The whole point of (keeping a notebook) is to make it yours … and do it in your own way … That’s how you need to treat every notebook you’ve got! You need to be okay with whatever you put in there being complete garbage … This means that even if you don’t know how to draw, it’s okay for you to draw. Even if you don’t know how to doodle, it’s okay for you to doodle. Even if you don’t know how to write, you know what? You are totally okay to just go write something. And if you don’t like it, you can tear it up and throw it in your neighbor’s yard.” — Merlin Mann
I am not, shall we say, blessed with artistic ability. Well, I have a hard time picturing what I want something to look like and I have zero spacial skills, true story. (If I’m not wearing my glasses, the world is flat. I thought that’s how it was supposed to look until I was 39 and went to the eye doctor. Things just … stick out … like that in real life?! How weird.)
My girls ARE quite artistic. Abby made me a bullet journal for Christmas a couple of years ago, which was super fun and gorgeous. They spend a lot of time on their monthly spreads because they enjoy that kind of creative outlet.
I, on the other hand, get stressed out by the thought of drawing a stick figure, never mind some crazy two-page spread like you see on Instagram. Look, I am not kidding when I say I have a hard time visualizing anything but lines and words on a page. But hey, I mean, it’s my journal. It just has to work for me.
And if it doesn’t, well, I can rip out that page and toss it in the neighbor’s yard. (I don’t know why that is such a hilarious image, but it tickles me to no end.) It’s a notebook, for God’s sake, not the crown jewels.
I set up a few static pages at the beginning of my journal so I can track day-by-day what’s interesting to me: Calendar pages (one per month) to track appointments, birthdays and my period; a book log to keep track of days I read as well as the books I finish (titles only); anxiety days (out of curiosity because I think I’m getting better but am I really?); an exercise log (yoga, walk breaks, etc.); and the Great Reading Retreat Clean-out (I mark the days I work on decluttering and jot notes about what I’m doing). I also have a couple of pages that detail other areas I’m trying to be mindful about, such as a list of five questions I like to answer at the end of each week in the pages of my journal.
On the bulleted pages, I start with a monthly calendar in list form — who needs boxes? — and then it’s just a free-for-all of whatever I feel like writing. I journal in the mornings to ease into the day: Make my coffee, sit down and write. I can’t say I’m doing much more than sorting through what happened the day before and reminding myself of any must-dos, but the process is settling somehow, regardless of the nonsense I’m producing.
And trust me, it’s all nonsense. This is just for me, so I don’t get hung up on making it anything other than what I need it to be at that moment: A place to vent, to review the books I’ve read, to write down the gifts of the previous day, to work through what is happening / has happened / what I’d like to see happen.
I have my favorite brands of journals and pens, but we don’t need to go into all that. What brand of supplies you use isn’t nearly as important (or interesting) as what you want to do with your journal. You could have a 29-cent notebook and a pencil you found underneath a couch cushion and it would still do the trick.
I’m a little embarrassed to show pages because they are absolute crap but then again, that’s the point, right? That our journals do not have to be Instagram-worthy?