Over on Medium I came across an interesting piece on the value of journaling. The best way to learn from yourself talks about the basics of journaling and how it can help with advice that you generate yourself. If you’re unsure about journaling or how to start this article may help.
I’ve had a journal of one sort or another since I was a teenager, or possibly earlier. Being male, but having three sisters, I quickly learned that it was not a manly thing to have a “diary” so gradually it became my “journal.” I no longer have my early attempts at journaling but I do remember having one with an actual lock on it with a wrap around strap. Not manly at all. As far as I can remember most of my early writings were simply descriptions of what I had done that day.
My early interest in journals stemmed in part from books I read like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and others whose titles I’ve forgotten, where finding clues about some childhood mystery was the focus of the story. Writing things down in a notebook, like a junior reporter, and keeping track of clues figured prominently in many of these stories. The need for keeping a record of things happening in a person’s life became something important to me. Somehow one’s life can seem a little more interesting than it actually is when you take the time to write about it.
For me, I have always been an avid reader of books of all kinds. After being taught penmanship and writing in my various schools while growing up, and having read many books, it seemed only natural that I should also try and write myself. Early in junior high school I was even able to take a course in using the typewriter — the olde fashioned kind with ink ribbons and paper. Unfortunately that’s a clue to my age. Little did I know that one day my skill and knowledge of the typewriter would be so important in the new, digital age. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer and yet I have always written.
My journaling has been an on-again-off-again sort of thing over the years but I always seem to gravitate back to it. At times it is my therapy session, or a descriptive itinerary of an important trip that I want to remember, or a way to rant about things that I can’t talk to others about, or simply a way to talk a lot, through writing, without boring somebody else silly. And a journal was always a place to simply experiment with writing itself. Run on sentences, garbled sentences, quick attempts at poetry, you can write it all in your diary without worrying about the end result.
In my current life I have three types of journals; a pocket journal, a full size journal that goes back and forth between electronic and paper, and a sketchbook for my artwork. Sometimes they meld together and overlap but I find that paper quality and paper size are the important factors. I need a small pocket journal, roughly 3 inches by 5 inches like a Moleskine or similar, that is easy to carry so I can always have something with me to make quick notes in or even quick sketches. I need a larger journal for longhand writing when I need to write something long like a journal entry. And I need a sketchbook with unlined paper that can handle pen, pencil, markers, or water color paint. So I end up needing different volumes for different purposes.
In future I plan to post here in the blog more about the journaling, sketching, and writing life as well as any other topics that may be of interest to you, dear readers. If you have any topics or ideas to suggest please contact us through this website.
Thanks, and Happy Journaling!
By Robert K. Foster
The name Daybook Journal was born of a personal Internet search I conducted to find a domain name that was not yet taken or registered. It was important to me that there be a direct and unique Internet address so I kept looking. I went through a number of iterations before I settled on the title. It may not be the best name for a blog/site out there but my hope is that it will take on a meaning and life of its own.
“Daybook” comes from the idea that information of interest to someone can be kept and collected on a daily basis, in chronological order or categorized in a similar way to the commonplace books ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonplace_book ) kept in earlier times. “Journal” indicates not only my love of journals and sketchbooks in their many forms but also my strong belief in the value of journalism in the sense of reporting of the news after having done the research and running due diligence.
Daybook Journal is all about the chronological — or not — record in words and/or pictures of living this life we have all been given. I have kept a written journal off and on for most of my life and have found it valuable in a number of ways. Indeed, part of the goals here on the blog are to talk about how journaling, sketch booking, video journals, scrapbooking, personal photography, and many other art forms, are valuable in life for keeping a personal history — and for other reasons. In addition to pieces about the art, practice, and skill that goes into all things just mentioned we hope to include stories, reports, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, travel journal entries and so on.
Why do journals matter? For me one of the primary reasons is in having a window into your life. If you make a journal public it gives others a window into your life also. That process of communication engenders understanding and compassion for others that have a life completely unique and different from your own. When you see the problems in other peoples’ lives you have a new outlook on your own. It is a form of personal communication that can stay private or allow others to understand your life.
It doesn’t necessarily matter if anyone else ever reads or views or looks at your journal or sketchbook. What is important is that you are communicating, talking about, expressing in words and/or pictures things that are important to you. Things that you feel need to be written about or recorded or drawn or painted. And you are practicing the skills needed to do any of those things in the process.
In his book, Every Book Its Reader, Nicholas A. Basbanes writes about Anne Frank ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Frank ) the author of what we now know as The Diary of a Young Girl:
“Determined to be a professional writer when she grew up, young Anne Frank (1929-1945) worked at developing her skills at shaping narrative. On May 11, 1944, less than three months before her arrest on August 4, 1944, she wrote directly to her diary, which she called “Kitty,” confiding her most fervent aspiration:
“Now about something else; you’ve known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist someday and later on a famous writer. Whether these leanings toward greatness (or insanity?) will ever materialize remains to be seen, but I certainly have the subjects in my mind. In any case, I want to publish a book entitled The Secret Annex [het Achterhuis] after the war. Whether I shall succeed or not, I cannot say, but my diary will be a great help.”
Nicholas A. Basbanes, “Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World”, Harper Perennial, 2006, p. 82.
Therein Anne Frank provides a summation of probably the most important aspect of journaling, being a storehouse and record of ideas, or in the case of a sketchbook, of visual ideas. Sadly she did not live to see her dreams become reality as she died in a German concentration camp.
In closing, I hope you, dear reader, will frequent the (virtual) pages of this blog and help make this a place for all those who love the written word, in its journal and diary form, and love to write the written word.
* * *
Please contact us through the communication methods on the site if you have any questions, ideas for stories, things you’ve written that you would like to submit for inclusion here, and anything else you think might be pertinent.