Choosing The ‘Right’ Journal For Yourself

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I have journaled for years.

Off and on, since I was a preteen, pen and paper were my solace.

I have spent much time scribbling in school notebooks, in composition books.  I have a stockpile of ‘fancy’ lined journals, of dotted journals on sale during school season, and of hand-bound journals I have made myself.

I used to think that whatever I had on-hand would work for a journal of any sort.  And I do want to say…work with what you have, work with what you can afford.  Do not go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff because someone else tells you this will make you feel good or better or whatever.  It will not.

Having said that, I was a member of Dale Darley’s monthly journaling club.  I cannot find said club now, but here is the link to all of her other Teachable classes.  I only stopped being a member of her journaling club due to some technical issues that came up every month and I felt as if I were the only one saying something…and I started to fell REALLY bad about that…and so…I found a different journaling club, one that actually suits me better due to its focus—although I am still using what I learned through Dale.  I do highly recommend Dale Darley.  I love her work. 

One thing that Dale said in the beginning of the course was to spend the money and buy yourself a nice journal, something you love to write in, something special.  (I am paraphrasing).  She said, basically, the more you enjoy your journal, the more you love your journal, the more likely you are to use that journal regularly, daily, so on…

She – among other reasons – is what prompted me to buy an A5 Hobonichi Techo Cousin.  This is a journal I play with periodically, but other than some washi tape, I have not done a thing in…because … I just cannot do it yet.  I am thinking once my current A5 Stalogy is full (probably by the end of next month) I may bite the bullet and use the Hobonichi…this thing is like my precious at the moment…but I will use it at some point. Even if I have to cover up every single date in the book.

Buying the Hobonichi is what led me to buy…well…several other journals—because I started to try to figure out what sort of size I wanted to use…and each journal needed a cover.  I have an A6 Stalogy that I use as more of a prayer and wish journal.  I have another A6 blank hard-cover journal by Minimalism Art.  A6 – that is too small for me.  I can use it for what I am using these two for currently, but for my everyday journaling and planning, nope.  Way too small.

A B5 journal is basically the size of a composition journal.  I use composition journals for my classwork as I go through them so quickly with these classes that I am taking.

A5 is a perfect size for me. 

When buying your precious journal, no matter what you are planning to use it for, you need to consider:

Your budget, of course.  I have seen some amazing and fancy artwork bullet journals done in actual composition journals.  Don’t feel bad about that.

Consider what sort of pens and media will be used in your journal.  Do you need thicker heavier paper…will you prefer thinner finer paper?  Does any sort of ghosting through to the other side, even the most minimal bleed-through of ink, bother you?

What size will you work best in?  I’ve tried the A6 sizes, and they are too small.  I have tried the B5 size, and other than the composition journal for class, it is too big.  I have been thinking of trying a B6 for my morning-page style journaling and keeping my Stalogy for … everything else…

Do you want a leather-bound, or faux-leather-bound journal?  A fabric-bound journal?  A hard cover? A soft cover?  Will a spiral-bound journal work for you?  Or must your journal been sewn-bound…or glued? Do you need to have a pen loop included already on the journal?  Do you need a closure of some sort already on the journal?  Do you need lots of pages? 

What color journal speaks best to you?  Do you need cute characters on the covers?  Do you plan to use stickers or die cuts to decorate the outside of your journal?  Maybe you plan to use scrapbooking paper or giftwrapping paper to cover your journal, no matter what it looks like? 

Do you need a separate cover to keep your journal in?  Or multiple journals in at once? 

For me, especially right now, the idea of personal journaling, what I call my “morning page journaling” (even though I normally do it at night) is part of my night-time ritual.  The journal itself is part of that ritual.

So is the pen, but we will get to that in another post at some point. 

My journal serves as part of my ritual, and I treat it as such.  I have a journal designating for this purpose.  This one comes with its own cover, its own closure, so I do not keep it in a separate cover. 

Some days I light a candle and some incense before I begin to write.  Other days, not so much.  It is me, a cup of steaming tea, my pen and my journal…and this is time that I invest in myself as a part of my self-care routine.

Investing in my journal is investing in myself and telling myself that I am a priority.  That I am worth taking care, of and taking care of well.

This little shift in my thinking, this nugget of my journaling practice becoming a ritual of self-care and self-nurturance, has helped me relax more, helped me use this journal more, and helped choose taking care of me before I take care of others.

My journal practice is to me putting on my air mask first in case of an emergency on an airplane sort of thing.  Only on a higher plane—although with no less urgency. 

What about you?

What sort of journal, if any, do you use? 

Do you have a stash of journals sitting unused and just…waiting?  Are they as old as some of mine now?  Ten, twenty years old…

How do you approach your journaling practice?  Is it just something you do to brain dump?  Is it a guided practice?  Is it a reflective practice?  Or do you simply note things that happened throughout the day? 

How do you feel about the idea of choosing a journal as a reflection of choosing yourself?

Let me know in the comments below.