Like most writers, I imagine, I have, and carry with me, what I used to think of as my notebook.
Now I realise it's my journal, in which I track – well, everything. In it goes my life:
- details of my immediate inner and outer life: family, animals, friends, significant events, the garden and the rest of the natural world here in our Devon valley, the seasons' turning, weather and natural events, story and myth, travel journalling when I'm visiting the Hebrides or Brittany or the Cévennes mountains, and my work;
- notes about place;
- nature notes;
- the big picture: outer collective stuff – political events, foreign affairs, the environment, issues of social justice;
- poems and ideas for poems;
- stream-of-consciousness writing;
- philosophical notes;
- photos, postcards, pictures and sketches (sometimes I'll collage or at least customise the cover);
- my dreams;
- snippets of conversation;
- things I've cut out and pasted in, or copied in by hand, from publications;
- records of my life;
- titles of books I'd like to read, music to listen to, films to see, or that I want to recommend, or that have been recommended to me by others;
- what I'm reading;
- ideas for workshops, courses or books of my own;
- first drafts;
- things that I don't want to forget;
- things that have disturbed my balance (useful to track these over time and see what's changed in my reactions and responses; if nothing, then notes to self to pay attention to these issues);
- things I want consciously to work on;
- imagined dialogues with or unsent letters to people where there's unfinished business, and/or people I care about or have cared about, living or dead;
- joyful events (lest you should think it's all navel-gazing misery);
- records of my spiritual/psychological/literary growth;
- record of acceptances of literary stuff sent out;
- the occasional rant;
- a kind of checking-in at the year's turning points;
- workings-out of soul-stuff;
- and all the rest, including a kind of encyclopaedia of my own esoteric interests.
Through revisiting these journals from time to time, and perhaps especially the freewriting sessions and the dream notes, I track long distance themes in my life, and their resolution (or otherwise). (I can't over-estimate the value of this latter in a life trying to be lived consciously.) So the journal is also a therapist.
It's very liberating. A journal is private. It's not for public consumption; it's a place to become intimate with oneself. And it's a way of not forgetting.
I mention all this because it was good to be back in an environment the other day, at the Cornwall workshop, where we were talking about the usefulness of a journal, and of the conjoining of the creative and reflective processes, and how therapeutic paying attention to these things through writing can be. And how often we forget its value.
Or permit ourselves even just 10 minutes a day to visit our journal.
'The hardest thing to do is doing what you want to do. As soon as you think of it, there are innumerable reasons why you should not do it. Writing this book, for instance. I spent a whole day on the beach arguing with myself. And all that time, the waves splashed miraculous towers onto the beach, birds ran through water tunnels and up to my feet, the white winter sun made mirrors in my face. I could have given in to this beauty and become one with my walk. But I didn't because I kept on talking in my head.
'What did I talk about then? What was this voice in my head arguing, louder than the waves of the ocean? It was telling me what this journal had to be! How it had to be. What could be in it and what not. Mostly it was telling me that this project was not a good idea... See, you can't do it! Stop right now. You began it the wrong way, this project. This is not the right way.
'I looked at the sky through the white light and the water mist, and my chest was so constricted from all these arguments that I was amazed how birds could keep themselves in the air. Then I realized, perhaps they have no little voices in their head, telling them they can't do things. Imagine every time a bird wanted to fly, it stopped breathing long enough to think why it probably shouldn't fly. You would have a lot of lame-winged contorted creatures hopping around on the beach.'
(From A Walk Between Heaven and Earth, Burghild Nina Holzer.)
Buy a pen you like to write with. Find a notebook you want to write in; or make your own. There are many examples on the web, and many books on creative journalling.
Here's a link that might be of interest to you: https://journalwritershandbook.wordpress.com/
You could also go on a bookmaking/binding course, such as those run by Rachel Hazell (can personally vouch for them): http://www.hazelldesignsbooks.co.uk/hazell_designs_books_about.php