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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Journals, Journals... How I Journal, How to Journal.

 Recently, I have been asked more than once how I do journal, which is the general concept of a journal, and how to start and manage keeping a journal. So I thought I'd write a post to be of help to anyone interested in this subject.

Let's start saying a journal is not the same of a diary.
diary is a book where you write a chronicle of the facts happened on a certain day, a mere description of events.
When you journal, you turn inwards, analize facts, write down feelings. It's an istrument of growth and healing.

As I have shared before, I don't like having anyone in my energetic space, and so I keep all of my journals private. I keep journals for the purpose of being instruments of growth and so, they're far from being perfect, and of course, they're meant just for me.

One of the excuses with themselves that I notice people usually find (this has emerged several times during conversations with friends) is that they fear their journals/diaries be read by someone else, and so they refrain from doing that. They do "gratitude lists" and "journaling" analizing facts in their own mind- from my own experience of many years of keeping journals, and also from that of many others you can easily find in our online arts and crafts community, verbal lists of thoughts are not as powerful and effective as written ones. I find there's a particular energy that arises when I just sit and open my journal, grab the pencil and lay it down on paper. Thoughts flow in quite a different manner. You may even be greatly surprised from thoughts that come out of you.
What I believe, but this is just my belief and personal opinion, is that this happens because we empty our mind writing things down, allowing new thoughts, inspiration and energy to flow towards us. This cannot happen if you keep all of your thoughts in mind. You don't make room for new, and for growth.
In our home there's great respect for journals and that kind of things. I encourage you to cultivate respect and trust in your household, instead of hiding your notebooks with the crazy fear that someone reads them.

This being said, I will show you a few details of my journals I feel comfortable sharing, and some tips or ideas on how to keep them, just as a way to inspire you to maybe start one. I believe that in journaling, as in life in general, the key is to stay true to yourself as much as possible. What comes natural to you is what you manage to do effortlessly, joyfully, best, are most satisfied with, and generally is effective for the purpose you do that. On the contrary, something that you don't feel natural, is sure to add to your workload, stress, anxiety etc.

Therefore I encourage everyone to do what's their own "cup of tea".
I'm pretty certain that at this point a question will arise- how to know what is natural to me? How do I feel it?

My answer is, just follow your instinct! :) Shut the chattering mind, turn off the left side of your brain, and simply, as simple as this... start! Gather the supplies that you love just thinking of them without analyzing too much.

And most importantly, do not compare your journals to others you may have seen made by other people. Your journal must reflect your heart and soul, and not someone else's heart and soul and ideas.
Grab a plain/checkered/ruled/watercolor notebook, a ring binder, a music book, a pretty store bought notebook, an old moleskine/agenda from years ago (even used!)... anything, but start today! Anyone can start journaling at whatever age... It doesn't have to be perfect- if you let the left side of your brain interphere, you'll never start. If you let the perfectionist in you win, you'll never start and always regret or feel stressed about not having! What's best is that your journal is for your eyes only! You don't have to show it to the world and say, hey look at how pretty my pages are!

My journals are just for me, for my soul to expand, heart soak in and mind wander freely.
What's more beautiful and liberating than that?

These below are just some of the journals I've kept for many years now. Quite a few are written from cover to cover, and some are works in progress (they are different types of journals- inspiration journals, gratitude journals, daily, etc etc).
I have kept all scattered around the house (and some are currently here and there) but a few weeks ago I thought to gather the majority of them in baskets, so I can find them when needed (usually I have to go hunting! :)).

I also have a large number of sketchbooks, but those are a completely different thing, located in other few baskets in another corner of my studio.

Some of my journals.

My Eco chic journals (see here and here) are a lovely way to recycle scraps of papers I don't want to toss away.

Other journals I made, from scratch or just adding a fabric cover to old agendas.

This has been made from a book.

All those I receive from friends, handmade or store- bought, I always use as Gratitude Journals.
Once I complete one, I start another.

Some are plain Moleskines.

I add letters inside, to the Universe, myself or Santa :)

When choosing a book to use as art journal, be sure it's not too old, ads it tends to fall apart (like this of mine).

My general tips regarding journal/diary keeping are:

1. You'll find the time if you want to do that. It's vital that you feel a desire to keep a journal/diary. There are people who prefer to do all kind of different things rather than writing (wherever) or getting messy and creative on paper.

2. Do what's natural to you. It may be just writing, using a pencil (as I do), a pen, a fountain pen, a marker, colored pencils. It may be a collage, art, whatever journal, even a poetry one.

3. Start without expectations and think and go one day at a time. It's not necessary to write in there every day if you don't feel inspired. Do it at your own pace. You may be a prolific writer or fill in a notebook in years. Either things are fine- it's supposed to be relaxing and growing time, not a chore!

4. Keep your journals for yourself only, when you share them it's likely you'll feel pressure to be perfect.

5. Keep your journals in a visible spot for you to see it- you may forget about them if it's not a habit, yet.

6. Find a corner of the house/garden or wherever you feel at peace and comfortable to write (might be a coffee shop or a park, your kitchen, studio, a bench in the garden...). You may want to arrange a little table/space on a table just for it, with pens or supplies, or make a portable inspiration station where you keep your journals and can have easy access to them and bring them along with you.

7. Do it in quiet,  possibly far from noise.

8. Do what's natural to you also regarding the time of the day when writing in your journals- it may be early morning, late night, coffee break, lunch etc. It's important that you do what you feel comfortable and natural. For example, I don't like having schedules, so I go freely. I have some journals I write in each and every day, even the most difficult ones- they're my Gratitude Journal and Daily Journal, and I always write them at night in bed, because it's the best time for me to do so. Some others I use sporadically, others again I use often to jot down epiphanies, inspiring quotes, etc. and I don't have a set time of the day when doing that.

9. Do not compare your journals with the perfect ones you see on magazines and books... for sure those pages are great ones that made it to the glossy pages, but you cannot see all of the other pages or the "behind the scenes" journals from the same person. Likely, they have the messy and imperfect ones for their eyes only.

10. How to begin? If you want it (see point number 1) go and grab a pen/pencil and whatever notebook you can find around your home... and start now! Start without thinking too much, and keep it in the same way. You'll be surprised in the end at how much beauty you'll find in there after some time, even if the writing is quick and messy, there are letters, cards and post its tucked between the pages, and on and on. It's your life unfolding.

11. Last but definitely not least, nothing is fixed!! Give yourself permission to be free and change idea/method as you go. There's so much beauty and freedom and growth in that!

Monica xo


  1. I'm glad I came across your post this am. My goal today was to find my old journal and begin again!
    Thanks for the inspiration. Great post!

  2. I loved reading your thoughts on journaling, I usually do mostly art and sketching but it's always in the back of mind to do more writing, sometimes I'm overwhelmed by all the thoughts in my head, so those post is inspiring. I also love seeing baskets full of journals, and a glimpse into some of your journals. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  3. When we are doing a journal, our journal , our heart speaks , I think.
    A big hug in the afternoon ,

  4. great post Monica. I like the idea of writing things down to create space for new thoughts! I have made a space for my journal, which I can see, with pens and pencils, but I'm still waiting to begin really. I might try a bit of watercolour on papers and stick them in. Anyway nice to see all the different ways of doing it! Heather x


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