My theme this year is Journaling A-Z ... and I feel as though I am already cheating with the title of this first article.
However, I thought reviewing supplies at the beginning of the month was essential to those who are interested in starting a Journaling routine.
One note before we begin: This blog series is based on my newest book, Journaling towards Wholeness, due to be released mid-May, 2017. If interested, please stay tuned for further details.
A is for A list of supplies...
The list of journaling supplies is short: something to write on and something to write with.
The simple answer is either paper and pen/pencil or an electronic device.
However, the choices within those categories are vast. I will briefly list a few of the options here, giving my opinion as to the pros and cons of each.
While loose leaf paper in a binder is probably the least expensive, it can be bulky and awkward. Since we are trying to develop a journaling habit to last a lifetime, I would suggest something a bit more manageable for every day use.
- Notebooks - notebooks come in a variety of shapes and sizes: spiral bound or composition, college or wide-ruled. Because these are so inexpensive (especially in July and August during back-to-school sales), why not try several of each and see which one best serves your personal writing needs. I tend to prefer college-ruled composition notebooks that lie flat. I do not like having to navigate the "hump" of some open notebooks, and I find the spirals often come unwound over time.
- Moleskine Notebooks - a bit more expensive than those above, but the quality is unsurpassed. I prefer to use the soft-bound Volant Journals, which come in a convenient size (5x8.25), are narrow-ruled, lie flat, and offer a variety of color options. Moleskine has been around for years and used by such creatives as Hemingway and Picasso. When I hold a Moleskine I feel like a true writer.
- Leuchturrm1917 - a relatively new journal that is becoming increasingly popular among the Bullet Journal junkies (if interested in this phenomenon, please view my introduction to bullet journaling video on YouTube). There are several advantages to this style of notebook. The front pages are reserved as an Index, to help organize and identify key journal entries. The pages are pre-numbered, which makes the indexing process easy, and the dot-grid format is soft on the eyes while providing enough structure to ensure straight handwriting.
- Fine Leather Journals - the ultimate in luxury journaling. I love the feel of leather in my hands, the smell of leather as I write, and the high quality paper that prevents any ghosting or bleeding through of ink. However... often the specialness of this kind of journal causes stress for the writer. We fear our ordinary words are not good enough for this space - and that kind of writer's block is detrimental to a developing a journaling habit.
A final word about notebooks.
Some find using one notebook for all their writing needs is best. If they care about finding journal entries later, they can use an indexing system.
Others prefer to use a separate notebook for each type of journaling. For example, they may have one notebook for personal thoughts, one for business related tasks, and still another for creative brainstorming.
There is no one right way to journal (the primary theme of my book). Experiment and have fun. You will find a system (and a notebook) that works best for you.
The variety of pens may not be as vast as that of notebooks, but the choice exists, is highly personal, and as stated already, requires experimentation.
I would advise using a pen rather than a pencil for several reasons. Pencils tend to write light and will fade over time. Ideally, we would like our words to last a lifetime - or beyond. Secondly, and most importantly, pencils can easily be erased, which can be detrimental to perfectionists like myself. Knowing that we can erase our words tends to awake the inner critic. We fear what we write is not good enough, erase, and begin again. This hinders the journaling process.
Instead, I strongly suggest using a pen. Will you make a mistake? YES... but you will soon discover it is not catastrophic. Simply cross out and move it. You will be liberated!
- Ballpoint - the cheapest and most plentiful. They also rarely bleed through the page. However, I find the writing inconsistency a bit frustrating, and the narrow barrel cramps my hand if I use for a long period of time.
- Gel - another popular option. If you love color, gel pens provides the greatest variety. However, I find the cheaper gel pens don't write as smoothly, and sometimes the ink can smear.
- Pilot G2 or Joy Papermate - these gel pens are the exception to the above rule. While the color options may not be as extensive, there is enough variety to suit my rainbow cravings. The ink flows smooth, dries quickly, and rarely bleeds through. Yes, these pens are a bit more expensive, but in my humble opinion, well-worth the cost.
- Uniball - we are a house divided: I prefer Pilot, and my husband prefers Uniball. Obviously it is a personal choice. I do find these pens write wet, however, and come in limited colors.
- Felt tip - I love the bold color on the page. Unfortunately, I find these pens bleed through too much for my personal taste. If using a thicker paper or card stock, however, these might be a good option.
- Staedtler Fineliner Triplus - the exception to the above rule are these wonderful pens. The fine tip allows for easy writing and detailed work. The variety of colors suit any artist's need. These pens do not bleed through the page and they never dry out! I know... I have inadvertently left off the cap for hours and the pen still works.
- Fountain pens - The quintessential writer's tool. I confess, I don't use these much, but when I do, I feel like a real writer. The price of these pens range from affordable to only for the rich and famous. If interested in experimenting... I might suggest the Pilot Metropolitan series. They come in a variety of styles, several ink cartridge colors, and the price is under $20.
With so many pen options, it bears repeating: experiment, have fun, and find the writing implement that works best for you.
I am a strong proponent for journaling by hand. It forces our minds to slow down while our writing catches up, and in that process, we gain perspectives and insights we might otherwise miss.
In addition, handwriting allows us to access the right-side of our brain: our creative side. Even if our handwriting is more scribble than lettering, there is a deep connection between the thoughts in our head and the way we present them on the page.
Having said that, I know there are times when using a computer, laptop, or smartphone is necessary. For example, when I have so many thoughts I think my head will explode, I need a system to extract them in the fastest way possible. Since I type approximately one word per second, a keyboard is the preferred method.
Or if I am away from my journal and need to jot something down, the recorder feature on my smart phone is indispensable.
In addition, electronic methods provide the added security of password protection.
Security is a necessity when journaling. If we are afraid others might read our private notebooks, we will hold back. We will begin to write for others’ eyes instead of our own well-being. However, it is only through the expression of these inner thoughts and emotions that we become whole again. We cannot censor ourselves when journaling.
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I hope this article inspired you to go shopping, experiment with a few different supplies, and make the commitment to try journaling - at least for the month of April.
Up next in this series: B is for Brainstorming.