I’m a big supporter of journals, and using them. In fact, I have 3 going at present. One for personal stuff, one for work-related stuff, and one specifically for my relationship (I’ll explain the second two in their own posts, but I feel the first one is self explanatory). Why? because after I’ve taken all the random crap from my head and put it on paper, it’s much easier to sort through and look at objectively. I can decide what to impulses and ideas to act on, and what to stick on the back burner and let stew for a while. Or forever.
Some people, though, have never journaled. Yes, we can use this as a verb now. It’s a common enough practice to be warranted. I went shopping for journals and ran into someone who was shopping for his first one. As in, first ever. The poor guy watched me flip through three or four of them before deciding which ones I wanted, and asked me how I could make the choice so decisively. I ended up giving him a quick run-down on what I look for in a journal.
Wide ruled? College ruled? Blank?
A lot of people have a preference, and yet, some people don’t understand WHY we have these preferences. Well, clueless people who may or may not be new to journaling: I am here to help.
The biggest reason that these preferences exist has to do with each individual person’s penmanship. Someone who writes with large loopy letters is going to prefer wide ruled. Someone who likes to doodle a lot mid-writing will go with a blank journal every time. People who have small, tidy handwriting will usually pick a college ruled book over either of the others. If you don’t know what your preference is, simply try each of them and decide which one your handwriting looks best in. And if you find you don’t care? So what. You don’t HAVE to have a preference like the rest of us snobs. My own preference is a journal with blank pages, but I’ll happily use a journal with either wide or college lines if I like the cover enough.
Aside from ruling, I think it’s important to consider page size and number of pages. I’m not a fan of super-tiny books. Some people are. I feel like having to stop and turn pages every paragraph wrecks my rhythm. As for page number, I’ve given up on the concept of using one journal for each year- which was my original goal when I started. I go through several a year because I write in them A LOT. But I like to make sure I’ll be able to use a journal for at least a few months at a time.
Binding. I dislike spiral-bound books as the pages get torn up too easily, and they turn up missing. I’m rough on my journals, so I like hard-backs. Or leather bound. Mmmphffff. Sexy.
Last but not least, price. I’ve gotten $3 journals at Wal-Mart that I have been perfectly satisfied with. They were reasonably attractive, sturdy, and served me very well. I like getting things on the cheap, so I surf clearance and sale sections, though I also have a subscription to Papergang which satisfies my feminine desire for higher-end stationery stuffs (journals included. I just got a very cute one in the December box).
Anyway, I know it seems like there’s a lot of things I consider, but for the most part, you can just dive right in, grab one you like, and get to writing in it. That’s what it’s there for. Don’t fret over whether or not you’re picking the ‘right’ one. If you’re using it, and it’s helping you, then it’s the right one, whether it looks the way you imagine it or not.