Addicted to Journals? Could Be Worse

There are worse addictions than acquiring too many journals and notebooks that go unloved. Doesn’t help when there are always more bright-n-shiny ones out there. I use some of what I have, but I’ll not share a photo of my back-stash else youll discover “in use” and “available to use” are disproportionate in the wrong direction.

Truth is, other than my Nanami Seven Seas Writer A5 journal (Tomoe River paper) in use most days and replaced in like-kind once filled, most of my past journals are seldom complete. At some point, I get antsy to try a different one. The only other journal I’ve ever stuck with and filled is the Blackwing Slate. Even my faithful Moleskines from decades past I rarely filled. Moleskines were easy to find, an iconic design, with an alluring cachet from long-ago famous writers and travelers who used them. I abandoned Moleskines when I found other journals with better paper.

Over the last year since I’ve ramped up writing efforts, I’ve wanted to reduce active journals/notebooks down to just a few (at one point I had eight notebooks or journals designated for different needs). I’ve even fantasized about an extreme winter project digitizing pages of past journals and notebooks. One digital file, where everything’s sorted chronologically and tagged, is an intriguing idea.

No one is going to appreciate that massive digitizing effort. If I were a famous author, my sons might make millions selling my abridged journals after my last “change of address.” The naked truth is they will neither have use of these nor care much about reading the old man’s written ravings.

To be honest, the reason I’ve journaled was never for later use, but to capture my thinking at the time and work out issues or other concerns. While I’ve kept most of them, the process was always a consumable activity, meant for the moment. Yet they sometimes included story ideas which might contain something worth pursuing. But there’s the realization that if you’ve scratched out an idea, and haven’t worked it within a reasonable time, then it’s likely not worth pursuing.

Adopting a new (to me) method discovered through reading about various authors’ work processes, I’m moving to a single journal to capture everything: personal thoughts, writing ideas, writing drafts, insights from books read, and anything else that comes to me. With everything in one place, I can find something later when my muse gets bored, slogs off the dust and cobwebs on an old idea, and shouts, “Hey, remember this one? Could be good stuff. Do something with it, dummy.” Yes, my muse is sometimes neither patient nor tolerant with me. After all, enduring hundreds of ideas birthed, yet never reared, can leave one’s muse a little pissy sometimes.

My new primary journal? While still in the new-thing stage, I’m loving the Japanese Midori MD Notebook A5 – blank pages. These are plain and utilitarian notebooks with fantastic Japanese paper, plus the pages lay flat. When one journal is full, I’ll remove it and insert another Midori MD A5 in the cover and continue writing.

I’m also figuring out whether I want to keep my current commonplace index card system or change to a Midori MD Diary A6 notebook to capture quotes and conversation overheard. The A6 notebook allows for serendipity in browsing later, but the index card organization makes finding topics easier.

To complete the paper toolkit for my needs, I will continue using a few pocket notebooks for lists, appointments, jot-downs (typically a Field Notes): one in my Galen Leather Writers Bank Bag, and one in a Rickshaw Bags Pocket Notebook Folio.

There’s no shame in confessing I’ve lost count of how many journals and notebooks I’ve used over the decades of journaling and note taking, always moving to some new and cooler, or trying different sizes, papers, etc., before completing most of them. Seems I may have been more interested in the tools than the reason to use them.

Time will tell whether this approach will avert my eyes from future bright-n-shiny notebooks, but the desire to make things simpler and autopilot-like seems important to me as I devote much more time focusing on The Work.

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