Journaling -- I've never been good at it. I've kept a journal, am technically keeping one now, in fact. I can even be regular about it, but that's a word I use advisedly, the way old duffs are happiest when they are "regular".
I hopped on The Artist's Way bandwagon some years back, figuring if it was good enough for Martin Scorsese ("a valuable tool", he claims, right there on the back cover) it ought to be good enough for me. Guru Julia Cameron makes "morning pages" the cornerstone of her program -- three pages of longhand writing, first thing after you wake up. There's considerably more to her program, but the morning pages are non-negotiable.
Three pages in longhand are no problem for me, but I can assure you they'd be a problem for any reader foolish enough to take a peek -- a reader like, say, one of my daughters, when the box of spiral-bound notebooks is discovered a week or two after the funeral. "You know, I always wondered if Dad wasn't a little bitter about something, but that's not it at all: he was just an incorrigible whiner!" In my defense, Cameron advocates this sort of emotional enema. The thinking is if you get it out of your system first thing in the morning, you'll be more receptive to possibility the rest of the day. And it kinda sorta works, just not enough for me to add my impramatur to the back of the book (I try to keep an open mind, but I'm sorry: the New Age-speak really sticks in my craw. Dorothea Brande's book is easier medicine for hopeful skeptics like me).
So I've given up my morning whine, because I cringe at the thought of it becoming the public record. I think a glossier, if less cathartic, approach is to be found in Brian Eno's journal. It's also a little easier to maintain, because if all you've got to say is a sentence or two, you say it and you're done. He is consistently conscientious about considering alternatives, a worthy habit for anyone to develop, so that is the tack I'm attempting.
Eno's perspective on things is invariably unique and bracing, qualities you still won't find in abundance in my journals. I'd say my enterprise isn't so much the art of journaling as it is the dross of journaling. I've used spiral-bound notebooks in this effort, also hardcover unlined sketchbooks (my preference). My father (a no-journal sort of person) once passed along a leather-bound journal he received as a gift. I wrote in it for a bit, then finally tore off and discarded the cover because its hoity-toity "Chin up, good fellow!" demeanor was getting in the way of my words.
Obviously I'm not a Moleskines kinda guy. I understand their appeal -- used by Picasso, Van Gogh, Chatwin, Hemingway!! It may be these giants had their self-indulgent moleskine moments, but did their entries ever include: "Can't believe it: ankle still hurts! Bleah." I don't want to write that stuff in weenie leather-covered notebook that cost me $30. C'mon -- a thirty-dollar notebook!? Man, that better have cogito ergo sum on every freakin' page!
Or, failing that, this:
Now that is putting a Moleskine to good use! Link via Drawn!