A few days ago, I showed a narrator friend my collection of journals, which I started keeping consistently in 1999. She was interested in beginning a journal and asked some questions that started me thinking about things I’ve learned about adding new entries to my journals.
I think many people may wish to start a journaling practice at the beginning of the new year. This list, which is no particular order, goes beyond the advice and info I shared in my article How I Use My Journal. I encourage you to read that article, too.
I choose to handwrite my entries because it slows your brain, and your thought process is different.
Number the pages and the books so it’s easy to cross-reference from one book to another.
I date my entries and add the time and my location. My location is usually “sitting on the sofa.” (haha) However, my journal is my constant companion. I’ve written on buses, trains, and planes; in hotel rooms; at cafés; and sitting poolside. I’ll also note whether I’m watching a TV show or listening to music. The TV distracts me from writing, whereas music usually enhances my writing.
I bookmark entries with Post-It Tabs if I wrote about something of significance that I want to easily rediscover. The Tab has enough room for me to write a few words on it with a Sharpie to identify why I marked the page.
Those who know me won’t be surprised that I also snap pictures of some entries in Evernote so I always have them available wherever I am. (Shameless plug: If you’d like to learn to use Evernote, I’ve created a video course about it for members of NarratorsRoadmap.com.)
I also create an index in each book. Leuchtturm 1917 books (medium, hard cover, A5 size approximately 8.25″ x 5.75″, plain paper) are my favorite due to their array of cover colors, paper types, and built-in features of numbered pages and index pages. These books have a few preprinted index pages. I usually need to use some blank pages to continue the index.
Leave space after each entry so you can later add things you forgot and/or new, related info/comments.
Change pens and ink colors to suit your mood and make the writing process even more enjoyable. I mainly use fountain pens, rollerballs, and ballpoints. I also have some glitter gel pens that are fun at times. I’ve drawn with colored pencils on some pages. I don’t like to write with pencils, but I suppose they are fine if that’s your choice.
Feel free to type entries on your computer, print them, and affix them to your book pages. Or, you could keep the journal completely digital.
Include different media: pictures; collages; rubber-stamped images; ephemera like business cards, tickets, name tags, receipts, vacation itineraries, cruise newsletter clippings, and anything else that interests you. Your journal is a playground for your creativity!
You have complete freedom to write as much or as little as you want as (in)frequently as you want. I write everyday. Some days I’m expansive and write what I’m thinking and recount conversations I had. Some days I write quick bullet points of things that happened that day and/or to-do lists for the coming days. Some days I mix both styles.
Your journal can be part scrapbook. I include pictures of audiobook cover art and AudioFile Magazine reviews. When I’ve designed an ad or a postcard, I usually include a copy in my journal.
Rather than maintaining a separate commonplace book of quotes, I copy them into a day’s entry. I seem to remember things I’ve written better than things I’ve typed. Quotes can come from anywhere — articles, books, social media posts, and even texts.
You’re not limited to 1 journal! For instance, I maintain a separate book for my harp practice notes. I’ve written answers to journal prompts in their own books. I ordered one of Seth Godin’s Ship It Journals when I was designing NarratorsRoadmap.com.
Write whenever you feel like it. I usually write in the evenings before bed, but I will write at other times, too. I often write in my journal for a bit if I’m feeling stuck at work or annoyed at something. I can let off steam in my journal and refocus my mind on the task at hand.
I hope these thoughts are helpful to you in starting or rejuvenating your journaling practice.
I am so convinced about the power of a journal to help you live your best life that I want to send a special book to 5 of you as a new year’s gift! The first 5 people who send me their mailing address by email before 31 December will receive a journal book with a beautiful cover that relates to audiobook narration. To be eligible, you must supply your mailing address in email, not a comment on this post or sent via social media like Facebook Messenger. I will send out the 5 journal books using USPS Media Mail sometime after I return to work in January.