Journal Pages: What to do at the End

You already know what to put on the  first page of that new journal. No more intimidation for you! You are boldly marching into that new book. After a few weeks, the new book becomes the old friend–the covers get worn at the corners, the book starts to swell with glued-in pages and additions.

Step-cut of last three pages. The page that binds the signature to the book is left untouched to keep it strong.

And then there are 10 pages left, and 8. And you begin to wonder how and when to end a journal so you don’t have to continue a thought, a project, or a story into another journal. Do you push it so it will end at the end of a week or month? Is it OK to skip pages at the end, or do you have to finish up to the very last page?

I like to come to the end of a project or idea flow in my journals. I don’t mind having a few blank pages in the back. Over time, I’ll fill those blank pages with dates of pages I keep looking up or those with favorite quotes or poems.  I don’t number my journal pages, but I date each page, so sometimes I write the start and end date at the end of the journal. It becomes a useful index to the contents.

Tinting the pages gives them depth and sophistication.

If there are a few blank pages left, I also cut steps into them. I trim the last page about an inch from the end, the next one two inches, and the third one three or four inches in from the book edge. Using a craft knife, I cut a wavy line and create a three-page landscape. Remember to put a cutting mat under the page you are cutting.

Tinting the page edges gives it a nice finish. I use a water color wash to keep the color pale. You could tear the pages straight down or give them a deckled-edge look. I like the curved look better.

Messages on stickers can be a good closing thought.

Daniel Smith, the art supply house, puts a sticker on small or lightweight packages in larger deliveries. The sticker is bright orange, about 4 x 6 inches and says “Don’t throw me away.” It strikes a chord, so I often use one on the final page of a journal. It seems about right.

Add a photo of yourself, your children, your whole family and the pets somewhere in the journal. That way, when you look back over them in the years to come, you’ll have an evolving view of what you looked like. Don’t forget to include a photo, address, and phone numbers of any new house. Years from now, you’ll have fun trying to remember the landlines in all the places you lived.

The last page of a journal doesn’t have to be an ending. It can be a holder for special tickets or postcards, too. Or, for a powerful last page, flip back to the beginning, and read the first post or two. End the book with a recognition of how far you’ve come.

-Quinn McDonald is a journaler, seminar leader and certified creativity coach. Her book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art, will be published by North Light Books in July of 2011.