Dear diary – keeping going, and cutting and sticking

So, you’ve cottoned on to the concept of writing in a journal to help empty your head, but perhaps you’re struggling to maintain the momentum?

scrapbooking materialsWriting a journal takes time, and who has any of that to spare? And isn’t it a bit dull to write about having chips for dinner again?

Well, hopefully, writing in your journal is becoming a habit, helping you to offload daily dross as well as the big issues which would otherwise keep you awake at night. And a rant about what you had for dinner – and what else happened around the kitchen table – might be something you want to make note of.

Try making journaling into something to look forward to. Just ten minutes at the end of the day to share your innermost thoughts with the page. Surely you can spare 10 minutes at bedtime?

The journal is for you

I recommend finding yourself a really fancy notebook and a pen that’s comfortable to write with, so you can enjoy the physical process, although of course, any old writing pad and biro will do. Your best handwriting will be nice to look back on, but then, an angry or miserable scrawl is going to hit the mark, too. The point is, the journal is for you, for your eyes only (as I’ve said before, make a point of keeping it absolutely private).

I also create what I’ve only recently discovered is called a ‘smash book’ (God bless the Internet!). In my day it was more of a scrapbook affair, but there’s a modern twist to that nowadays, of course. I keep this alongside my usual journal because I find it such a relaxing activity, and an outlet for creativity. And the way adult colouring and sticker books have taken off recently, it would seem I’m not alone, but I digress…

Your own smash book

Scrapbook by Louise ColeI’ll buy a children’s science notebook for a few cents (pence if you’re not in the Eurozone as I am), which has lined pages on one side and plain paper the other. I’ll take out scissors, a glue stick and a heap of old magazines and colourful supermarket and holiday brochures, and start cutting and sticking pictures and shapes on to the cover.

Inside, I’ll write bits about the day’s happenings in bite-sized chunks, sometimes in patterns or written at right angles and in different coloured pens, then I’ll stick in more pictures to make it all look pretty. I’ll include photos, receipts, tickets and other souvenirs (dried flowers, gift-wrap motifs, wallpaper samples, confetti, feathers and sweet wrappers have all found their way into my journals), to make it interesting.

I might keep this going for a month, or until it is full – and it will often coincide with a holiday, birthday or family occasion. If I think I’m going to want to share what’s in this journal, I’ll make sure it doesn’t contain anything I want to keep to myself, meaning my long hand journal continues to get all the angst, as usual. Keeping the two journals going in tandem is also quite satisfying later, when I can look back and remember the public and the private versions of what was going on in my life.

This cutting and sticking aspect of journaling might seem a bit childish, but I recommend it as a relaxing way of unravelling your day. Give it a try – it must be one of the least expensive and more readily available forms of therapy.

Louise G Cole

About Louise G Cole

Originally from Worcestershire, I moved to rural Ireland in 2003 with my husband, two children, and a herd of alpacas. We were looking for the good life when that Celtic Tiger gave us quite a mauling (and sent the alpacas packing), but we’re still here. After many years in journalism and PR, I now concentrate on creative writing, having had some modest successes writing poetry and short stories. And in order to call myself a writer, I am of course, working on a novel. I work in community development and run creative writing classes for beginners, including courses on how to keep a journal. I blog about ‘reading, writing and other stuff’ at my website, where you can discover why I insist on including the ‘G’ in my moniker.