Monthly Archives: March 2015

Clearing up a misunderstanding

30th March 2015

Journaling vs. writing

Last week I posted the above photo on my instagram. It’s a photo of all the journals I filled in the last two and half months. I was stoked to have filled as many journals in that time and posted it in excitement. What I didn’t think through properly was how it would make someone feel bad about how few journals they have filled in comparison. Then my dear friend Jen of pointed something out to me. I did not make it clear to everyone that writing in my notebooks is my full-time job.

Full-time job

I consider writing in my journals as a major part of my job. I am a writer, and I write about journaling. So it’s natural for me to spend almost every working moment of my day with my nose in my journals. I am also in the process of writing a book about journaling. I like to write all my first drafts by hand, so a lot of what I fill my journals are notes for my book. In addition, I do a lot of my art work in my notebooks.

What I failed to explain when I posted this photo was that I spend almost all day, every day filling these notebooks. That’s why I fill so many. There is no magic that I know that you don’t. It’s simply my job, just as your job is something you spend a large part of your time doing. I absolutely don’t want you to look at my pile, and feel bad that you’ve only filled in one journal so far. I think it’s absolutely amazing that you have filled one journal already!

To consider this point, I had a look at what type of things I fill my notebook pages with, and it looks as follows:

10% – journaling

50% – book related stuff

20% – Art input (dictionary of me, etc.)

20% – Art output

As you can see, actual journaling only consists 10% of all my writing. There are 13 journals in the photo, which means at most, my journaling has filled a notebook and a bit. I think this is quite normal.

Writing practice vs. Journaling practice

This confusion relates to a point that I feel strongly about. That writing practice and journaling practice are not the same thing. Yes a lot of writers use journaling as part of their writing practice. I am one of those people. I find journaling helps with getting used to writing down my thoughts better. I use journaling as a warm up every morning so my writing process can happen more smoothly.

There’s a lot stress and anxiety in journaling right now because many people try to apply writing principals to their journaling practice. Morning Pages is a classic example of this. Morning pages is not a journaling practice, it’s a writing practice. The Artist’s Way, the book the Morning Pages come from, is not a book about journaling. It’s a book about writing, about becoming professional creatives. To consider this to be a good journaling practice, and to force yourself to write three pages a day as a journaling practice, is not going to make you better at journaling. I have spoke to too many people who consider themselves to be ‘bad at journaling’ because they tried the Morning Pages and couldn’t keep it up. Well, you are not bad at journaling.

Journaling everyday not equal to good journaling

Another dangerous notion is that you must journal every day in order to be good at journaling. It makes good sense that if you are a writer, you should write everyday. On the other hand, journaling isn’t a job. It’s a tool. It’s a tool that helps you make time for yourself, time for introspection, time for objectivity and time for self care. That sort of time is absolutely valuable and I think everyone should do it often. However, this doesn’t necessarily need to be made up 100% from journaling. There are many other things you can do too, such as meditation, yoga, a long hot bath, or a long walk.

What is important in a journaling practice is to learning to listen to how much and how often you need to journal. Not how much or how often someone else is doing it. I need to spend a lot more time in my journals because it’s my job. If journaling every day helps you too, then you should journal every day. If three times a week works better for you, then you should do that. If one journaling session a month works for you, then that is what you should do.

We all use our notebooks for different reasons and different uses. It makes absolutely no sense to compare your stack to someone else’s stack. What I would like us to do is focus more on what we get out of the experience of using our notebooks. We should all be getting exactly what we need from our journaling practices, not what someone else needs from their journaling practice.


How to make travel journaling easy

17th March 2015

Easy way to keep a travel journal.

I used to collect tickets and leaflets whenever I went travelling. I collected them with the good intentions of doing ‘something’ with them once I got home. However, once I did get home and pulled out the big pile of stuff from the plastic bag, I always felt too overwhelmed to do anything about it. Where do I start? How do I even organise these? I don’t even know in what order they should go. Ugh.

To get me motivated, I’d log on to Youtube hoping for some inspiration, only to be faced with pages after pages of beautifully detailed and arty travel journal pages I had no hope of doing. Those gorgeous art travel journal pages vs. my mess of a pile of leaflets. Sigh. I’d pile the mess up on the bookshelf, telling myself I’d do something with them another time (and then don’t).

I got tired of not actually doing anything with these things I collected in my travels, and of them sitting wasted on my bookcase. So I decided I HAD to do something about it for fears of ending up eighty years-old and my house full of plastic bags of old leaflets and tickets with no enjoyable way of going through them.

The key for me was to make the process as easy as possible. Just let go of the notion of keeping beautiful travel journals, detailed notes, etc., and focus on getting the bits and pieces into some order. This ‘keep it simple’ approach has worked for me and I now have 9 travel journal notebooks bursting with beautiful memories.

Easy way to keep a travel journal.

Here is the framework in which I do my travel journaling:

  1. Washi tape every thing that I can physically stick into a notebook
  2. Keep everything in chronological order, as much as possible
  3. Date every entry/page
  4. Write one line comments where needed

Easy way to keep a travel journal.

Doing the above only takes about five minutes each day. There’s no real serious recording of the day to be done (although you can do that too) and no need to recall everything you did that day. Just stick, stick, stick.

This framework allows me to:

  1. Keep a complete and chronological record of my travels
  2. Do it in just 5 minutes a day
  3. Lets me record fresh details about the trip (as I can do it at the end of each day)
  4. Lets me workout dates and places if needed later on
  5. Find out almost any details of my travels later, if that is needed
  6. Not spend ages writing out the above details on the ‘just incase someone asks me a question about it twenty years down the line’
  7. Keep all the leaflets and tickets in an organised fashion, rather than in a plastic bag!

Some tips

Easy way to keep a travel journal.

  • Use washi tape instead of glue – it’s so much faster and neater
  • Use thin softcovers or spiral notebooks. I like using Moleskine Cahiers (80 pages) or Leuchtturm Jottbooks (60 pages).
  • I don’t bother with receipts any more as most will fade with time. If you want to keep a particular receipt in your journal, photocopy them when you get home and stick that in to your journal so it won’t fade with time.
  • If there’s something interesting on the back of an item, only tape one side down so you can flip and see the back
  • Conversely, if something doesn’t have anything on the back, tape down at least two sides so you know there’s nothing on the back when you are flipping through your journals in the future

Items I put in my journal

I put pretty much anything that I can stick into a notebook, that was relevant to the trip.


Easy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal.

I stick every ticket I can get my hands on. I have tickets from planes, trains, buses, and ferries. I also have entry tickets to museums, art galleries, shows, tours and tourist attractions. They are great to keep as often they have the date you bought the tickets, which can be used as markers if you ever need to go back and write more about the trip.

Leaflets and Maps

Easy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal.

I love picking up leaflets and maps as I go. Leaflets are a great way to gather information about the places you’ve visited, without having to make extra effort to make note of stuff like their address, what it’s about, etc., as leaflets usually cover these details.

At the end of the stay in each city, I stick in the street map I have been using to navigate around the city. At the end of each day, I mark the route we walked that day on the map. By the end of our time in that place, the map represents every street we’ve walked in that city.

Post cards

Easy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal.

Whenever I go to an art museum and meet a piece of art that really pulls me in, I buy a postcard of that painting in the museum shop (if they have it, which they sometimes, very sadly, don’t). I date the postcards and write a quick paragraph about why I liked the piece. It’s like creating your own little art gallery of works you like the most.

Found stickersEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal.

I adore found stickers! The top photo is the cover of one of my travel journals, covered in stickers been given away at the New York Maker Faire 2014. I think I actually pushed some children aside to get some of them. I don’t just stick to purposely made stickers. If it has a sticky back to it, it will go into my journal, such as luggage tags and parcel stickers.

Food WrappingsEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal.

As odd as these may seem, they are my absolute favourite items to find in my journals when I am flipping through them long after the trip is over. I’ve kept anything from ice cream cones, serviettes and beer coasters.

My number one favourite item I have ever stuck in my journal is the orange Schneider hot dog wrapper you see in the second picture. The hot dog was a surprise gift from a wonderful woman we happened to be on the same tour with going through Canada. Whilst waiting to go on the glacier bus trip at the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Center, she had bought a hot dog. My face when I saw the hot dog must’ve been one of desperation as after the tour she ran up behind me and handed me a steaming hot dog. I love that the wrapper reminds me of this beautiful lady and her act of kindness that totally made my day.

Business cards

Easy way to keep a travel journal.

I make an effort to pick up business cards from any hotels, hostels, restaurants, shops and places I visit. This is for the same reason I collect leaflets, they allow me to keep note of names and address of places I’ve visited without me having to write anything down.

Left over stamps
Easy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal.

I did a project during my travels last summer of writing a postcard to my mum every single day I was on the road. It ended up being about 150 postcards in total. To make it easier for myself, I bought stamps in bulk. I love that the stamps in my journal are a little reminder of my organisational skills during this project.

Personal notes from peopleEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal.

Another absolute favourite thing to put into my journals. When someone leaves me a little note (or when I write them a note and they don’t keep it), they go straight into my notebook. It’s a physical representation of the connection with people you make along the way.

Other itemsEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal. http://journalingsage.comEasy way to keep a travel journal.

I also keep things like pretty or interesting paper bags that came with something I bought, stamps I find (particularly around Japan) and samples of washi tapes I bought whilst travelling.

I hope this post has let you know that you don’t have to make a beautiful travel journal. There is so much value in a simple stick-in-and-date style of travel journaling. You don’t have to get fancy to keep hold of all the memories from your trip.

I’m not saying this is the way you should travel journal. I think it’s wonderful if you can spare long enough time at the end of each travel day to write a detailed account of everything you did, saw and experienced. However, if you are struggling with keeping a travel journal because of all sorts of expectations you have about how it should be, I would love it if you consider simplifying the process.

What’s important is that you just get them into some sort of order so it is easy for you to flip through later. From here you can do so much, such as recreate the trip in detail for a book or a blog post, or make beautifully arty travel journal with the items in these journals acting as your resource.

March Journaling Prompts

1st March 2015

March Journal Prompt. Daily Journaling Prompt for Creative Happiness.

  1. What projects are you stalling on because you worry others won’t approve?
  2. What values do you want your life to align with?
  3. What one action can you take today that will bring you closer to where you want to be tomorrow?
  4. Which season do you most look forward to? What does that season give you?
  5. What would you go and do if you believed you were enough?
  6. What things about you are you trying to appear ‘normal’? Why are you trying so hard to hide who you are?
  7. What embodies the word ‘divine’ to you?
  8. What else could your life mean? What else? What else? What else?
  9. Do you spend your time, energy and life for yourself or someone else? Are you happy with that?
  10. Who would you love to collaborate with? What qualities would they bring to the team?
  11. What restful thing are you going to do for yourself today?
  12. What do you want to learn today?
  13. What would you put into a ‘professional survival kit’ for your work?
  14. What or who are you ready to let go of today?
  15. What’s stopping you from opening your heart more fully?
  16. What 5 childhood activities would you love to bring back into your life?
  17. What criticism has hurt you recently? Why did it hurt so bad?
  18. What would you love to stay up late into the night with someone and talk about?
  19. What have you talked yourself out of doing this week?
  20. If you had to add something to humanity, what would it be?
  21. In what ways would you like to manifest your own spirituality in your life?
  22. Write all the things you associate with the word ‘joyful’.
  23. What big life decision have you been toying with in your mind for a while now?
  24. What can you change today to bring more integrity into your life?
  25. What if the question was ‘what should you do with your life RIGHT NOW?’ What would you change?
  26. What do you want to be known for?
  27. Are you happy with the way you are spending money? What do you want to change?
  28. What one word could you fill an entire page of your journal with?
  29. What habit do you want to change today?
  30. This week, my body is yearning for some…
  31. Who embodies ‘burning passion’ to you? What did they do?