When I set up my bullet journal last year, I knew that I wanted to carve out space to return to long-form journaling. Fellow writers and diarists will know just how therapeutic it can be to simply offload thoughts in a completely private place – that’s what I hoped for from mine. I’m a lifelong journaller. I filled up decorative notebooks with lengthy entries about everything from the mundane to the extraordinary. I documented arguments with friends, observations of a school-scape that I never quite understood and that never understood me, first loves, lost loves, even things as microscopic as a beautiful cake that my parents chose for my 16th birthday. In many ways, it’s like watching jigsaw pieces fall into place, to know that this blog has returned to something of the same ilk.
Now that we’re two months in to 2021, I wanted to share a little more about my long-form journaling process because I know many of us are one and the same. Posts on Daisybutter have slowed down a smidge, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it comes as I began to handwrite long-form entries in my bullet journal again. Oftentimes, it’s nice to reserve thoughts for myself – a real luxury in these millennial times of ‘oversharing’.
Throw all writing systems out of the window
As a writer by trade, it feels counterintuitive to recommend throwing all systems out of the window. But when it comes to candid journalling, there’s nothing more useful than treating it like a brain dump. Let your pen scribe anything going through your mind: how delicious (or disappointing) your breakfast was, what your dream was last night, how a meeting went at work, unfinished ideas for that venture of yours. Spill them all. Let time itself do the work in connecting the dots.
My own entries feel like a bit like a brain scramble, if I’m honest. But in a good way. I just picked my bullet journal up, for instance, and looking back at my shaky script from as soon as 2nd January makes me see how far I’ve already come in 2021. Fragment thoughts and odd musings will and do eventually fall into place.
Use prompts, if needed
Many people also find journalling prompts useful. Personally I gravitate to these at more significant parts of my year, like my birthday or the new year, but I can certainly see the appeal if you’re a novice to confronting your own thoughts. You could use the same prompt(s) daily, or spend a day at a time tackling one at a time – whichever works best for you. Of course it’s worth bearing in mind that prompts are only useful to a certain extent, and oftentimes they may even hinder you from what you do want to say.
- Write about one standout moment from your day.
- Note down something you’re looking forward today.
- What’s for lunch?
- What would you say to your best friend right now, if you were sat down for a coffee?
Return to it throughout the day
Something that I’m really getting into is returning to my journal ‘entry’ throughout the day. I’m not committed enough for morning pages, but I do enjoy starting my long-form writing in the morning. Often I offload worries about the day ahead, or notes about a dream, or even my horoscope reading for the day (I know, I’m so Pisces it hurts… softly). My morning scribbles always feel the most honest, and so I try to make an effort to grab my journal when I head downstairs for my morning coffee.
Having said that, afternoons are bathed in aspiration. It’s when I really start to kick my brain into gear, and some of my best writing and our best & Chai ideas bubble up in the afternoons. So I pick up my pen, make a timestamp and then continue writing. Again, looking back at some of my January entries, I can really see pockets of self growth.
How do you journal? Are you a long-form diarist?