It all started when I was nine and I was given my first journal. It was blue, with a soft pastel picture of Holly Hobbie on the cover. The cover was secured with a dangling golden lock. I promptly lost both tiny keys, so I learned to ease the lock open with a bobby pin. I gripped a pencil and leaned close to painstakingly scrawl my deepest thoughts.
Of course, now that I am somewhat older the idea of writing a daily letter to my diary sounds pretty boring. To be honest, it got a little boring even back then, and I stopped writing every day within the first week. After that, I only returned to my paper confidant when I fought with my mom and I needed an outlet for brilliant and indignant one-sided arguments.
There's no reason to leave the wonders of journaling to the grade school set, however. The process of capturing thoughts on paper has been shown to have a whole host of benefits. It improves learning, students make practical connections to what they are studying. What's more, journaling has been shown to nudge people in terms of self-growth and interpersonal characteristics. Many writers consider journaling an irreplaceable source of creativity, including such famous writers as Anaïs Nin, Virginia Woolf, and Henry David Thoreau.
Of course, it's no use knowing the benefits of an activity if it seems so boring that you can't imagine adding it to your life. Fortunately, a non-conformist approach to keeping a modern journal can help you shake off the dread of the "Dear Diary" slog. If keeping a journal is all about exploring what you think and expressing who you are, then the format should be one that makes your heart quicken. Instead of simply reciting the events of your life there are many ways to tell your story. After all, in today's multimedia world, a block of text feels like a single-note expression. Here are just a few creative ways to add to the story you have to tell.
- Photos. Whether you include pictures of the memories you're capturing or scenes that evoke your feelings, snapshots can add life to your words.
- Color. Some writers like to add a wash of watercolor to their pages to underscore the feel of each entry. For people who respond emotionally to color, opening their journal to a rainbow of hues can feel like coming home.
- Memorabilia. Tucking ticket stubs, programs, or even menus into your journal keeps life in your memories. As an added advantage, you won't have to keep stashing these special scraps in random places when you don't know where to put them, but you don't want to give them up.
- Doodles. Are you the sort of person who absentmindedly doodles in the margins? It's not a distraction; it's another way of expressing yourself.
Journals can be as Unique as You Are
The best part is that your journal is for you, reflecting your personality and preferences. You can use your journal to shine a light on whatever you want to! Here are just a few kinds of nontraditional journals.
How Journaling Improves Learning
Anyone who has immersed themselves in learning knows how all-consuming it can be. Capturing that obsession, and even the overwhelmed feeling that sometimes comes along with it, can help you process and retain what you're studying. Besides, you're learning about it because it fascinates you, right?Cooking. Whether you're working your way through one cookbook, like our heroine in Julie & Julia, or diving into learning how to make the perfect loaf of bread, it's a good idea to track your successes and failures. Pictures of your creations, annotated recipes that tell about the tricky parts, and rapturous descriptions of your successes will all be a great resource when you want to revisit what you made. Photography. This is a perfect way to record your progress. Preserve your photographs along with commentary about what worked and what didn't. Talk about how you overcame technical problems. Best of all, devote some space to celebrate those pictures that thrill you. Drawing. More than a sketchbook, a drawing journal is a place to muse about your journey as an artist. Include pictures of work that influences you, or drawings that baffle you.
Use your Journal to Capture Memories forever
If this sounds suspiciously like a child's recitation of their day, have no fear. There's no need to pin down every event in your life. But storing up certain treasures to relish someday? That's a gift to your future self.
- Travel. Being in unfamiliar surroundings can be overwhelming. You'd be amazed at how many details are swiftly forgotten. Tuck them away so you can remember all the wonder of that trip of a lifetime. Writing, photographs, menus from special restaurants, and even maps of the area you're exploring can bring it all back long after you're home.
- Children. Traditional baby books can feel like a chore instead of a celebration. But a creative journal about this journey you're on with your child can be a joy. You could write them a letter every year on their birthday, or collect their best quotes. I used to keep a list of the strangest things I said to my kids, called "Things I never imagined I would say to another human being." If I'd put it in a journal I might know where it was today.
Pets. A unique way to remember the days you spend with your special pet would be to write a journal from their point of view. Do you ever talk for your pet, complete with their own voice? This is the same idea, in journal form.
How can Journaling Enhance Personal growth?
As you make your way through life, there are times where change is afoot. Spending some time in deliberate reflection can help you head in the direction you want.
- Spirituality. Whatever your approach to belief may be, exploring faith can be an emotional experience. Writing about it can help clarify your thinking. Some believe that writing helps them open up to a larger experience of faith.
- Word of the year. It's become a popular idea to pick a word as a New Year's activity, as a focus or goal for the upcoming year. Personally, I usually have trouble remembering my word by February. Writing about your word and illustrations of it in your life can sensitize you to the concept.
- Dreams. When we sleep our brains sift through everything we've experienced. Dreams are how brains organize and make sense of that input. Keeping track of your dreams, particularly ones that have strong of emotional impact (either positive or negative) can help you identify important patterns or changes in your life. Dream journals can also be a well of creativity. Edgar Allen Poe and Paul McCartney are just a few of the artists who credit dreams as sources of their work. A dream journal is a powerful way to explore the adventure that is you.
- Grief. Not all journeys are joyful ones. When people journal about their feelings and thinking after a difficult experience, they are able to see the positive outcomes better, even after a loss. Writing your way through the hard work of grief can help you find your way to the other side. Whether you're processing a death, divorce, or illness, a journal can be your companion on the way.
A journal can be a friend in many situations. You can depend on it to help you puzzle through the process of learning, capture memories to treasure, or be a confidant as you grow. There's no reason to leave the idea of journaling behind as a boring obligation of childhood. Bringing your unique way of expressing yourself to your journal will give it creative energy and joy. Creating a modern journal can help you unleash your creative potential as it did for some of the great minds of the world.
For help finding the perfect journal for you, give us a call or look contact us via email. We are always happy to help with your selection, including personalization options to make your journal truly unique and yours.
We would really appreciate any comments you might have. Did you enjoy this article? If you keep a travel journal yourself, or if you are inspired to take one along on your next trip, we’d love to hear from you and maybe even publish your Guest Blog for our readers. You can always write to us at Info@epica.com