Saturday, August 6, 2011

Journals: Why I can't use them

(Lucy & Alastair, this is for you)

Journals. Those wonderful bundles of beautiful pages wrapped in leather, moleskin, plastic or cardboard (depending on how cheep you are).

I love journals. Particularly those fabulous leather bound ones with textured natural paper. I love them. LOVE. The problem... I just can't bring myself to use them.

It's the same every time. I go to the store, ogle and fondle each book. My fingers caress that one special journal and I clutch it to my chest as I make my way to the cash register. Then I get home, sit down ready to put my brilliant words onto theses beautiful pages. My pen hovers over the paper and... and... all those brilliant words suddenly seem dull and stupid. I can't put THAT on the first page! I need something poignant. Something inspirational. Something... better then what I can come up with.

Defeated, I put the journal on the shelf to wait for that striking bolt of inspiration. After a year or two I began to realize that I would never be able to use them. I was just too scared to make a 'mistake'. Of course the whole point of a idea notebook or journal is to jot down silly weird ideas that maybe you can use later. It's not supposed to be perfect, but I could never get over the fact that I paid $10, $15 or more for this @#&%! journal and I better damn well put something good in it to justify spending that much.

Soon I realized that all my best (and worst) ideas were written on the back of napkins, junk mail envelopes and wrinkled scraps of paper. Why was it so easy for me to write on those and not my fancy journal? Because they were cheep. I didn't feel pressured to write anything good, so I just wrote what I felt like. I let my creative juices flow because it's just a piece of junk mail, it's not like I can make it worse.

The next time I went to the store, instead of picking up a shiny leather bound beauty, I found the cheapest 5" x 8" notebook I could get. I got a three pack and brought it home. That was a couple years ago and as you can see from the picture, it's worked quite well for me. Each of those notebooks is filled with scribbles (and I mean FILLED). Some brilliant. Some, well, less so. But you can't get to the good stuff until you get the bad stuff out of your head. If you feel the pressure to put only good stuff in your beautiful journal, then maybe going simpler (and cheaper, I'm always for the cheep) will work better for you. I carry one with me everywhere now.

It's only a few dollars to give it a try (that's the beauty of it).

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