When I joined the bookstagram community in 2016, having gotten over my initial adoration of the aesthetics and bookish photographers, I began to lust over journals.
Bujo or bullet journaling is an integral community on Instagram, and I was obsessed with the neat typecast handwriting, the busload of colourful stationery and the elegant moleskin covers.
I wanted to be like them.
But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep at it. Decorating the pages took all my time so when it came to write something, I was all burned out. I didn’t have coloured pens and highlighters and all the washi tape I couldn’t afford; if I accidentally smudged a page, I didn’t ever want to look at it again…
So I just gave it up. But would occasionally try to get back into it, failing miserably each time. Maybe, I reasoned, journaling just wasn’t my forte. Little did I realise that the sensationalist title of this post was exactly what was happening to me.
Let’s start at the beginning.
I read Anne Frank’s Diary when I was 13 or 14, which was a very difficult time for me as an awkwardly lanky, pimple-riddled and bespectacled teenager, so I too kept a diary in which I would write mostly about boys – analysing myself succumbing to peer pressure even though I didn’t know how to quantify it back then.
These topics gave way to darker, sadder ones by my early twenties when I realised that both the fields I excelled in – singing and writing – were terrible career choices for the poor.
I blazed through countless cheap notebooks at that stage, pages bloated, the bleeding scrawl an extension of my bleeding heart.
Then somewhere in my mid-twenties, the trajectory evolved; I began plotting stories in bullet points right in the middle of a tirade. Amidst the depressing lamentations were snatches of poetry, scraps of smooth dialogue, sections of delicate prose – beautiful fiction hemmed by torrid fact.
Notebooks came and went away full, the personal commentary became less angry and more hopeful, the stories grew muscle and sinew and blossomed into poems, short stories, novel fragments. I stopped getting writer’s block.
I had begun journaling almost 10 years before I had started to wish I could!
Because this is what journaling is when it’s all stripped down to the bone. You don’t need to own aesthetically pleasing and very expensive stationery (You can, if you want to by all means, I’m looking at highlighters online as I write this… on my journal). You don’t need to be a great artist or have an elegant written script. You don’t even need a topic.
The act of writing has saved me from the dark places I would otherwise have ventured willingly into. And it can manifest in any way that best suits the writer.
All you need is a book and a pen and a heart to spill over the pages.
Do you journal? What does it look like?