My Journals and Notebooks

To many writers, journals and notebooks are synonymous and I can understand that. However, for me and countless other writers, they represent two different practices, contents and aspects of our lives. 
Some of my completed journals
My journals are for personal writing: ranting, sorting and understanding situations, relationships and any other life issue. They capture and guard my emotions, whether they are rational or irrational. Sometime, I just scribble, to clear my mind, which might be clogged and cluttered after a hectic day.
I collect journals like an addict. I see one, it calls my name and I can’t rest until I buy it. Tenderly I place it just so on the shelf with my treasured collection. The only problem is that when I am nearing the end of my current journal, I agonize for weeks and sometimes even months, over which one I should draft into service next.
Some journals from my unused collection 
Usually, it is only when I have written on the last page, and can’t put off choosing another any longer, that I reach for a replacement.

The first few entries are always written tentatively. After all, it is a new journal, most often with a cover to die for and pages I would hate to “mess up”. Eventually though, I re-settle into my journaling practice and the former stress gives way to effortless journaling.


Notebooks are for entries related to writing: sparks of inspiration, clips from books, magazines and overheard conversations, quotations that grab my heart, research for works in progress and all the usual writerly things writers collect. 

Notebooks I keep near at hand
A box-load of old, filled notebooks sits in my closet and the last five I’ve used, stay on my desk. Not a day goes by that I don’t go digging for treasure between the covers of at least one of them.

I have numerous computer files with similar information as  I have in my notebooks. Yet, I gravitate to my hand-written notes. I get lost easily, as I turn from page to page trying to remember why and where I wrote what I wrote. It is always an adventure and I never have to contend with power outages, crashes and viruses.
Although I may not always hasten to record what springs to mind (as I wrote in my last post), I keep a notebook on my bedside table (I am more inclined to reach over and jot down something during the night). The one on my kitchen counter has food and water stains because ideas come while I am cooking, washing dishes or doing some other chore that involves water or some kind of liquid. I keep a notebook in the living room, next to my favorite chair, for writing recipes and interesting things I hear during one of my regular shows or a movie. 

Sometimes, my days are so packed with non-writing-related activities that I am convinced that I am anything but a fulltime writer. Then when, I think about how often, in the midst of those non-writing-related activities, I stop to write, well, I have to admit that I am a fulltime writer: ready, willing and quick to write in a snap, regardless of what is holding my attention at any given moment in my day.
Are you a writer? What’s your view on journals and notebooks? How do you use them? Are they the same to you or do you hold them as separate homes for your personal life and your writing.  


15 thoughts on “My Journals and Notebooks

  1. I love and use journals, like the ones in your top photo. But I only use them for my writing life … My weekly itineraries are always written neatly in one. When you look through the itinerary journal, it does give a pretty accurate picture of my life of writing as I proceed through different projects.

    And the others are journals I keep for various writing projects I have going on. I prefer jotting down thoughts on plot, character development, concert notes, that sort of thing, instead of logging into Word and typing it. It just seems more authentic to me, somehow.


  2. Joanne:

    Interesting. You use your journals (instead of your computer) to flesh out your writing projects and I use mine to flesh out my life. I collect “stuff” in my notebooks, for my writing assignments/projects but I flesh them out on my computer.


  3. I am so like you with the journals. I love to buy them and can't wait to use a new one. I have them for years and years and scribble or write whatever is in my head at the time! Also have a drawer too of notebooks as a just in case:)


  4. I love journals. I collect them, too, but not quite as many as you have. It's so fun to start a new one, crack it open, put the first words down. I use notebooks (ones my kids never filled up from school) for writing notes. I carry a smaller notebook in my purse for quick ideas, or an interview (schedule or happenstance). Great post!


  5. Hey there Mary,

    You too huh? Aren't they the coolest things to linger over in the bookstores? And yes, as much as I agonize over which one to use when an old one is chock full of my stuff, the beginning is always, always exciting. You know, like Christmas morning.


  6. Cheryl, how fun to see your journals! I did not know that you were so passionate about them, just like precious children. Wonderful to read about…

    I do love beautiful bound journals, but I really do find that I do my “best,” freest, most soulful writing in spiral notebooks, the cheap Target kind. I have scads and piles. When I wrote under the Tree on retreat recently, that is what I wrote it. My hand just flies across the page.

    Though I have crafted special themed journals too, with clippings and art and a drawing or two. Those are fun. My favorite is one I did during the year I journeyed deeper into the heart of Mother Mother. Now it is a true keepsake.

    Blessings on your writing dear friend…xo


  7. Hi The Journal CEO, So glad you stopped by and left a comment. I love to see them too, especially because I know the thoughts, feelings, stories and dreams they hold. It's quite an adventure to page through them and rediscover what I've left there.


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