My Tools: Notebook + Pen

Jimmy does technologyPart of my daily routine is to “free journal”. After my morning walk I sit down for a time of quiet with an A4 Ruled notebook and a pen and I write.

I call it free journaling because I write whatever comes into my head. There are many different types of journaling, I’ve tried a few, but keep coming back to simply streaming out my thoughts.

It’s surprising how often my thoughts come streaming out, thoughts on work, thoughts on the family, personal thoughts, thoughts on faith and grace.

One of the things that writing does is to get things out of my head. I can let things swirl around and around, once they are written down they stand still. It’s much easier to look at something that is standing still.

That’s about all I’m going to say about the reason why I journal, there are many people who have written far better explanations on the benefits than I could. This post is about the tools that I use to journal.

I’ve tried technology solutions for journaling but they all fail, not because of the technology, because of me.

With a notebook and pen there is nothing else, I sit on a sofa away from a keyboard so there are no distractions. When I write, I’m not worrying whether it’s legible, spelled correctly or whether it is good grammar, I’m just writing. When I use a keyboard my brain won’t allow me to be free, it wants me to be correct. While I’m trying to be correct I can’t stream, it’s disruptive.

I’ve tried to use a PC Tablet as a pseudo notebook, but still there is a deep felt need to be correct.

Some days I will only write a few lines, other days I will write a full page of thoughts. This used to trouble me, I measured the value of the journal by it’s length. One of the ways I would overcome this fear was to write in an A5 sides notebook so I have a few of them too. I’m more laid back about it now so the A4 notebook does just fine.

There’s more to it than that though.

A notebook and pen are tactile things. When I’m sitting in that place with those object my brain knows what is coming, I’ve build a routine and the routine helps. When I first started it took me ages to get into a stream, if I follow the routine the stream now comes quite easily.

When I have finished one notebook it goes on a bookshelf next to my other notebooks, there is something very satisfying about seeing the number of books increase. Seeing files feel a computer disk doesn’t feel the same.

If you are interested in journaling D*I*Y Planner has a good introduction.

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