Of journals, journeys, and soup du jour

When I saw today’s prompt word, “jour,” this immediately jumped to mind…

Dumb and Dumber was a very stupid movie, which might be why I like it so much. Maybe because Jeff Daniels upstaged Jim Carrey in it, too. Carrey was funny, but Daniels was a scream.

Of course, there were the words “sojourn” and “journey,” which mean pretty much the same thing, a trip of some sort. Journey is also a pretty good band from the ’70s. They did the song “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the theme for the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox…

Then there’s the term “journal,” which seems to be a popular name for newspapers, for example the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They used to be two separate newspapers, the Journal being the afternoon one. Another nearby newspaper is my hometown Marietta Daily Journal. When you think about it, that’s almost repetitive: a “journal” is a daily record, so the name of the paper is the Daily Daily Record. The name “journal” is also applied to publications such as The Journal of the American Medical Association. And, “journal” can be another name for an audit trail, a computer file that tracks the changes to a master file or a database.

But the most common use of the term is in reference to a personal journal. You might keep a personal journal to record your life, all its major events and your impressions of them, and to work out problems you’re having with it. You might also keep a writer’s journal and record ideas for characters, situations, settings, and plots, and a diet journal or fitness journal to record your progress with those. At work, you might keep a journal of a specific project, with all the correspondence, call logs, to-do items, and other minutiae. You could even think of a commonplace book as a form of a journal.

You might even do something like Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal, which he describes in the book At a Journal Workshop: Writing to Access the Power of the Unconscious and Evoke Creative Ability, which replaced his previous book of the same name. It is a very involved process, complete with a binder with a tabbed index and a set of nearly-indecipherable instructions that only make sense if you’ve taken one of Progoff’s Journal Workshops, not a cheap undertaking. But people who have taken it sing its praises.

Most people have moved their journaling online, or at the least use a computer file to record their thoughts and ideas. I use 750 Words, which I’ve spoken about a few times already on this blog. It’s based on the “morning pages” concept Julia Cameron described in The Artist’s Way. Her idea is to write three pages of early morning thoughts, longhand, as soon as you get out of bed or shortly thereafter. Well, the person who runs 750 Words decided that writing longhand was a drag, and it was just as easy to write three pages (i.e. 750 words) on the computer, and more convenient, because it doesn’t involve finding a notebook and pen and writing longhand. Since I have trouble writing with a pen since my dominant hand was the one affected by the stroke, typing, even one-handed, is much easier and faster. There are any number of good applications out there that will keep all your thoughts and ideas together in one place. Evernote is my favorite, but others use OneNote, SimpleNote, or space on a cloud somewhere that can hold all of their text files with all the associated ideas.

A new idea I’ve seen and been learning more about is the Bullet Journal. It’s intended as a manual, paper-and-pen solution to keeping your notes, to-do lists, monthly calendar and other items of interest. Designed primarily for creative types, it leaves a lot to the imagination of the person keeping the journal. It’s attracted almost a cult following, complete with groups on Facebook and Google+, and lots of YouTube videos with people discussing how they use it and showing off their particular journals. They get very involved with the type of notebook (Moleskine seems to be the most popular), what kind of pen they prefer, and what sort of symbols they use to denote to-do items, events, appointments and the like. Again, my lack of dexterity in my left hand when it comes to writing limits the usefulness of the Bullet Journal, but I can see where people would really get into it. I’ve been looking for a way to do the same thing using Evernote, but then I realize there really isn’t much I need to keep track of anymore.

Naturally, this was another entry in Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Check her blog for rules and how to join.