Why I’ll Always Have a Paper Journal (And You Should, Too!) Erin Mallory Long

If you told me as a kid that I’d be discouraging someone from emulating Doogie Hoswer, I’d be shocked. I know it seems cool to be like Doogie Howser and have a journal you type on your computer every night on a really blue screen but I think we can’t let the magic of a paper journal/notebook/diary/log/whatever to go to waste. We have to keep our paper journals, you guys! I don’t even know if this is something I need to tell you but I’m going to anyway because I feel really strongly about it, okay?

I’ve had a Xanga, a livejournal, I currently have a tumblr, etc, I’m all about the Internet and everything, but there is something special about a paper journal. First, there are SO many options of journals out there. I love a good Moleskine, but I also use just regular notebooks with a funny cover on them. I would even be up for a Bridget Jones style DIARY! Just any situation where I’m putting pen (or pencil) to paper as my notebook is the situation I want to be in.

Some of my favorite characters (including the aforementioned Doogie Howser) LOVE journals!

Hannah Horvath of Girls, like me, only refers to hers as a notebook:

“Okay I don’t wanna split hairs here, but it’s not a journal, it’s a notebook. It’s notes for a book.”

In Wet Hot American Summer, Andy, doesn’t even know what he’s writing in, just that he does it every day:

Lindsay: What ‘cha doing?
Andy: Writing in my gournal. I write my thoughts in it every day.
Lindsay: Oh, you mean a journal?
Andy: Yeah, whatever. I guess I’m not all smart like you.

And my soul mate Lisa Simpson uses the term log for hers:

“Dear Log: This will be my last entry. For you were a journal of my hopes and dreams, and now I have none.”

Okay, Lisa is very sad here but you can ALSO be happy writing in your log!

After you pick out your journal it’s also fun to have a little ritual to go along with it. I always write the date I bought the notebook and then the date I started using it (if those are different). Someone didn’t believe me that I always write in some variation on “One Alf POG” in my Moleskines in the reward section and I took a picture of the ones I had handy.

I used to try to start one and finish it within a year but now I have so many notebooks going at once that that task would be impossible. I carry one in my purse, I have one for work, for each job and I always have the main one that I put everything in.

When I was younger I definitely used it more as a diary and would spill my guts out to this piece of paper. Then it morphed into doodles if I was bored (trust me, I’m no artist) and little ideas for things. I’ve written short stories in notebooks, ideas for posts on this very site and even just kept track of what movies I’ve seen. It’s a whole section of my life that no one can comment on or “like” or “favorite” or really, butt in on. And I love that and really think that’s very important especially when you’re growing up.

You know how there are no bad ideas in brainstorming? Well, there are no bad ideas in journal writing either. That’s the best part of it. This is a place where your friends can’t pipe in on your thoughts or feelings and it’s just you. You are in charge of your domain and as long as no one steals your journal you are all set to keep it private. (Another reason to not spill your guys online is because you could think it’s anonymous and then a situation like Awkward. happens. And then everyone knows you keep this crazy detailed online diary and it’s super, well, awkward.)

Also, journals are great because it’s a little snapshot of your life from that time. Oh, that’s when I read that book? I saw that movie in 2007? Weird. It’s embarrassing and awesome and so good for reflection and other things you need to do sometimes when you’re older or through a rough patch.

But just watch out because sometimes journals aren’t meant to be re-read just yet.

If you want suggestions of where to get journals from I’m always coveting a ton so just ask.

(Main image my own, Girls gif via, Wet Hot American Summer image via, The Simpsons image screengrabbed from my DVD, Tavi Gevinson tweet via her twitter)

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  1. This is what I recently started doing. I’m trying to become less dependent on technology. Every morning (when I wake up in time) I keep the tv, computer, and phone off (or silent) and do some quiet journaling. It’s a great way to get the day started. Also, there are some things that would be diary-worthy if I was 8 years old. I don’t need to post that stuff on Facebook or whatever. Nice to have somewhere to hash out all that adult stuff, privately.

  2. I love notebooks, and reading them from years ago and even from when I was a little kid. I have SO many and bring them on my travels … can’t wait to read them when I’m old and give them to my (possible-hypothetical-maybe-we’ll-see) children!!

  3. I love buying notebooks, and journals. It makes me feel like I’m a busy person.
    And I start using one so many times, then get bored of the design and start using another one, some of my journals are still blank. I give em to my mum, she really uses them.
    I have like 3 agendas, 2 notebooks and 1 journal. I take em all to college.

  4. I feel the same way – I have a journal I keep in my purse, one I keep in my classroom (which is more of classroom stuff then anything else) and one I keep in my room. I have roughly 3 boxes of journals I’ve filled (or half-filled) over the years – I started keeping journals at 6, and I’m in my mid 20s. now.
    I definitely have a thing for buying cute notebooks/journals. I have stacks of them! lol

  5. I am the exact same way… enough people noticed that I got like 6 for chirstmas last year, and while I am currently filling up five different ones, since cute notebooks are my weakness I have about 25 stockpiled up to use.

  6. (and then maybe I will learn to write correctly)

  7. You really should post a list of notebooks and the link to the stores, so I can buy every single one feel the moneyshame later.

  8. I have so many journals it’s getting ridiculous. If I’m out and about and I see a cool journal that I have to have, I’ll get it. I’m running out of places to put all my journals. I wish I would have kept them when I was younger. I have nothing really to look back on. But at least I have them now :D

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