Telling Your Own Story: Journal Previews

Journaling is an excellent way to keep track of events, tasks, general goals, the world around you, and anything else you can think of. However, with all of the different purposes it is difficult to order them in one place. The notebooks, styles, and even paper affect your progress. I currently have six journals, all of them in use. Hopefully, this preview of what works for me will help you to figure that out for yourself.

1) Memorization Journal
Form: ringed 3×5 index card deck
Purpose: To internalize material and track progress over a long period of time
Use: Filled quickly, Referenced five times daily

Memorization takes time and review which means that I need to be able to carry this journal everywhere I go. I need to be able to fit in a diaper bag or purse, fit it in one hand, and hold a lot of content. It is lined on one side and blank on the other. I write out single verses or stanzas of what I am learning on the front and my tracking on the back.

2)Settlers/ Nature journal
Form: Size, hard covered lined journal; repurposed
Purpose: Track seasonal changes and garden trends, Monitor stock, Develop reference guide for plants, trees, etc in my area
Use: Moderate Use, Referenced regularly.

There are two things that I need to track for this journal. First, things that influence what I intend to create and it’s progress, like frost dates, tomato planting times, and whether the kale sprouted. The second is my observation of what is created. I keep these two journals in one, so that I can reference and correlate the two.

Form: This is in a journal that I was given as a child. It has gone through many transitions. There have been  pages ripped out. It is a little smaller than eight and half by eleven and lined. My settler’s journal is at the front and my nature journal works from the back. I do this with a lot of my journals that have dual purposes. Typically, one side tracks day to day progress and the other becomes a personal reference guide.

In this case my settler’s journal monitors day-to-day occurrences like prevailing weather or if my freezer is stocked. The original intent was to tell the story of our life in Idaho, but it slowly graduated into something specific and useful.

This is not where I put long-term memories.

The nature journal is for trees, animals, and plants that I discover here. My goal is to eventually create a constellation and trail guide as well, but I’m not quite sure how to put that in my nature journal or whether that would fit my settler’s better.

It keeps me observing the world around me and my impact on it. I want to know what plants are in my backyard and what their uses are. This also sets an example for my son to observe nature and study as an adult. Currently, he likes to pick things up and bring them to me. With this journal, I have a special place for them. He learns that his curiosity is valuable and that we can learn together.

The first journal he will receive is a nature journal to start encouraging his observation and language skills.

3) Daily Bullet Journal
Form: Cheap Graph Paper Journal
Purpose: Home Management (Budgeting and Menu Planning)
Use: Fast, filled quickly and little reuse.

I’m not gonna go into bullet journaling deeply here, but this is a task oriented home management journal.

This is in a seventy five cent graph paper composition notebook from Walmart. I fill it up, extract relevant details, and move onto the next one. It is divided into two portions from the front and back like the previous one. Currently, I am using the front for long-term projects like developing a menu plan and tracking spending. The back is my daily schedule matched with what actually occurs and my to do list. I’m probably going to switch those next time.
This one fills up fast, so it is cheap, light, and goes with me everywhere. I would be lost without it. It helps me make adjustments to our home systems and then track the changes over the course of several months.

4) The RWB
Form: Novelty Journal, lined and small
Purpose: Maintain everything reading, writing, and blogging related
Use: Too much, too fast.

Also known as my Reading, Writing, and Blogging journal, it covers everything in the genres. This is the system I am least satisfied with at the present, but I have too much going on and depend on it too completely to restructure at this point.

This is a nicer journal because writing projects take a long time. However, I don’t think it needs to be. It just needs to have lines. I will be breaking each of these into it individual journal as soon as I fill this one up ( at my current rate, will be the end of the month)

I have a reading journal at the back, tracking individual books, my thoughts on them, quotes, and such. From the front I have everything else. This is where it gets overwhelming. Going forward I will have a reading journal with a Commonplace book (I’ll explain that next), a blogging journal with references to previous posts in the back like a concordance, and a writing journal with an editing section in the back. My current method has me turning back-and-forth between too many different pages too much.

As with such things I would be lost without it.

5) My Commonplace Book
Form: Center section of RWB
Purpose: Studying wordsmithing, thought communication, and wiser people than I saying things better than I could.
Use: Moderate, Reference guide

This is a collection of quotes from books, people, and anywhere people talk. Like each of these journal previews, it will receive a post of its own in due course, but this is steeped in historical and literary tradition. I might write down a quote because I like it or because it invites thought or because of rhetorical device was particularly well used. Being a writer means being a student of the way people speak. This is my nature journal for words. Finessing my words is the area I struggle the most, so active study of rhetoric and natural speech is essential.

Currently, this is comprises the center chunk of my RWB, another reason my RWB is filled to bursting. I keep a bookmark on it for quick reference, but it needs it’s own space. The form does not fit the function. ideally it would be in its own more long-term spot and for my next go around it will be designated half of a journal in conjunction with my reading journal.

6) Memories and Deeper things
Form: Hardbound Journal with Leather Case
Purpose: To Reflect and Remember
Use: Slowly filled, Kept for long term.

This is where I write the important things. I have something like 15 pages on my son’s birth, 100 or more on my first year of marriage, and dozens of prayers and thoughts. This is the very slow current of my journals because only the most important things go there. I try to take time at least once a month to recollect, and rest in what God has provided for us.

This journal has a gorgeous leather bound cover with the typewriter on it. My husband bought it for me in the month after our wedding when I was still working on my first novel, the one before the novel that I actually got finished. He has fed my dreams of writing and encouraged me from day one. This one is slowly and intentionally filled. I started it May 2014 and I’ll finish this volume in the next six months, probably. (2017)

Journals track the stories in our lives and others. They are collections of events, thoughts, the world around us, and the busy hum of our day. We’ll be talking more about them as I go through the history of different kinds of journaling and the practical sides of it.

What sort do you use and why?

Happy Writing!