People often tell me that they don’t quite understand how to use a journal like this. The truth is that there are no rules to using any journal – do whatever feels right to you – providing it is your journal! I don’t want you to feel you have to start at page one and only move onto page two when that page is full. My journals are there to help you relax into writing, not to stress you out. If you are at all intimidated about “spoiling” a page, take out a journaling prompt and use that as a nudge to write on a piece of scrap paper you can tape in later. If you want to, that is.
A journaling prompt is intended to set you thinking. It isn’t an exam question, so you don’t have to come up with arguments for or against the topic. Think of it as is if you were having a conversation with me and I just mentioned a gorgeous sunset to you. This prompt is there simply to evoke a thought or memory to get you to start thinking. Not sure what to do? Jot down some bullet point ideas of what it brings up to you, or a time it reminds you about. Where did you see a beautiful sunset? Who were you with? Don’t have any particular opinions or thoughts on sunsets, then move onto another prompt, or try something else!
If you don’t feel like responding to a written cue, there are lots of journaling cards and tags tucked into the pockets and under flaps throughout each journal. Pick one that appeals to you, flip it over, and respond to it in whatever way works for you. With such a small space on the back, it’ll be quickly done!
If you fins you have a lot to say, look through the journal for a lined page. There are often both wider and narrower ruled pages in each journal, so find one you like and start writing. Again, it isn’t an essay, no one is going to grade you on it, and possibly no one but you will ever see it, so let go and let those thoughts out. It may feel odd at first, but you’ll soon find it is very cathartic to rant and rave in the privacy of your own journal.
As another option, while it might feel odd to write on a page with existing pictures or text, they are there so you aren’t overwhelmed by seeing a completely empty page. Pick up a pen that is dark or light enough to write over what is on the page, then start to write around it, over it, under it, what ever appeals to you. Your words can relate to the image or not, there is no right or wrong way to use a journal like this. You are of course free to doodle if you don’t feel like writing anything.
Adding your own ephemera is another way to make a journal more uniquely yours. For a travel journal, for example, pick up travel-related receipts, bags and packaging and tuck them into your journal. Add a few words to capture special memories so you can come back to them and enjoy that moment again and again.
For a non-themed journal where you simply want to record memories and thoughts, make it personal. Look around to see what you have nearby that you might want to stick in, such as a birthday card, note, photo, or a business card you want to find again. Use Washi tape, clips, or staples to fi the item in your journal. Feeling creative? Add stamps or use paper cutters to accent the pages to your taste.
The truth is only way to use a journal is to open it and interact with it. Settle into using it as you would into a room in a new home. Find a pen you enjoy writing with, gather stationary supplies to make the journal more your own, and then commit to adding a thought a week – or more often if you feel like it! I hope you have a wonderful time using your journal, and in the way that suits you best.