ll not actually write anything. Make progress, not perfection.  Onward.

Peace be with you,

Deborah