How I Use My Journals

by Tammy Strobel on July 1, 2014

For the last few years, I used a Moleskine Journal to capture my thoughts. I wrote to-do lists, blog posts, gratitude lists, and more in my sole journal. If I needed to revisit an entry, I would dog-ear a page or use a sticky note to mark a section. Prior to using Moleskines exlusively, I carried around multiple journals and each one had it’s own theme. That didn’t work for me because I kept misplacing notebooks. Carrying my Moleskine was preferable because it fit in my purse.

After shredding my old journals, last month, I wanted to try something new. Rather than keeping all my thoughts in one notebook, I decided to try a Midori Traveler’s Notebook (Passport Size). For me, the Midori is more than a notebook. I see it as an organizational system for multiple journals. The system centers around one leather cover and multiple bands that hold several notebooks in place. It’s a slick system! Now my art journal, gratitude journal, and my journal for daily thoughts and lists are all in one spot. Plus, they are cleanly organized.

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In addition to my Midori, I have a gardening journal and the Desire Map Daily Planner. Both of these notebooks hang out on a bookshelf because I don’t use them everyday. They serve their purpose for planning and gardening notes. However, I’m thinking about using my Midori for both of those themes.

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If you want to begin a journaling practice, give the following tips a try …

1. Find a journal you love. Over the years, I’ve tried out dozens of journals; journals that were insanely expensive and others that were found at the Dollar Tree. If I like the feel of the paper — and if the journal fits in my pursue — I will write in it and love it!

2. Look for inspiration and encouragement online, in books, or in magazines. A few of my favorite sources of inspiration are listed below:

  • Seaweed Kisses — a sweet blog by Michelle Marie — is full of beautiful images and helpful posts.
  • Journal Your Life” is a lovely e-course taught by Susannah Conway. I also adore Susannah’s blog and Instagram feed. Like Michelle’s site, it’s filled with awesome tips and tools.

3. Journaling is a personal and private activity, so don’t worry about grammar or being neat. Write, draw, or make lists of the people, places, and events that inspire you.

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I’d love to hear from you! Do you journal? Share your story and thoughts in the comments section.

Be well,
Tammy

1 laurie July 1, 2014

I do journal! I also kept several for different purposes but now just use one, its so handy to go back find things you need to remember, I had a brain injury that has stolen parts of memory process, this helps! Your journals are beautiful, mine are just plain, lol, but make me happy with whats inside, I do my watercolor painting in them!

2 Tammy Strobel July 1, 2014

Laurie,

I’m sorry to hear about your injury. They way you use your journals is inspiring! Thanks for your kind words, too.

Hugs,
Tammy

3 jim July 1, 2014

Hey, what case have you wedged your phone into? I like it!

4 Tammy Strobel July 1, 2014

Hi Jim,

Thanks! I purchased the case on Etsy last year. I can’t remember who made it, though!

Thanks for reading,
Tammy

5 Sabrina July 1, 2014

I started journaling again last winter and attended Susannah’s course to bring me back into the routine of writing. Now I journal almost every day.
Like you I have found a system that works for me, and it’s quite similar to the Midori journal. I use X17 (http://www.x17.de/en/home/), and it uses thin notebooks which are kept together in a cover. I have several sizes, but 2-3 inserts in a A5 cover work best for me (I use a calendar, a lined notebook and a blank notebook, when I travel I just take the calendar and the lined notebook). I have a smaller one with one insert, too, and that is perfect for carrying around all the time and to write down shopping lists, addresses etc.
I love that I can select a beautiful cover and can use it as long as I want, and not just until it is filled. Plus I don’t have the feeling of “ruining” a brand new lovely notebook by writing in it, as I just use the (relatively cheap) notebook inside which I can always change!

6 Lauren / Small Town Simple July 1, 2014

I use one journal mainly for personal thoughts and remembering the cute (and sometimes not so cute) things my little boy does. I try to write several times a week but sometimes I only have time for once a week. I would love to see more pictures of your new journal and your creative pages!

7 Chrissy July 1, 2014

I love the idea of keeping a journal and love leather bound journals but can never seem to keep at it. I do plan to try to be more active once we get into Tiny and start living our tiny life. I want to document so much of it and our travels. Thanks for the write up. My favorite journals are made by a friend that sells them at the Renaissance Fest. Him and his partner make them and the paper by hand. He is pretty talented and I like supporting my artist friends when I can. :)

8 Kelly July 1, 2014

I love this post!!! I took Susannah’s Journal Your Life course that started in April and I absolutely adored it. I haven’t stopped journaling since. Now I journal every morning before I get up. If I have a day where I don’t do it (like today eek) I often feel out of step, and I always try and make it up in the evening. I have become reasonably superstitious about it! But I have seen myself make so much progress since I started journaling everyday. It seems too simple to have such a huge impact on my life, but it has. http://bit.ly/1lwDRkg
I love love love it!!! :)

9 Tracie July 1, 2014

I use The Sacred Journey: Daily Journal for Your Soul and have for several years. I’m getting more out of it this year with the help of the Documented Life Project (DLP) by Art to the 5th ladies. (They’re using Moleskine planners.) I prefer my journal, partly because it’s spiral bound and not sewn. We add creative pages to our planners (tip ins/flaps) that the ladies come up with every week. (challenges) I use it as a planner, art journal, and partly a smash/scrapbook. I also have a personal journal/diary that I keep that doesn’t have art or anything else but writing in it.

10 Aime Lopez July 1, 2014

Tammy,

I loved this Post!, you have a very beautiful Journal now!!, I keep several Journals since High School, but I still don’t have the strong heart to shred them :( How did you find the strength to do that? I admire you for that a lot!!! Did you take pictures of them at least?, I have lots of Moleskine notebooks, the small ones for my purse, were I track some expenses, and some groceries list, and sometimes some Cooking recipes, I also have a big Italian Leader Journal from B&N, I love it, but I haven’t been able to finish it yet, only use it when I’m at my desk though, also I use other smaller journals for my everyday writings… Since I got my Iphone 5c, the blue one :) I downloaded the Moleskine App, and love it!, have you try it?, I started writing to the Baby I haven’t been able to have (I want a Boy).. We keep trying for several years my husband and I, (cross the fingers), I hope he come to our lives soon, but as I feel sometimes very depress about it, I write him letters on the Moleskine App and the Leather Journal (am I crazy?), but writing these letters help me to keep going and leave the sadness on the letters and keep the hope alive that one day I will hold him in my arms.…Journals are your 2nd. Best Friends! Dogs go first of course! ;)

Love from Mexico!

Aimé

11 Tammy Strobel July 1, 2014

Aime,

Thanks for leaving a comment. You can read about why I shredded my old journals here. The process was cathartic for me.

I don’t think you are crazy. Writing letters to your future child is beautiful. Also, I think it’s awesome that it’s help you deal with depression. Journaling is so powerful!

xo,
Tammy

12 SusanElizabeth July 1, 2014

I’ve been journaling as I could write but as a kid it was the classic diary-style. Now I make lists, to-do lists, pros & cons, gratitude lists, as well as the day-to-day “here’s what I did” stuff, I keep track of the birds I see(like a life list I guess), and sometimes write specifically about movies or songs I’m liking at that moment, or to get anything off my chest. It’s a big relief, it helps me organize my thoughts. Sometimes I write out what I’m thinking and worrying over and by the end I’ve got a couple of possible solutions I wouldn’t have come to if I hadn’t sat and wrote. I write both fiction and non in my journals and even poetry. For me, journaling is essential.
I agree with you that the more I like the way paper feels or even the cover design the more I will use the journal. At the same time I’ve purchased cheap high school and college ruled notebooks from the drugstore and used those just as much, especially when I couldn’t afford more expensive journals. There are tons of appealing looking journals on Etsy & bonus if they’re upcycled. I’m currently using a fabric covered bird themed journal that I kept in the shrink wrap for years. I don’t know what I was saving it for.
There have been times I stopped journaling, for months at a time, because I was busy or some other excuse but I always find I’m more grounded and clear when I’ve gone back to it. I’ve had three unfortunate incidents where my private journals were read, twice by friends and once by a relative and it really upset me. I was unable to journal for sometime, feeling like every word I wrote was definitely going to be read and judged later on. I’m not over that but I still write and try to be honest in it.

I love this post! I could read and talk about this subject for too long. Very inspirational and its making me be a bit cheesy!
I also recommend pinterest (and tumblr) for finding some inspiration with journals…there’s lots of DIY journal, travel journals, journal art ect on those sites.

13 Tammy Strobel July 1, 2014

Susan,

Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sorry you had friends and family read your private journals. That’s not cool! I would be upset, too. I hope you continue to journal. It sounds like something you enjoy. :)

Thanks for the recommendations too! tumblr is a lovely resource.

Hugs,
Tammy

14 SusanElizabeth July 1, 2014

Thank you Tammy! The invasion of privacy is not cool and it was years ago and still bugs me. I’m just realizing how long my original comment was-eek sorry. Thanks for the reply, keep the inspiration coming. -Susan

15 Sandra Pawula July 1, 2014

I journal as well and use ecosystem journals. I have one personal journal, one business journal, and my daily to-do list journal. It’s not as simple as a system, but it works well for me.

16 Allie July 1, 2014

Mmmm, JOURNALS! I love the things. I used to have so many floating around that never really got used but recently, I started using only one as a catch all. I love Moleskine and have a bunch right now that need to be filled before buying more but I dig the medium size ones with grids. I have some of the little cahiers that are great for the work I’m doing right now (chaplain in a hospital) but I prefer the sturdier ones for my other notes and life ramblings. I really like the Midori traveler’s notebook but I’m trying not to purchase leather so wah wah. It’s such a smart idea though!! I find blank journals to be full of promise and excitement…I think they’re one of my favorite things ever.

17 Gina, a book dragon July 2, 2014

At one time I was a great writer but stopped soon after I became a mother. You know, just as I should have scaled back how much I wrote, not stopped completely. sigh I went back later to read them and a huge part of my life (getting my first horse) was documented with two sentences. grrrr

Then I spent years with a DIY planner but gave up because it still wasn’t what I was looking for.

I’m currently using a bullet journal system and am loving it. There are still some issues to work on and if it doesn’t work out, I may switch again to the Midori. My life, separate but all in one place.

18 Kayla Dawn Thomas July 2, 2014

I love journals, but have fallen away from the practice of journaling. I used to draft scenes for my novels, take notes, and do regular old mind dump sessions in my journal. But carrying it around was cumbersome, and like you, I used sticky notes to mark things. That got messy. Now I use Evernote for quick thoughts, outlining scenes and characters, etc. I love that I can work things out on my white board (AKA murder board) and take pictures that I then stick in Evernote and can pull up if I’m working outside my office. Sometimes I miss pen and paper, but it wasn’t mobile enough, and then I didn’t know where to store volumes after I was finished. I am pretty intrigued by that traveler’s journal you’re using now though.

19 Michelle July 2, 2014

Tammy, love this post!! I’m also so happy to see that you’re enjoying your Midori Notebook and getting into journaling. I read “Writing Down Your Soul” a while back and found that book really encouraging for documenting those deep thoughts that lurk in the back of the mind. I discovered more about myself as I kept track of my daily thoughts, ideas, and wonders. It really is amazing just how 15 minutes a day of writing (or doodling, sketching,etc) can do for you (or at least for me.)

20 John Towery July 2, 2014

Hi. I am on this journey to ‘simplify’ my life and also is taking on personal goals which is to improve my writing skills (big challenge for me).
And I decided on journaling as a way to improve writing but not sure which way: digital (online) or old fashioned (pen and paper). My problem is i tend to be scatter brained with organization or routine so I more than likely misplace my journal book. But I always have iPhone on hand or iPad so I use Evernote and blogger.com. But then again sometime my ‘ADHD’ (self diagnosed) complicate things.

Yet, still not quite sure to go digital or go paper/pen. Need feedback…

(im not sure if this comment is off the topic …see im scatter brained.

21 Kayla Dawn Thomas July 2, 2014

John, sounds like we’re in similar boats. I almost always have my iphone or laptop with me, so that’s why I’ve gravitated to Evernote. There are still times when my old fashioned journal comes in handy, but for the most part I’m digital. I’m trying not to overthink it, which is super easy for me to do!

22 Tammy Strobel July 3, 2014

Hey John,

I’d suggest experimenting with both methods. I use my journal and I also capture ideas with the Evernote app. Eventually, the content that I share via blog posts and books makes it’s way to Evernote. It’s a great tool! I’ll have to do a follow up post on this topic. :)

Best,
Tammy

23 Melissa July 2, 2014

I come from a long line of journalers. I have my grandmother’s started in WWII ( lots about the weather and who missed church). I have my mother’s ( health & the price of everything she ever bought) and I have been keeping a journal for most of the last 50 years. I tend to go in heavily for blessings and angst. Often in the same entry. What a treasure to have 70+ years of thoughts.

24 DJ from Texas July 3, 2014

Thanks so much, Tammy. I was curious about the Midori travel planner PP size since I clicked on the link on your notebooks post. I’ve been keeping journals on various topics for many years and this seems like a great option to have one “holder” to carry with me. Also, thanks so much for taking the photo next to your iPhone 5s as it helps me get a better frame of reference on size. Awesomely helpful!

25 Chloe July 3, 2014

Hey Tammy,

Do you happen to know if there are bricks-and-mortar retailers of Midori in the States? I can’t seem to find any and I’d love to be able to handle the journals before I purchased one. Thanks!!

26 Tammy Strobel July 3, 2014

Hi Chloe,

I’m not sure. Sorry!

Best,
Tammy

27 Judy Myers July 3, 2014

For a brick and mortar store, check out Baum kuchen (baum-kuchen.net). It’s owned by a couple – Wakako (Japanese) and Frido (German). They have a wonderful online shop and beautiful blog, and they have a studio/store in Los Angeles. They appear to carry just about every Midori Travelers Notebook item you can imagine. The proprietors even went and toured the Midori factory in Japan which she writes about on the blog. I think anyone interested in the Midori or even taking a look at an interesting blog and shop would enjoy checking out this website.

28 Diana July 4, 2014

Thanks for sharing your journaling adventures, Tammy.

I’ve been journaling for as long as I can remember. I used to write on a pocket calendar. I found one from 1980 not too long ago. I was fresh out of high school then, and memories came flooding back as I read through the months.

I also write in sprial notebooks. I was a school teacher for 20 years (just retired this May), and these notebooks held lesson plans and my thoughts about everything that went on during the day. Currently I’m using the old fashioned composition notebooks.

I keep one notebook at a time. I have a set of affirmation that I begin with every morning, I’ve recently started my own photography business, and I use the notebook to write my daily agenda, thoughts about my business, and notes about assignments. When the pages run out, I start a new notebook.

I save every notebook. I keep them numbered so if I want to look back at what I’ve written I have them in order. I might take the time to retype them on the computer, but I’m not sure about that yet. There’s something about holding a pen in my hand that just makes me feel happy.

Great post!

29 Sara Stasi July 5, 2014

Hi Tammy! This system seems very helpful and organized. I have journalled my whole life and, like you, have used everything from a fancy moleskins to a $1 composition book. When, where, and why I journal has changed as well. Right now I have one journal for my daily gratitude practice and reflections on the day, one for creative writing and drafting my blog entries, and one for recording any dreams that I remember upon walking each morning. I also have a more artsy collage journal but I only use that 1-2 times a year. I’d love to take Susannah’s course and use some creative multimedia options more frequently!

30 Glenda July 11, 2014

I’m grateful for your recommendation of the book Writing as a Way of Healing. I’ve read Pennebaker’s Opening Up book that she references, but de Salvo’s Writing as a Way of Healing is showing me exactly how to use this kind of writing – be very detail oriented, link events to feelings, and not just scribble random stream-of-consciousness thoughts. I’m dealing with upsetting family-of-origin episodes, working through them and dealing with my emotions as I do so; Writing as a Way of Healing is already changing – and clarifying – my upside down feelings and it is liberating and relieving! Thank you so much.

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