Let's get started with: your new journal~~

(Today's MM is at the bottom of the post as well.) My beloved journal Derple is coming to a close .

derple small

Cagney & Lacey on the front, and an awesome 60's illustration on the back. 

derple3 edit

A tongue in cheek first page & title....
I have been journalling for as long as I can remember, and I have a pretty decent way of getting things started. If you're a journalling pro, or new to the art & just need a little help getting started, this post is for you!

STEP 1: Choosing the right journal for you. 

I am totally superstitious about this entire process. It is my sincere belief that you do not choose the journal, the journal chooses you. If you don't want to go woo-woo with me, here are a few things you should think about when purchasing a book to write in:

  • What are you looking for in your journal?

If you are looking for a place to organize your thoughts and ideas, a journal with lines might be the right choice for you. If you're not looking to keep a book that's strictly for writing, a journal with no lines may be better. If you're super indecisive like me, you can always get one with both!

Sometimes anxiety stems from feeling like you have to be creative from scratch. Staring at a blank page can be insanely daunting, so some journals with fun print on the insides as -well- as the outsides can ease the fear of not knowing what you want to do. Other books (like Listography & 642 Things to Write About) are filled with prompts. They can either be your companion journal, or just *be* your journal. Either way, super dandy if you go brain-blank a lot!

  • Is size an issue? Are you going to want to keep it with you all the time, or maybe just at home?

I always have mine with me, so it's essential that it fit in my purse/bag.

Three journals ago, I bought a book from Leuchtturm and I can't say enough great things about it. It came with a nice pocket in the back, the pages were numbered, and had dots on them. (Perfect in-between from lines & no lines, if you ask me!) (For the record, no one paid me to say this...Honestly though, it was probably the best journal I've ever owned. Totally ROCK. SOLID.)


Unfortunately you can't see the dots very well... 

STEP 2: Figuring out what you want out of a journalling experience. 

Again, I'm totally woo-woo with this kind of thing. My friend Bridget told me that each journal should be a little different or it's bad luck; so I've taken to following that rule. If you however, find a book that you love, and you just keep filling up the same kind of journal, there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT AT ALL. Figure out what's comfortable for you, and do it! All of the answers you have to these questions are totally, 100% legitimate. (Meaning there's no wrong answer.) I'm asking them purely from my past experiences, not to try and dictate how you're going to run your show.

  • Do you want to be super candid and personal about your life?

When I was younger, I noticed that my parents would read my journals a lot, so I developed a secret code (that I still use!) so I could talk about things that were more personal without the fear of someone reading what I had written without my permission. You don't need to do something that drastic, but whether or not you intend to spill all your guts out would be something to consider if you plan on toting your journal around with you everywhere. If you accidentally left it somewhere and someone read it, would that be totally the most embarrassing thing ever? If so, maybe consider keeping your journal at home instead.

  • Do you have any particular thing you want to document?

Or are you maybe just wanting to write about your day? Everyone journals differently. Thinking about this stuff ahead of time can sometimes be helpful. I personally find it's best to let a specific journal shape out throughout the course of its time with me, rather than be decisive about it, but you never know!

There are a few things I do with each journal, like a "rules" page.


This is from the Barry Gibb Journal, which I had from 2011-2012.

(The speech bubble ended up saying: "For Chrissake Hannah I sing, you heard me sing!")


This is from Derple. The numbers are all "3" so no rule takes precedence. 

But the last rule is always silly!

These are just things *I* like to do when I start a journal. I rarely stick to the rules I set out, but that's ok.

The only things you should do to start a journal are things that make it a more comfortable space for you to express yourself, however you see fit.

I also like to make a lot of print collages in my journals, because I really love to cut & paste. (Sans glue, which gives me a goddamn heart attack.)


My new journal is called the Po' Boy Journal, because my housemate gave it to me for free. 

  1. Gather some pictures you want to cut up.
  2. I like to use a silver sharpie, but any color of sharpie is good if you just want to decorate with a pen over your collage. They do tend to smudge over time, if you're thinking about drawing on the front of your book.
  3. This is optional, it's essentially more pictures I thought I wanted to cut up. I call the bric-a-brac that ends up in your journal "fixens". So, these are some leftover fixens from my previous two journals.
  4. Thin scotch tape is helpful to tape certain pieces of your collage together before you decide to tape/glue the entire thing to the page. That way, if you have certain pieces you like together, but aren't sure how they'll fit with the whole collage, it's easy to keep them together without committing to the page fully.
  5. The thicker tape is for when you're finished. I think it's helpful for covers especially, just because it keeps stray pieces from ripping off. My housemate is a big proponent of mod-podge, but if you're a glue-phobe like me, packing tape is a great way to get similar results.
  6. Scissors are kind of...obvious, right?
  7. Same with your book that you want to collage.


Here's the end result. Click for full size! 

STEP 3: F*ck the rules! 

No one should decide how your journal should look, what it should be, and how you should keep it EXCEPT YOU.

I had a friend in high school say that every time she was having a bad day, she would write about it, then burn the pages. Some people I know write prose/poetry/draw/etc. in their books, while I prefer to keep mine strictly about my personal goings on. (I keep a few less formal notebooks for other things...) I also don't like having perforated pages so I'm not tempted to rip them out later. It's a way for me to remember my life, and a way to hold myself accountable for how I feel.

You may decide that you want to do a million different things in one journal, or have a million different journals that all have different purposes.


Please don't compare yourself to my style, or your favorite celebrity/artist/musician's style of journalling.

You are your own unique person, with your own unique life paradigm.

Do what feels good to you!

Document it however you'd like!

Here are a few final pages from Derple, maybe I'll post a few more of Po' Boy once I get started with it. I'm pretty sure it'll be my 25th journal. (Yikes~!)

derple5 derple6 derple7

Also, here are some scanned pages from a few of my previous journals. (Notably Barry Gibb [2011-2012], Lined No Lines [2011], and Big Ass [2009-2010].)

If you start a journal, and feel comfortable sending me some pages, I'd be happy to post them! (If not, that's ok too ♥.)

How about you guys: do you journal? How long have you been journalling/how many do you have so far? Do you have any favorite published journals by artists/musicians/whomever that you love?

Happy documenting~!



Today's MM is by Roger Wilkerson. (I mentioned his tumblr in a WWP a few weeks ago.) I was going to theme a post after fall jazz, but he made such a perfect mix already, that I couldn't help reposting it.

Take a listen to Roger Wilkerson's Autumn Mix!