Reasons to keep a personal journal or sketchbook

Originally published at:


Every year, I say to myself, I say “dr. Mindysan, you’re going to keep a journal of some sort and write regularly this year.” And then life happens… Life keeps happening and I never get around to regularly keeping a journal. I have a hard time starting new habits like that.

My daughter, on the other hand, draws daily, both in sketchbooks and digitally with a drawing pad. I should have been doing that with writing when I was her age to get into the habit…

This is a lovely article though, so thanks for sharing @beschizza!


and - they’re subject to discovery!


I used to take my notes on my iPad. Last year I decided to work on my penmanship, got a nice-but-inexpensive Lamy pen, and discovered Rhodia notebooks - the paper is awesome and perfect for fountain pens.

Not as convenient as the iPad maybe, but much more satisfying somehow.


Don’t leave home without it!


Little black diary with notes scrawled in it, a calendar app, a notes app, a small notebook bulging with extra papers and photos and flyers, an A6 sketchbook.
That’s just my handbag…
Otherwise I forget the joke, thought, image, what-have-you that leads to my next piece or work, be it personal or professional.
Then there is the 10 year A4 sketchbook archive, the laptop, the various portfolios…
I like to be able to browse through it all from time to time, see where I’ve come from, where I thought I was going at the time. But a traditional daily diary? Nah.


Also easy to acquire and dispose of in undiscoverable ways!


Back in the day, I used cheap 200 page, 5 subject student notebooks. Now I use TiddlyWikis, but maybe I should go back to paper because browsers keep tightening security.

Sometimes it’s fun to pull them out and look at what I thinking about back then. Sometimes not.


I like the sketchbook that James Gurney recomends, the Pentalic watercolor sketchbook… Cheaper than the equivalent moleskin, but same design and nice thick paper for water media.


You’re listening to Donnie’s lawyers, aren’t you? :grinning:

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
(Added Pub. L. 107–204, title VIII, § 802(a), July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 800.)


If you have a Daiso near you there are lots of good inexpensive choices for notebooks for whatever use you want.


It seems to me the danger is that over the course of the exercise, one can start to see patterns and narratives emerge. And that can be useful if one’s life lacks stability and direction – but sometimes a series of random events is exactly that, and looking for something that just isn’t there can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Jason Bourne: What is GREENLEAF? Who runs it?

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I decided to keep a journal after listening to Jerry Pournelle talk about his life logs. He kept track of the daily weather, phone calls and meetings, food he ate, conversations he had, ideas that popped into his head, projects that were underway, how he felt, etc…

This was going to be a lifelong project, so I bought some notebooks. I wanted a really nice notebook. Then I bought some really great pens. I wanted to see if I liked writing with space pens, or gel ink, or pencil, or fountain pen. Of course different paper is more or less suited to certain types of pens so I had to do a lot of experimenting.

Then I thought how cool it would be if my book was digital and I could paste images and audio and also search it. So I bought a couple of iPads and an Apple Pencil.

Then I thought that I don’t want this trapped in Apple’s walled garden, so now I’m building an application that I can run in the cloud. I want to get this right, so I’m planning it carefully. I’m going to need some notebooks and pens to work on the design of this thing, so I’m back to ordering pads and pens again.


I get my notebooks at the thrift, & write when I feel like it. I agree, it’s a good outlet, a good way to remember, & I can code any activities I don’t want others to pick up on later.

I have a few letters written by my mother before she died, & it’s a visceral experience to see her handwriting, completely different from a typed or printed page.

Writing by hand makes one more precise, less prolix, a different thought process.


Keep us up on this… maybe a posting here via the mods if you maker something great?

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I’d be all for a post (or series of posts) that helped me organize ideas in notebooks or a better system of archiving. (Talking hand-written, not electronic. I’ve got Evernote for that.)

I used to keep a journal. Sometimes I’d go back and read what I wrote and my reaction was basically, “Who is this detestable moron?”


There’s an interesting dicsussion here:

Specifically, you might be interested in Bullet Journaling.

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