So what actually is journalling?
Guest post by Ian Megrath - The Paper Sparrow, who hosts our monthly Journal Club at our Hunter Paper store in East Belfast.
Follow Ian's journalling on Instagram @the.paper.sparrow
Above: Ian's Traveler's Co Journal
It’s a question I’m often asked, both with curiosity and slight derision or scepticism. It is like “Dear Diary…”? Is it like scrapbooking? Is it like project management?
The answer to all these questions is yes, and more. Journalling is recording, chronicling, capturing moments on paper. It is long-form writing; it is concise bullet points. It is planning and forecasting but also reflecting and considering.
Journalling is a Venn diagram of crafts and practices, pulling from scrapbooking, photography, calligraphy, sketching & design. It is a place to write your deepest inner thoughts or to jot down your to-do list. It can be a useful tool for planning and organising or a safe space to share your hopes and worries.
Above: one of Ian's journal spreads
I sporadically kept a journal in my teens. I always went into it with the greatest of intenions, buying myself a new diary to eagerly start in January. I’d be committed this time, I’d write in it daily, documenting my achievements and experiences, the emotions I couldn’t say out loud. It would be a testament to the turmoil of my teenage years that would be a valuable tool when I got older. It would last around 2 weeks. I didn’t have much of a social life and I lived in the (probably unfounded) fear of it being found and read. I didn’t write about my emotional journey; I wrote about what I had for my tea.
But I kept that romanticised notion of committing my life to the page for years, amassing a collection of notebooks that were too good to use. My handwriting, my drawings, my life was too messy or mundane to share on these pristine pages. Lockdown 2020 came around and I was placed on a long furlough which left me with too much time and too many thoughts, so I turned to the Traveler’s Notebook my husband had bought me the previous Christmas. Again, I had barely used the inserts for fear of ruining them with my derailed train of thought.
But I came to the realisation, it’s just paper.
Above: Ian's favourite fountain pen - the Kaweco Sport
Stationery purists will scream into the void at this statement as paper is a very important material and should be respected. Agreed, but ultimately, it is made to be used. Whether writing a letter or making an aeroplane, it’s just paper. It’s there for you to use as you need. This epiphany meant I lost that fear of the blank first page. My journal was my journal, to write, draw, decorate as I wanted. I leapt wholeheartedly into the rabbit hole, discovering, or rediscovering, my dormant love of stationery.
I describe my journal as a mirror, not a window. My journal is for reflection, not looking forward. As an anxious person, seeing a list in front of me engages my procrastination reflex and I will avoid it. But let me complete the tasks and write about it after, no worries. I think I need the time and perspective to process my emotions, thoughts or feeling of the moment and journal about them later, that could be later that day or even that week.
I will decorate my pages with ephemera, like tickets or labels – mementos of a day well spent. Collaging these fragments with stickers, washi tape, stamps and scraps, they create a canvas for me to write on, write around, write through. I let my feelings be reflected in the colours I choose if I don’t have the words or courage to write. If I don’t have my own words to describe my day; I’ll use someone else’s be it a song, quote or poem.
This is not everyone’s method and that is the joy and wonder of journalling. There is no correct way to do it. As individual as we all are, our journals are going to be also.
Above: Our journal club in full swing
I have tried many forms of journalling over the subsequent years, from the highly functional and organised bullet journal method, to junk journaling – crafting my own messy creations from scraps of paper. I’ve found a supportive, inspiring and encouraging community who share ideas and their own journals to help others join the movement. It has allowed me to move way beyond my comfort zone, as I started to host the monthly Journal Club here in Hunter Paper Co. It’s been heart-warming to discover like minded folks who return each month to share our comfortable safe space, chat and reflect and get lost in the simple pleasures of pen and paper (and washi tape, stickers, stamps…)