17 January 2012

The pleasure of notebooks/journals

Domestic upheaval (of the bathroom-renovation kind) means that the stack of "morning pages" notebooks that have been languishing underneath the spare towels for about a decade have again seen light of day.
I won't be opening them to read all that boring stuff! At the time, the daily dumping of negativity was a real help, and later this daily writing session turned into a way to practise generating ideas, which is a good skill to develop. Over the years, as the ideas became more plentiful, the writings became much more positive - and so did I. (It does take a while.............)

Some people are lost without their smartphone or ipad - and some of us are lost without our companion notebook, recording the chronology of the tiny events that make up our lives. Or our grand thoughts (which are arguably the same thing). We'll have these bits of our histories to look back on, when memory has failed - "the palest ink is lasts longer than the best memory".

Choice of notebook is crucial, and it can take half a lifetime to find the right one. Having avoided the Moleskine craze (overpriced, undersized, yet so very trendy) I found a generic notebook at the local branch of a big stationers and bought what may be a lifetime supply. It has quality paper, sturdy binding, flexible cover, a resilient elastic round the middle; I number the pages and index them as I go along (but haven't yet used the indexes to find stuff!).
As Robert Genn wrote recently, about notebook-keeping:
"Understanding that we become what we think, advanced Moleskiners avoid three main negatives--nostalgic regret, adherence to outcome, and fearful anticipation. These sorts of thoughts, common to all humanity, are banned from the tiny pages. Proper Moleskiners stick to a positive, optimistic outlook.

"I find mentioning things that no one else must know about, even if I have to erase it right after, to be particularly valuable. For example, last night I wrote, "Three square inches in the lower left centre of that 11" x 14" are rather excellent." But I wouldn't want this sort of flagrant boasting to get around. Keep it under your bonnet, eh? And even though I erased it right after, I wouldn't want my journal and all that positive erased info getting into the wrong hands."
One possible project that would make use of the daily-writing books is to continue the "erasure" - overwriting, un-writing - of  the words, sentences, thoughts in my old journals. It was the thinking, the mulling over (and the chain of thoughts, one leading from another) that was the valuable part of the process. The words, the sentences, can be released. Hopefully some of the tired old topics that constantly got rehashed will be released too.

1 comment:

Connie Rose said...

Ah, the right journal...for nearly 20 years I used one particular hardbound 8x8" graph paper journal that came with neat fabric-covered covers. Until the company went out of business. Now I'm in wirebound hardcover graph paper journals, 7x10" that I like alot.

I don't keep 'em beyond a couple years anymore...or maybe I'll keep what I have left, after a huge journal purge a few years ago, for the duration.

Let 'em go, I say. You can't take 'em with you!