New Year, New Journal?

Now that you’ve slept in, recovered and started the year, should you start a new journal? Should you continue in the one you already have? How about the ones that have three pages filled in and abandoned?

Maybe a journal is too ambitious, too much work, not interesting. In that case, you might want to consider some other choices:

JoanDidionWrite yourself a letter, summing up 2014 and writing down what you want for 2015. Write down the big, crazy things you can never have and the small, pointy things you want but are afraid to own.  You only have to do this once a year. Put it in an envelope and put the envelope in your underwear drawer so you can find it again. Read it every now and then.

Whenever you feel ambitious, read through it and decide if you want to take a step toward one of the things you want. Figure out the smallest possible step that would move you toward it. As Martha Beck says, “Got it? Good! Now you can take steps to make it happen. And as you take one step toward the thing you want, it really does take a hundred steps toward you.”

Tear out the few pages in each of the many journals you started but never finished.  Staple them together, with a blank page in front and back and write the dates of the pages on the blank page. Put them in a drawer where you will see them. When you feel like it, write some comments in a different colored ink–what was right, what you see now that you didn’t see before.

Get a three-ring binder or other easy-to-keep folder with standard-size

The original cool calendar page. Just a year ago, a lot of people were convinced we'd all be dead by now. That's a good idea to review and see how it's changes. And where are those people now?

The original cool calendar page. Just a year ago, a lot of people were convinced we’d all be dead by now. That’s a good idea to review and see how thinking changed. And where are those people now?

pages so you never have to do more than print out your writing and put it in the folder. Add the date.  Don’t worry if you don’t do it often. Here are some things you can keep track of.  Imagine if you had kept track of interesting things for the last five years. You’d have fun comparisons and get new ideas.

Make a list of phrases you started using in the last three years. Cray-cray, bae, awesome sauce, totes. Where did you hear them first? Why did you start to use them? How do they make you feel when you use them? When others use them?

Make a list of phrases you would like to ban from the world. (See above). Why are you tired of them? What do they mean to you now? What changed?

The purpose of a journal is not to burden you by tracking every thought or action. The purpose of a journal is to help you figure out why you think, act, and dream the way you do. And then do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. That’s all. Keeping a journal not a religion, shouldn’t be a burden, and only works if you work at it and find it worthwhile.

If you decide to keep a journal, here are five things you can put on the first page. If you think those are lame, here are five different ideas for your first journal page.  And if you are afraid of making a mistake in your journal, here are some ways of fixing messed-up journal pages.

–Quinn McDonald keeps a journal, but not everyday. Enough to keep track of the person she is evolving into.

16 thoughts on “New Year, New Journal?

  1. I really wanted to start a new journal for the new year, but I didn’t finish the old one in time. The new one was ready – but the old one was only half full so I couldn’t abandon it. It’s OK, though – I generally write every day so it will be full by the end of the month.

    • There is no rule about this. I’ve abandoned journals with lots of pages left. It’s not a discipline issue, it’s a new paper or new idea issue. You can do whatever pleases your heart.

  2. Happy New Year to you Quinn. I usually keep a special midwinter journal during the holiday season and then just continue with my regular journal and there’s no question whatsoever that I will continue to journal. I love it too much and it gives me too much to ever stop.

    P.S. As a non native speaker of the English language I think words like ‘cray cray’ and ‘totes’ should be outlawed. 😉

    • As a teacher of language and grammar, I agree with you. I love new words, but the diminuatization of our language all makes us sound like petulant 3-year olds. I love the idea of a special holiday journal, then getting back to the other one. Great idea!

  3. That picture – I thought I’d die laughing. Absolutely classic Quinn!!! Maybe I relate a little too closely with it!

  4. Happy New Year Quinn! I’m keeping my old one as it is only half full, I love filling notebooks so I almost never abandon them before there cramped with text, images and journaling… 🙂

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