I was going through Bloglines this morning and cleaning out posts -- I tend to go through the new posts really quickly in the morning, checking "keep new" on things that I want to save or read later, and seldom go back to them -- and ran across a post about Wreck This Journal. It's an "activity" book on the order of a guided journal, but in this case, the author, Keri Smith, wants you to really wreck the journal--get it wet, get it dirty, write in it with crayons, wad it up--in short, treat it as a repository for learning and artistic inspiration, and not as a sacred book that you're afraid to write in, and thus, mess up.
I have quite a few blank books that I've bought over the years that I have never--and probably will never--write in. They're just too perfect, and they're intimidating. Hard back books full of pristine creamy paper tend to make me feel that I can only write big things in them, that I need to use a special, nice pen, that I should sit down with the book and a cup of tea and ponder. But I don't have a lot of time for "pondering" lately, so the beautiful blank books stay blank.
However, I've been wrecking a journal of my own.
A few weeks ago I found some 4x6 Jordi Labanda journals at Target on clearance. They have plastic covers, and the pages have faint colored lines just the right distance apart (when I look at journals, I have to open them up and check the lines -- if they're dark black lines, and too far apart, no matter how lovely the cover is, I won't buy it, because I know I wouldn't enjoy writing in it).
It started out as being a notebook to record information--meanings of stones, suppliers and resources, ideas--for my jewelry business. Then I recorded some tarot readings in it, and I wrote down a knitting pattern in it, and I took it on our little vacation to Bennett Spring, and now I'm using it to keep my Second Life notes--places to shop, events, notes on keyboard shortcuts, notes on how to make things and import them into the game.
I carry the journal with me all the time now. I take it to the doctor's office to write down my blood pressure, I took it to physical therapy with me to write down the things I'm supposed to do, I keep it open on my desk at work to write down things I need to buy at the grocery store, Bob's work schedule, anything and everything that I don't want to forget. I skim Second Life fashion blog entries and note places that I want to check out later. I used it to take notes when I was looking for some land to rent -- I wrote down everything I found out so that I would have it to review later.
I don't try to write nicely (or even, sometimes, legibly), I don't even try to write on the lines. I don't have to write with the same pen all the time, whatever is at hand is fine. The way it's written isn't important--it doesn't have to be pretty--the information is the important thing, and as long as I can access it later, the method of getting it in there isn't important.
I have a package of stick-on divider tabs in the front of the book in a pocket that I added (actually an adhesive floppy disk pocket), a pad of small post-it type notes, and a package of Post-It flags, so that I can mark pages that I need to remember to look at later, if I don't want to skim all the pages.
When there's a page that I have to keep referring to (like the page that lists the control commands for Second Life items that require them), I put a tab on it.
This is how I used to use journals, a long time ago. I carried a notebook with me all the time and wrote down everything. That way, I knew that it was all in one place, and I could find it later. I got away from that when I started using an electronic organizer, and while I still use it, I use the organizer now more to hold records -- insurance numbers, phone numbers, addresses, appointments -- and keep all the miscellaneous detritus and minutiae of my daily life in the journal.
I don't know what my journaling will mutate to in the future, but for now I'm enjoying this freeform process.