Journals, Diaries, and Notebooks, Oh My!

Day 10 – “J” Journaling

One of the first writing endeavors I partook in as a child was keeping a diary. Since that original diary with a cute heart-shaped lock and key, I have been a terrible journal-keeper. I always start out with the very best of intentions. Typically as part of a moment in which resolutions are set (at the start of a new year or a birthday or anniversary), I excitedly purchase a new journal and the very first entry is always something to the extent of “This go around I WILL fill this journal up and will write on a regular basis.”


Some of the many, many journals I have started over the years.
Some of the many journals I have kept over the years. And no, not a single one is completely full 😦

I am the epitome of a journaling failure. I set unrealistic expectations for myself such as “I will write every day, at least one page” and after a few weeks of a good stint, I get burned out and quit the routine. I’ll make a few other entries over the following few weeks or so, and then the journal is dead. A number of months, a year later when I get the itch to start keeping a diary again, my mood has changed and the journal that I once had just doesn’t “feel” right in some way. Whether that be the style, the cover, the spacing of the lines, the thickness of the paper, etc., I always find something wrong with the journal and am compelled to spend unnecessary money on a new one. *shakes head*

I have countless half-filled journals lining a shelf in my closet. When I was younger, I always viewed unfinished journals as a gross failure and threw them away. I kick myself on a regular basis for doing that. I would love to get inside my 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 year old head and read how I perceived and observed certain things.

I try… I really do try, now as a grown ass woman, to fill journals. I’ve had my current one since the beginning of the year and it’s almost half full. When I got it, I set no expectations with regards to writing routines; rather I simply told myself that this would be the first one I would fill completely. So far, so good!

Journaling has always been a different kind of writing catharsis for me. Where writing fiction or poetry gives me a creative release, keeping a journal allows me to be disgustingly raw and honest, vulgar and emotionally disturbed, all in the privacy of my own little book. I have been able to use so much of what I’ve written over the years in my creative writing, altering scenes (naturally) and tailoring them to fit that piece.

Do you keep a journal? If so, why do you keep one and what keeps you motivated to stick to the routine? If not, why have you never developed the habit?


23 thoughts on “Journals, Diaries, and Notebooks, Oh My!

  1. I’ve always been a bit jealous of those who are faithful diary writers. It’s so awesome that they have been able to keep every memory in written word. Like you, I always started a diary with the intentions of writing everyday, only to fall short…usually about 360 days short 🙂 This was when I was young so I probably just wasn’t as motivated to write in my diary as I was to spend time with my friends and boyfriend. Now, it’s health issues that often keep me from being able to blog or write something.

  2. My wife has dutifully kept one for many years, which impresses me. I started keeping one on vacations long ago, then was able to keep it going all year. I did that for 5 or 6 years then trailed off. It’s interesting to go back and read those journals, so I wish I’d kept it up.
    Nowadays I keep one on the computer, irregularly. I suppose it’s just a discipline that has to be developed.

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one with that problem, haha. XD I love journals…. but filling them? Ehhh…. at the very least in Japan they’re relatively cheap.

  4. OMG – I loved this post. I could relate to every word. I too really wish I had kept my journals from my youth. I would probably cringe at the angst of a 12-year-old but what new insights it might contain?!!!
    I have journals I’ve acquired over the years that literally have NOTHING in them. I’ve never uncovered the inspiration of what exactly those pages were meant to contain.

    1. I have a collection of journals I’ve purchased, but never used over the years. They may or may not be hiding on a shelf in my closet behind clothes so no one finds them and uncovers this impulsive journal purchasing habit of mine….

  5. Oh my gosh! I’m writing about similar things for this week’s A-to-Z, and at least twice, I describe the collection of blank journals (and new pens) I end up with in my efforts to motivate myself to get to work, but also the perfectionism that kills my best intentions. A painter-friend of mine walks around his classroom and randomly scrawls marks on his students’ work so they won’t treat it so preciously and will loosen up a bit. I’ve taken a similar approach to journals, scribbling somewhere or pasting a sticker on it … anything to kind of break it in a bit.

  6. I never managed to keep a diary. Maybe for 3 days or so. But I have some beautiful moleskine notebooks all filled up, but I absolutely write everything into them, because I am not so keen on loose paper, which is lot to easily…

  7. I’m like you. I have about twenty started journals. All sizes. Some cheapie ones and a couple of really nice leather ones. I’m changing though. Now I keep a journal on hand and use it for notes, book quotes, thoughts at the end if the day, and just about anything else.

    1. It makes me so happy to know that I’m not the only one who just can’t seem to finish a single damn journal!!! 😉

      Notebooks for taking notes, observations , thoughts, etc., sure thing. But a journal? HA!

  8. I think that I’m like you, I have started and stopped keeping a journal more times than I can count. I still am going to give it yet another try…who knows, maybe the umpteenth time is the charm. 🙂

  9. Oh yeah, I’ve been down this road. I also threw some journals away because they weren’t full when I was younger. Journaling has yet to be something I’m good at, and I’ve kind of resigned myself to it never being so. I love to write, and I love to blog, but for some reason, journals aren’t my thing. I like your idea of just committing to fill one up. Maybe I should give that a try!

  10. I was a faithful journal writer when it was the only writing I did (ie when I was too scared to try to write anything people might actually see, and when the kids were so young that I had no brain). I have five or six in my closet starting from the beginning of University, and they cut off when I really started getting my feet wet with fiction and blogging.

    I think I only have so many words in me a day, and no matter how hard I try to get back into keeping a journal, I keep forgetting about it.

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