My assorted feeds and social media platforms are giving me the annual binge of life changing advice. It’s ongoing through the year of course, but around end December, start of January, it tends to be on a scale equivalent to the Pacific Ocean. This year, journalling is in. In particular, a remarkable number of advice sites for men trying to make their way in this world are advising journaling as a, let me see, cornerstone habit.
I started journaling in about March 1993. I used an ordinary notebook which was a little bit bigger than A6. I’m not a fan of using dated diaries for this: they are a bit arbitrary and dictatorial. If you use an ordinary notebook, you can write as much, or as little, as you like. I’ve used A5 notebooks almost constantly since 1994 and my preferred choice, although not possible to get in Ireland, are Clairefontaine clothbound notebooks, preferably gridded, and the biggest number of pages I can find. Most stationery stores in France or Belgium help in this front, although in Belgium, they used come with margins. I’d like, sometimes, to move up to A4 but they don’t fit in my handbag. A5 is a 20 year habit now. Other notebook manufacturers exist and I have happily used Paperblanks A5 which are beautiful notebooks, although I don’t like the paper as much as I like the Clairefontaine paper.
So I approve of writing a journal, or a diary, as we used to call it in my time.
The thing is, courtesy of the internet, journaling is a whole industry, resulting in loads of stuff showing up in my social media and news feeds. I had not realised that bible journaling was a thing, and the whole art side of things regrettably passed me by for most of my life. There are journaling prompts to beat the band all over pinterest. I have not worked out how much of this is born of the fact that people can be overwhelmed with stuff and information. One which turns up regularly is bullet journaling which I don’t personally consider as journaling per se, but as organisation/management. Planning, per se. There are many systems.
I started writing a diary at the age of 19 because I had fallen in love with someone from whom I wound up moving for practical work related reasons at the time and I wanted to coral memories of days that made me feel happy. I’m not sure I would have succeeded in it if I’d done it for the purposes of getting richer.