Keeping a Journal

Does keeping a journal require keeping the journals?

Do you keep your journals? When one is done (or filled), where do you store it? Do you ever go back and look at them? What are you doing differently in your life than you did 10 years ago? What are you doing that is the same?

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 9.56.56 PMA journal will hold your grudges for you so you can get on with your life. A journal will hold your worries, so you don’t have to let them circle your mind. A journal will hold your big goals, so you can keep following them.

But a journal that gets filled and stuffed in a box and put in the attic–that journal might as well be a cannoli for all the good it is doing you.

Journals are like computers–they hold information, but the genius comes in interpreting the information. Learning from it. Acting on it.

Treasure your old journals. They show how far you have come.

-Quinn McDonald keeps a journal. It talks back to her.

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16 thoughts on “Keeping a Journal

  1. I keep all my journals…I have several ongoing works during the year.
    About twice a year, I go through my older journals, reread them, highlight deep thoughts, new insights, things that have come to pass.
    They are great learning tools, but as with anything, they only work if you use them.

  2. On both instances this year when I was packing for a move, I went over my journals and really enjoyed the journey. I also occasionally just pick one out and go through it. I find the most amazing stuff that I had forgotten that I had written or done…

  3. For a few years I have been keeping journals to jot down ideas or interesting things I found on the net. This is the first year I kept a sort of diary (more the kind of commonplace book) and a visual journal with a daily resume, but nothing too deep or personal.
    I start to see the importance of reviewing one’s year and that’s just the thing I want to finish my year with.
    My question: How many journals do you keep? The one you refer to as your journal does it contain your daily stream of consciousness writing or/and daily reflections or ….
    Would it be best to keep only one journal with writing and visual notes or several ones?
    Wishing you and all your readers all the best for 2015!

    • The best way for you to keep a journal is to keep one you love writing in and do it anyway that feels good. Don’t want to paint in it? Great. Don’t. Want to paint on one page and write on the next? Perfect–do just that. There is no wrong way to keep a journal. I keep all of mine–and because I used to put them in cardboard boxes and in the basement, I lost a bunch to a flood. So I got smart and moved the rest up to the attic. A year later, we got a new roof and the roofer set the house on fire, so I lost the rest of them. To answer your question–the journal with business notes gets filed on a shelf in the office. I keep them for about five years. They have useful information in them, but it is dated. So after five years, they get pitched. The Commonplace Journal is a wonderful combination of ideas, story titles, movie stubs with a 5-word reaction to the movie, fast sketches, thoughts. I keep those. Then I have practice journals, where I am developing my collage. The goal of a practice journal is to fill it as fast as possible, working on a theme, until you can’t change or work on the theme anymore. I just learned that technique this year, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’ll keep those, too, because they have great thematic progressions in them, and I can work on collages based on the ideas in the journal.

  4. I have a big fat one that has lasted a long time, it’s an A4 sized day-a-page diary from 2002 which was never used at the time. I don’t make daily entries but now that it’s almost full I’m starting to go through it to find the bits to cut out and keep and then . . . it’s burn, baby, burn! I’m looking forward to getting rid of the dross and keeping the hard won gold.

  5. I don’t like reading old journals. Too much bad stuff in there and good but what’s the point of rehashing your feelings of 20 years ago. And, as you know, we have a fear of someone ever getting their hands on them…

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