Journaling Thoughts: Getting Started

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

To start, you need paper and ink (or graphite). You don’t even need a notebook per se. Some like to use index cards. Some write on scraps of paper they find around the house, or around town, before storing them in a single container. Tyler Knott Gregson, a photographer and poet, uses a typewriter and scraps of paper to compose his poetry. I imagine, the same can be done for journaling.

Now, before you come at me and say, “well, I can write on my phone too”, I’ll say yes, and no. I don’t recommend keeping a journal on a cell phone for a few reasons. The fact that you need to charge it, for one. And, it brings unnecessary distractions. (Tiktok being my poison of choice.) Another is that writing things with your own hands, rather than typing them out, just hits the mind differently. In my case, I remember things better. It forces my mind to slow down, focus. Once I get going, everything else falls away.

I would also suggest keeping whatever you choose small and portable. You want to be able to carry your journal wherever you go, and not feel like you’re lugging around a brick. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I use pocket sized Leuchtturm1917, or A6 notebooks because they fit the bill. I keep mine in my backpack (along with an emergency make-up/touch-up kit, snacks, a bottle of water, keys, and a thousand post-it notes I need to file away).

Also, choose a good (not expensive) pen. I love fountain pens because they’re flow is smoother than ballpoints (here’s looking at you BIC), and it’s more eco-friendly to use something reusable. However, they’re not always practical, so I also carry a few gel pens that allow me to replace the ink refill once it’s run out. I like pens that glide over paper and require the least amount of pressure to write. After all, if it feels like you’re writing on sandpaper, you’re not going to want to write. (The very sensation gives me chills.)

In all, choose whatever suits your lifestyle, and budget. You don’t need to go crazy or spend too much time deliberating on all the options. The point is to make the action of writing easier, portable, and as painless as possible. (The pain comes later.)

But, if you really must, I guess you can use your phone or laptop.    

Introducing: Journaling Thoughts

Hello everyone! Welcome to the start of a series on journaling, called Journaling Thoughts. In it, I will cover a wide range of topics surrounding journaling, from tools of the trade to tips on how to get started. Even a few lessons I learned along the way. Journaling has been one of the most helpful habits I’ve implemented in my life, and I’ve been doing it for over a decade now. Ten years of trying to make sense of the world, and myself.

That said, I still struggle with the practice every day. There’s this constant war between myself and my inner critic. (That villain that likes to plant doubt like others plant carrots in spring.)  You can even call it “journaling anxiety”. But, that’s okay. With time, I’ve learned to win more than a few battles.

When I first started journaling for reals, I was a senior in high school. I wrote in large composition notebooks, filled pages upon pages with thoughts on recent video games, transcribed lines from favorite books, pasted in the wrappers from favorite snacks, and even wrote the occasional entry on how I wanted to leave home and explore somewhere new. Then, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for college, just before 2010. There, I downsized to A5 size notebooks, where I would paste in old assignments I was proud of, or conversations I had with friends or classmates on Facebook.  (I even pasted in the chat lines from the first time I was ever asked out.) I collected words and instances like a mad person, but, in essence, I was trying to comprehend the world around me. I was compiling everything that seemed a part of me into one place, creating a written collage of my life. And it was only after gathering so much that I realized how little some things mattered, or how important other things were. (Often, I lamented what I had lost.)

Now, I’ve gotten to writing in pocket sized Leuchtturm1917 notebooks. They’re slightly larger than a pocket Moleskine (roughly 3.5 x 6 inches), and have nicer archival quality paper. (Better yet, fountain pen friendly paper.) They fit nicely in any bag, right next to my keys and pepper spray. (Okay, just kidding on the pepper spray.) I rarely paste things in anymore, and I put a bit more thought into what I transcribe.

If I had to narrow it down, I would say that the biggest benefits from journaling have been learning how to distinguish the necessary from the unnecessary. How to value what I have, in the moment, and how to ignore all the background noise. That, and the comfort of knowing I have a safe space to be myself.

If you’ve been thinking of starting a journal, but just haven’t gotten around to it, I encourage you to do so. Even if it’s just one line a day. And even if you already keep one (or three), and still hit certain roadblocks, please share them in the comments section below. What have you learned from your practice, or, what do you hope to learn?

***

Photo by Alexandra Fuller on Unsplash

If you’d like to connect, please reach out at my contact page here!

A Brief Introduction (of Sorts)

Earlier this year, I was responding to a penpal in Germany and one of the questions she asked me in her letter was: in three words, how would you describe yourself? Believe it or not, that’s how Introvert in Flux was born. Three simple words to describe the current state of being I find myself in. Quiet, but constantly changing. 

And, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m sure others, like me, grew up and live in a society that promotes extroversion. And this society comes with a lot of noise, a lot of feedback and chatter. So much so, that sometimes, it’s hard to find a moment of peace. But they’re out there, and when you feel like you’re at your limit, they make all the difference.

I hope that this will be a quiet, peaceful, space for you.

Let me also start off by saying that I don’t always have my life together. In fact, I mess up a lot. Even while entering my thirties, I am still growing and learning about what my bones are made of, and how they all fit together. Even so, what I hope to do here is share a few of the skills and practices I’ve picked up along the way in hopes that they might be of some benefit to you. That you might learn a bit more about yourself. What you’re capable of, what you might be carrying, and what needs to be left behind. I’ll even toss in a few personal experiences and observations, just to keep things interesting. 

So, Dear Reader, I invite you to join me. Let’s mess up together, then figure things out as we go.