There are as many reasons to not write in your journal as there are journals. I’ve heard thousands of reasons. If you don’t want to write, don’t. It’s that simple. I’m starting a new journal that I don’t plan on filling with writing. I plan on filling it with designs and interesting paper and raw art. And I won’t write every day. I never have. So what’s your excuse? Do you want to hug it to you? Great. But if you want to try something new—
1. I’ve started so many, why start another?
You don’t have to keep one journal. Keep as many as you like. One for good news, one for bad news. Or one for artwork and one for writing. Or one for ideas and one for dreams. You can keep many journals, all at the same time. Date each page as you write on it, and you will know when you had that dream or idea.
2. I’ve never finished a journal, why start another?
Do you know why you didn’t finish it? Did you get bored with writing or drawing? Did the journal format not suit you anymore? Try a number of journals–small, large, spiral bound, book bound, lined, unlined. You might even feel comfortable with more than one. Don’t give up until you’ve tried several formats.
3. I have no idea what to write.
In the beginning, keep it simple. Make lists instead of writing stories. Make a list of things that made you happy today. Short list? Write another list of things that made you cranky. Make a chart of how much time you spent on Facebook, Twitter, compared to reading and TV. If you went out to eat, write down the name and address of the restaurant, what you ate and what you thought of the food, service and wall art. Write notes about the weather or your mood. After a while, you will be able to make some connections–you get happy when it rains, for example.
4. It takes too long.
You don’t have to write 1,000 words a day. I teach a course called “One Sentence Journaling” in which one sentence a day is all you need to write. Two, if you are ambitious It’s not the amount, it’s the word choice. Write with all your senses.
5. I’ll mess it up.
Who cares if you mess up a page? Or six pages? Your journal is about your life, and life gets messy. If you absolutely hate messing up, I teach a course called “Journal Writing for Perfectionists,” that helps you get over the need to keep it perfect. In the meantime, paste over pages that aren’t perfect. Or:
- Turn the page sideways and write with a different colored ink for an interesting effect.
- paste a map or nice photo over the page you want to get rid off.
- Paint it over with gesso, and paint on that page.
- Collage it. Leave about an inch from the spine and cut the page out and tack in a new page, using the margin you left.
A journal is a way to remember the steps you took on the journey. It’s personal and is part of you. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you can keep different journals of different papers, sizes, and styles. Keeping a journal is an important way to watch yourself grow. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure.
—-Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach who keeps journals in many colors and styles. She made the journals shown on this page and teaches journal making and writing. Her book, Raw Art Jouraling, Making Meaning, Making Art will be published by North Light books in 2011.