Yesterday on Facebook Sanity Journals asked,
"What do you do with old journals? Do you have a method of organization? Do you keep separate journals for different areas of your life?"
I have kept journals on and off for many years. Journaling I scribbled in spiral notebooks as a teenager are long gone in lieu of trading the activity for the writing of poems.
A-round-a-bout 1993 I began to journal again on plain ol' binder paper. I have kept a few of those scraps in a manila envelope. Early in 1994 I began to journal on a computer using Nathaniel Branden's book The Art of Self-Discovery: A Powerful Technique for Building Self-Esteem. It was a powerful and heart wrenching experience.
What's that saying? The truth hurts.
In December 1994 I purchased my first hard cover journal. The first entry was written on the same day I re-entered the realm of counseling.
Do you ever go back and read your old journals?
Journaling is a process that I most definitely recommend. A friend once told me that she had tried writing, but it just made her feel worse. Sometimes it does. You have to keep going.
I've had many starts and stops in my journaling adventure. Sometimes I want to burn my old journals because the entries seem so damn pathetic, depressing and pitiful. There are hundreds of blank pages; dead-fast stops in my journey. Perhaps those were moments I wrapped myself up in denial and anger so deep I couldn't wade through the screaming and flung the pen across the room. Perhaps those were moments in which I simply could not face myself. Denial can be such a beautiful thing. Perhaps those were moments when I doubted the process as my friend had. When I did return to the page, I'd start a completely new journal with a new commitment to writing....every....day.
In 2003 I began to get serious about journaling. I have filled, yes filled, several journals. I'm still in the midst of creating my journaling ritual...and my journal. I've gone from fully fledged 8 1/2" x 11" journals to small, suede covered journals. I've chosen hard, plain, black covers to soft, abstract, colorful covers. A multitude of inks have been used from drab black and blue to orange, green and purple. Occasionally I choose red ink, but rarely as it reminds me of my school days and those dreaded red-pen-marks from my teachers highlighting where I’d gone wrong. Initially I always chose lined journals because the perfectionist in me demanded so. If I made a typo, or my penmanship became messy, I'd purchase a new journal and would spend days and days rewriting it all p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y. Some of my journals now have no lines and i-m-p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n is desired. Messy penmanship is passionate. Messy penmanship, bad grammar and miss-spellings lead to "Ah-Ha!" moments. I've gone from writing every single day to not writing at all for months. I used to drench myself in guilt, but now I pick up where ever I am. Today if I do not write on the pages of my journal it's okay. Every road trip requires pit stops; time to refuel, release and stretch out.
In answer to Sanity Journals’ questions:
I typically keep two journals; one for the telling of stories, the sorting of mind-clutter and one for gratitude of others and acknowledgment of my Self. My old journals are unorganized, boxed and stored out of sight and out of mind. Occasionally I pull them out, flip through the pages and while I once would find myself feeling pathetic and depressed…I now see how far I have come and how much my writing has changed from the days of darkness and self-pity. While I still see where I have more work to do and it once appeared that I had not changed at all, I can acknowledge where growth and transformation have taken place.
Today I am Journaling, Journaling, Journaling All the Way. Oh what fun it is ride my pen on a new, blank page. :)