Journal Bits – March 5

Occasionally I'll share unedited recent bits from my daily journal. These make nice fillers on days I'm not ready to post something I'm working on. Hope you enjoy and get some inspiration, value, or perhaps a chuckle from them.

Good talk this morning about writer’s block [w.b.]. My takeaway was that my denial this affliction does not exist for me, based on my definition of it not knowing what to write or can’t produce words on the page, had a hidden loophole I wasn’t seeing. I have [or have had, not lately!] the w.b. form of unable to just start writing. This is, in essence, a habit issue as it is a “how much do you want this?” issue. In the past I’ve waited on the right structure, a good time to do it, the right organization of the writing area, etc., as my procrastinative muse. Is that the truth of this? Are these valid reasons or is something going on hidden in my subconscious? I’m past the “can I be published” and “I should have more work to my name by now” regrets, but there may be more darkness to this lurking somewhere.

Embracing an attitude of common sense plus wait and see seems to be the program these days for most of my body’s aches, pains, and weirdness. Some issues react faster than others to this “get out of the way” approach, but all tend to improve or least lessen with this approach.

Looks like travel this year is camping, and based on heavy TV population these days, likely not going to state parks or formal campgrounds. Would like to find a cabin to rent, maybe even update NY and invite boys up for the weekend. Sticking closer to home this year until vaccinated and others state behaving sanely makes sense.

Glimmers of how I yearn for days to be consistent in lighting up corners of my thinking and awareness. Fore-front is the realization that only my lack of a habitual effort to daily take up pen, pencil, or keyboard block the path ahead. It isn’t organization, or waiting until task a, b, or c is complete: it’s me stopping and writing, regardless of peripheral or collateral distractions, influences, or demands. As I’ve often heard inside my head, “If it’s important to you to write, you’ll make it your top priority.” Humbleness is finally understanding that the what (sit down & write) tops the how (nice studio, chair, desk, etc., etc.). While all this seems d’oh obvious, apparently it’s eluded my importance radar for a long time. Perhaps no longer.

Recording a Life’s Events

Some of you may have tried user the multi-year diaries before, designed to capture highlights on specific days across three-, five-, or ten-year spans. I’ve dabbled in a five-year version, but wasn’t consistent enough plus didn’t really like the layout, and five-years felt like an enormous commitment… so I abandoned it.

Being a stationery nerd who occasionally just has to check out the latest on JetPens.com, I stumbled onto this Midori three-year diary late last year and loved the layout, the size, and ooh-mama that slipcase. At the time they were out of stock, but recently my color choice finally came back in stock. How did I know? What kind of stationery nerd would I be without a JetPens wish list and the de rigueur “notify me when back in stock” button clicked?

What follows is mostly a visual review, but here are some stats and impressions I have, although I’ve yet to write in it.

Oh, and if you think these are for January-December timeframes, ain’t necessarily so. I plan to start my three-year devotion to capturing each day’s highlights and importance on my birthday in March. Seems like an appropriate anniversary and look-back date for the next three years.

Specs & Initial Impressions

  • Size: 4.5″ x 7.3″ x .9″ thick
  • Layout: Three days per page, all open dated (20__)
  • Pages: ~ 480, ivory color
  • Line spacing: 6.5mm
  • Binding: Hardback
  • Extras: Two ribbon markers, slipcase
  • Cost: $35
  • Color options: Three-year brown/green or light blue/red; five-year black/brown or red/pink
  • My impressions:
    • Midori paper, fountain-pen friendly and should be a delight to write on
    • Lines available should be sufficient per day
    • Binding quality is superb
    • Love the slipcase for long-term keeping

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.

Tools of the Trade: Pencils & Pens

One of the joys of being a stationery nerd and a writer is blending the two passions together. I’ve settled in a routine of using specific pencils & pens for certain writing tasks. It may see nerdy to go to such lengths, but there’s comfort in using familiar tools.

Fountain pens, L-R: Franklin Christoph P66 Antique Glass (MCI nib), Edison Baltimore Limited (FCI nib), Diplomat Aero (MCI nib), and a Nakaya Neo (MCI nib) – all in a Rickshaw Bags plus pen roll coiled in a fav mug. To the right: yellow/orange highlighter Slendy+ eraser stick, red pencil for occasional use.

As a long-time lover of fountain pens, for years I would keep too many inked up resulting in extra work to clean those not used enough. After reducing my collection down to my favorites, I’ve settled on four fountain pens to keep in rotation, each inked with a different color. Fountain pen is my tool of choice for journaling, notetaking, or writing letters, and using different color inks adds to the enjoyment.

When it comes to pencils I also have specific ones I use for first- and second-draft work (for everything from blog posts to articles to essays to poetry). I stick with Blackwing pencils (extra-firm cores for everything except poetry where I use soft cores), and there’s a nice variety available between their production pencils and the Volumes limited editions. I love going analog and using pencils longhand for these drafts, since it slows down my thinking and there’s something more authentic about the tactile feel of pencil on paper than finger tips on a keyboard. And if you’re wondering Continue reading “Tools of the Trade: Pencils & Pens”

Journal Bits – January 15

Occasionally I’ll share unedited bits from my daily journal. These make nice fillers on days I’m not ready to post something I’m working on. Hope you enjoy and get something from them.

‘To the journal!’ That is the rally cry I hear every morning. It doesn’t always become the first thing I do each day though. Example in point: Today I woke late and had coffee and breakfast. After I did a quick online read of the inbox, my daily cartoons I love, then both New York Times crosswords (mini and daily). Washed and dried dishes, dressed for the day, made a cup of hot tea, and here I am…finally…answering the call albeit 2-1/2 hours later. Still, the pen writes, the ideas flow, the pages fill, and all is good.