Curatives for the Soul: Part 1 – Journaling

A four-part series exploring supportive habits to help ease our paths through life: journaling, meditation, nature immersion, and positive philosophy.
Artist: Jonathan Wolstenholme

Days when I journal followed by meditation are ones filled with more peace, creative flow, and open thinking than days when they’re absent. These seemingly simple and passive activities quietly combine into powerful curatives for the soul (at least in my experience).

The question “why journal?” has both complex and simple answers. The simple answer? Journaling is a helpful way to record your thoughts and actions you can later reflect on, or simply use as historical records. The complex answer can be anything from psychological benefits in dealing with grief, depression, anxiety, and more, to an outlet for venting frustrations with the world, a person, or a situation. Either way it’s a pathway to your inner self and a method to document uncensored thoughts, desires, and plans. If you want to dive deeper into the why, Google “why journal” to learn more.

My daily journaling habit tends to yield either pages of self-therapeutic blatherings with repetitive attempts to influence me to change or improve…or rewards of powerful insights, engaging creative ideas, or interesting questions — ones for which I quietly craved answers. And sometimes these answers to questions asked long before suddenly appear while journaling. Either way, it’s all good and positive.

There are as many ways, of course, to journal as there are journalers. My habit and tools evolved from when I started during the 1980s. Those early days (and up to about 10 years ago) were far from consistent. Sometimes months would pass between entries, but eventually my frequency increased. Decades ago my journaling efforts were simpler in paper choice, writing tools, and content. But since my love of all-things-stationery evolved over the years, I now use specific tools to support my now deeply embedded journaling habit.

I keep several journals going for different needs, choosing to isolate my writing efforts within broad categories:

  • Daily general journal – I use four fountain pens with different color inks, rotated each day. The journal is a Nanami Seven Seas The Writer A5 journal with 480 pages of ruled Tomoe River paper.
  • Travel journal – A grey or black ruled Blackwing Slate medium legacy notebook, in which I usually use a fountain pen but sometimes a pencil.
  • Poetry journal – A white ruled Blackwing Slate medium legacy notebook, always with a Blackwing soft-core pencil.
  • Nomadic journals – Basically these more portable A6-sized notebooks are roaming stand-ins for the daily general journal. Currently they are either the Field Notes Dime Novel / Signature, or the Blackwing Slate ruled A6 notebook. I’ve not used these since March of 2019 due to the pandemic, but hopefully I’ll get back to them later this year.
  • Other journals – Used infrequently for projects or special uses, and tend to be whatever journals or notebooks I have in the backstash.

Journalers tend to be all over the map, writing at different times, frequency, places, and styles. My daily journal habit is usually one of the first things I do after getting up early. Sometimes when I skip a morning I’ll journal instead in the evening, but the contents and flow differ between journaling in those two times. For that reason I always note where I’m journaling, date, and time for each entry. I can then better understand my thinking and efforts based on knowing the when and where.

If you haven’t journaled before, I encourage you to try it. Don’t be put off by my approach: use whatever paper, writing tool, and time that’s available to you. Carrying a small, pocket notebook like Field Notes is a great way to start jotting your thoughts and feelings whenever and wherever you can. It won’t take long until you’re hooked and find yourself wanting to choose special, cool notebooks, pens, and pencils to support your new journaling habit.

2 Responses

  1. I love journalling too. And while I find monthly spreads useful, I also am only drawn to the practice because of the daily free-writing aspect of it. It helps slow my thoughts down, and that’s how I work through things that are bothering me. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

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