Tag Archives: journals

journals, diaries, and poetry, oh my!

I’ve always been a little obsessed with handwriting journal/diary hybrids, books where I’d talk about my day and daily dramas and then suddenly launch into discussion of some bigger, deeper theme out of nowhere. I started when I was around 11 or 12 and continued (albeit very intermittently) into my twenties.

I’m a very all or nothing type of person- I’m either doing something 110% or I’m not doing it at all. (so if I ever miss posting on this blog, expect not to hear from me for another year. JUST KIDDING…I think). Journals were no exception to this rule. I wanted my entries to be daily, though of course they never were. All my old journals are full of maybe 3-7 day periods where I’d write daily and then a silence that could last days, weeks, or even months before resuming again. Sometimes I’d even try to summarize everything that happened for these silent gaps in the next entry, usually precluded by a “It’s been FOREVER!!” (It’s at the very least, amusing stuff, especially the teen journals. Ah, the teen journals.)


                 proof of the damage!

As I went through college and beyond, the gaps between my journaling increased. I have years that are not recorded at all, where others I’ll experience a burst of activity and then drop off the face of the earth again. I also fell in and out of love with journaling. Sometimes I was really enthused about it, while others I felt it only served to make me realize how uninteresting my life was. I also noticed that as I got older and life obviously became more complex as a result, I became less honest in my journals, which was upsetting to me. Journals were supposed to be a place I could come and be completely honest with myself, not to skip around anything I didn’t want to face head on in order to make better, more nostalgic reading for myself when I came back to them later.

Last year, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to write some in a journal every day, a sort of final challenge to see if I could do it. For a while (nearly 3 months) it went well, and I managed to get something down every day, even enjoyed it the majority of the time. But one thing I’d failed to account for was that it did take time. I liked to handwrite all my journals and my insistence on doing it every day was taking away from the success of another one of my goals: to write poetry on a regular basis. I write poetry in the same way I write journals, by hand, and a lot of the time when I was done with my journaling, especially if the entry had been emotional or particularly deep or searching, I found my well all dried up when it came to poetry. Not only that, but some of the entries in my journals became downright poetic when I really got going on something I couldn’t really articulate.

It wasn’t the first time I’d noticed this strange melding. In fact, back in 2012 I wrote an entry in which I wondered if poetry and keeping a ‘diary’ weren’t so different as I’d first assumed in terms of purpose. Being that I valued poetry more, I started to wonder if maybe I should make poetry my diary of sorts, and write daily in some poetry book rather than a journal.

From September 10th, 2012:

Poetry is like pouring out feelings you can’t even put into words, and that’s what I like having a diary to be about too, but I don’t know…if someone were to read a diary, they might be hurt or troubled by what they find- but with poetry…poetry is always under the guise of art. The words are not straightforward, so even if you write something in the heat of hateful feelings, it might be construed differently by the very person it’s about. It might be enjoyed by them, and then, assuming the poem is for poetry’s sake as well, long after your angry feelings pass, you can still love the poem, unlike how you’d be ashamed of an angry journal entry. Because poetry is beautiful, and transcends something base inside, so that sometimes in the act of writing it we come to reconcile our emotions and achieve insight into the deepest reaches of ourselves. Poetry can be therapeutic indeed.

Of course every poem I write is not so personal as a diary entry, and every diary entry I wrote was certainly not poetic (HA) but I had a point. The similarities were there, and if I had to pick one to spend time on, I wanted it to be poetry. (I’d also like to note I think it’s funny how concerned I was over people reading my journals…as far as I can tell, there wasn’t anything catastrophic in there…though I suppose I understand my point xD)

When I journaled, I felt like a lot of what I wrote as boring, and I always felt like I missed writing about the real ‘good stuff’. With poetry, the only things you take from life are the ones that strike you in some way, the moments that seem to glow with a special sort of luminescence. So while my poetry will never tell me what I ate yesterday morning or what test I passed or what inside joke I created, it will take me back to the memories that matter most upon reading, memories  only I can fully unlock. And as a bonus, it will hopefully be something completely new and different to each reader who sees it, as any good piece of art is.

Do I still journal? Occasionally, but only when the spirit moves me. Poetry has by and large taken the front seat in my handwritten life ;).

I hope you’re all well and I’ll see you next week!


Leave a comment

Filed under musings, writing

Journals, journals, journals

It’s fair to say I’m a little obsessed. Over the years I’ve collected a number, most of which are still unused, and yet they continue to pile up. Here are a few of them:

I say ‘a few’ because it’s actually not all (not featured are the ten or so journals I filled up in my high school and college years.

Now, journaling itself is not such a big thing for me anymore (last year I made a resolution to pick it up again and made it- impressively, I think- almost through March writing every day before I stopped).  Nowadays I use my journals for poetry (the two bottom left and the far bottom right are filled with rough scribblings), and occasionally to record ideas (the top left and top right have some questionable brain matter recorded inside). The one with the typewriter on it is used for letterboxing, and the middle far right with the fairy was a journal I kept for a week in Ireland.  That leaves eight blank journals , some of which (I’m looking at you, leather tree journal second from right on the bottom) I’ve actually just resigned myself to looking at in admiration and fear of besmirching the pristine pages. I do all my brainstorming, run-on thought process stuff in plain spiral bound notebooks because in my mind it’s not worthy of wasting pages in these beauties. In fact, I’ve never figured out just what is ‘worthy’, which is why I still have so many  unused journals. Oops?

Like any enthusiast, I have favorites. My personal favorite breed of journal is the sort-of-pricy but more-than-sort-of worth it Paperblanks variety. The journals below are all Paperblanks and they. Are. Amazing. Sometimes I visit the website (http://www.paperblanks.com/us/en/) just to stroke the screen and murmur sweet nothings. Most of these journals feel like that untouchable, popular kid that always seems to feature in teen dramas, so you have to make the valiant effort to get over their obscene beauty in order to write in them.


What are your favorite journals? Do you have a burgeoning collection that you’ve yet to use or are you the type to seize life by the horns and actually write in nice books you paid good money to write in? LET ME KNOW.


p.s.  ironically, my love of beautiful journals is rivaled only by my love of cheap pens. When will I ever go through 100+ basic papermate/bic/random hotel pens? WHO KNOWS, at least it’s not draining my finances any. The future is thrilling.


Filed under random