Pick Your Journaling Tools and Prime the Pump

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
Throw my journals in the lake!


Everybody brave enough tells me my handwriting is not as pretty as it should be for a girl. I say, so?  I’ve got 26 journals.

It’s true, I have 26 journals written over 24 years.  That’s enough I can’t hide them between the mattresses anymore.  It’s also enough that I figure it’s too daunting for my family members to read, anyway. I did buy a big treasure chest to store them in.  You might want to consider what you will eventually do with your journals as you fill them up and they won’t fit between the mattresses anymore.

To gain reward for journaling, you have to journal everyday for 24 years.  (I lie.  I had long stretches of journaling silence.) But keep this in mind.  Many biographies have been written because descendants treasured their ancestors’ diaries.  I think of Lord Byron who lived in the 1700s, and I just recently read his biography.

If I tell you it’s completely up to you what journaling tools you pick, this blog is over.  So here is my experience.  Mine and mine alone.

Tool #1:  The Journal

If you’re new to journaling, go ahead, for inspiration, and buy a leather journal, a pretty journal, a journal with a lock.  But be aware, if you intend to be prolific, you will probably settle on ruled composition notebooks.  Ruled composition journals cost about $3.  Pretty journals might start at $30.  Ruled composition notebooks organize neatly in the treasure chest.  Ornamental diaries are unruly.

Tool #2:  The Pen

I do find the choice of pen to be important because you want to be comfortable while you’re writing.

WARNING:  DO NOT USE PENCIL.  I cry everytime I tell this story.  Georgia Tuxbury who leads the Alamo Country Club’s “Telling Your Life Story” writing group, kept diaries as a teenager during WW II.  Priceless, yes?  I urged her to transcribe them.  She said, “I would love to transcribe them, but I wrote them in pencil, they faded, and no one can read them anymore.”

Personally, I like Bic medium point pens the best.  Fine point feels ‘scratchy.’  And I make more mistakes when writing with gel.  I’ve tried expensive pens, thinking my words would come out more flowery, but often the body of the pen is too fat or too skinny for comfortable writing.  So I’ve become habituated to cheap medium point Bic in packs of twelve.  I say habituated because it’s like my writing mind clicks on when I pick up a Bic.

But the color is a thing to play with.  When we took essay tests in anthropology classes, we had to use black ink only!!!  I don’t know why the professors made such a big deal out of black ink only!!!, but it’s the reason my journals are written in blue ink during that time.  However, when I want to pull off serious adult journaling, I do use black ink.  Red ink?  I don’t know why, but it shouts “nah” when I see it filling up one of my journals.


Tool #3:  Your Handwriting  3 points.

  1.  After I realized I was stacking up the journals, the content became more important than my ugly handwriting.  Seeing my ugly handwriting filling an entire journal day by day is very satisfying.  It’s also cool when you run out of ink.
  2. Now, this is a real conundrum and it bothers me every time I sit down to journal. For these days I journal to make indelible my grandchildren’s childhood. Can you guess what the problem is?   My grandkids can’t read their journal. They don’t teach cursive in school anymore!  Lord Byron’s diaries were in cursive.  Will I lose out on having my biography read by thousands in the year 2400 because in 2000 they quit teaching cursive?
  3. And don’t say “electronic journal.”  My final precaution is:  save electronic journaling for travelogues.  Something about fingers to pen to paper is how the soul likes to communicate.

Remember, the soul is the earthly up-welling of The Source.  This implies we’re in the realm of Water.  So, we might think of journaling as priming the pump between The Source and your soul.

I’m going to tell you this: your journaling tools will pick you.  You may think you pick them, but when you look back, you will be surprised that the soul was active all along.  So go ahead and Follow Your Heart when you’re selecting your tools of the Journaling trade.  And I’ll love to know what you discover along the way.

Author: Katherine Brittain

Writer/Cultural Anthropologist

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