On Writing

On Journaling

I read my old personal diary of year 2000 some months ago and thought, “What a waste of time.” I wrote in that diary and in subsequent diaries in full confidence that it would be terrific reading a decade or two later. I was sure that I would smile at the memories as I read the names of my friends and the lecturers. But weirdly enough, it did not work that way. I checked out the 2006 diary which was written during my pregnancy. It did remind me of the good old days of glow and happiness but I did not glean anything extra from the diary as such. It did not exactly throw my into that moment and make me re-live it. Just writing “Today is ABC’s wedding” or “Yesterday I wrote my English exam” will not open the flood gates of memory, nostalgia and emotion. I was vaguely reminded
of this post. (Note to self: Read more of Shammi’s blog. She is fun.)

I realised that I had been doing it wrong all along and I googled what good journalling is like. I got the same answer. “There is no right answer. Do whatever pleases you.”

Why, thank you very much, but that is a non-answer and I am fed up of people telling me that it is ok to be myself and to do what pleases me. I figured that out in the year 1984 shortly before my
4th birthday. I’m actually looking for some real tips in journalling.

And then there are those who dump a huge pile of what are called ‘prompts’. They go something like this.

1) Your favourite part of the day.
2) Your top priority
3) Advice to your younger self
4) A person you’d like to meet
4) A person you’d like to murder

This strongly reminds me of my English composition notebook from my 11th standard when my English Teacher wanted us to write an essay “Know Thyself”. I was not going to get introspective infront
of the whole class. No…Way. No one in the class wanted to write that essay. I don’t even remember what eventually happened to that assignment.

So I tried a few things. I have been journalling for the past 3 months and this is where I am right now.

I have 2 notebooks to journal. Neither are diaries with pre-printed dates on them.

The first is a regular rough note. This is the notebook I used to write office to-dos and grocery lists. Recently I started including something else in it. Every morning when I start the day I
wrote down a thought or two about whatever blogposts I read or maybe a YouTube video I watched on my commute to office that morning or previous evening. A quick look at the phone browser
history and YouTube history gives me an idea if I don’t get an idea of what to write.

Of course it seemed a bit lame when I first started to do it. None of this is important. I may have dipped myself completely into a YouTube channel dedicated to the lamest of jokes for about
10 days. Or maybe I binge-watched Goundamani comedy until the phone’s battery gave out. Soon I was writing, writing and writing more. I got another idea and took screenshots on the phone
whenever I watched or read something. I also took screenshots of recommended videos or articles that seem intriguing but have to remain in the yet-to-checkout list. And then I check out my
screenshots folder and jot down a line about every article that intrigued me.

My handwriting in this notebook should be seen to be believed. It is terrible. Only I can decode it right now. But even I’d not have a hope of decoding that unholy mess in a year or so. I doodle on it
with the same pen that I was writing with. If there is one thing more terrible than my handwriting, it is my doodle.

This is where the second notebook comes in. This is a more dignified notebook. I use only inkpens to write in it. I write neatly and clearly in it. You’d scarely believe that the same person
wrote both the notebooks. I write the same things that I wrote in NoteBook One. But each thought is given a clear bullet point and I even give headlines to some entries. I write for a specific
audience. Myself. I should understand every single word in it. I should identify with the contents even decades after it is written.

Soon I started to include entries for weddings I attended that week, conversations I had with an old friend, conversations I overheard in the cafeteria etc. Somehow writing about mundane fstuff
unlocked the chronicler within and soon I wanted to jot everything I witnessed around me down.

I don’t write in this notebook everyday. I dump a week’s worth of thought into it at one go. This works better for me. I take my time when doodling in it. I first pencil it in and then use a fineliner.
I realise that I have been wasting paper more than I needed to. Rough notes can be filled with penciled in notes that could be erased and the space reused.

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3 thoughts on “On Journaling”

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