Who among us has not trembled in fear of marring the first beautiful blank pages of brand-new journal? Whilst unblemished with our own thoughts and scribbles, the page holds infinite possibility. The instant we touch pen to paper, that possibility becomes irreparably limited. But, you did not buy or make that journal to stare at the blank pages! To let it languish in a drawer awaiting the day when that truly inspired thought comes into being! No. It is meant to be used, and used it shall be.
Perhaps you fear your handwriting is not good enough to be inked across the page irrevocably. Or maybe you fear that the thoughts you carry will not make it to the page in the perfect order, and thus must be scratched out and rewritten, thus blemishing the beautiful page with mistakes. Perhaps you want your first page, or indeed every page, to look like this:
Well guess what. That document first looked like this:
If you need more reassurance that you’re in good, scratched out company, check out Fuck Yeah, Manuscripts! Don’t think that your bad handwriting gets you off the hook either. The only person who needs to be able to read it is you. Check out Sylvia Plath’s Draft of “Sheep in Fog” or an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s handwritten manuscript of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Right, now that we’ve established that your handwriting and mistakes are not really obstacles to worry about, lets look at how to break into that endless void of possibility that is the blank page.
What is the purpose of your journal?
A journal can have many uses including but not limited to:
- A daily record of how you spend your days
- Thoughts about your personal life that you feel uncomfortable sharing with others
- recording errant thoughts that have no categorization
- recording overheard snipits of conversation
- writing fiction or poetry
- all of the above
Knowing the purpose of your journal can help in breaking it in. If you’re not sure how to begin, try finishing the phrase “The purpose of this journal is…”
The beauty of a journal without lines is that you are not confined to writing in those lines.
Some ideas might be:
- Paste (literally – find that glue stick) a newspaper article that you found interesting, terrifying, hilarious, or full of spelling and grammatical errors. Jot down under it, over it, across it, or on the next page why you felt like pasting it in.
- If you are artistically inclined, sketch that trumpet player playing on the street, and then jot down what you thought of his playing.
Write super-duper big
Sometimes, I just skip the first page all together, and start on the second page. Sometimes, I jump right in. There are some journals for which I’ve made a title page that names that journal and states it’s purpose. Others have no introduction but the writing itself.
When all else fails, write the date at the top of the page to at least get some ink onto that blank nothingness, and go from there.