Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sketchbook-Inspired Digression, Part 2: My DIY Journal

A few recent journals. I have trunkloads of more spanning nearly 50
years of journal keeping.
As I mentioned in Part 1 about my sketchbook-inspired DIY planner, I’ve been a lifelong journal keeper. Although I’m now far less verbose than I used to be in my teens, 20s and 30s (I obsessed about everything back then – in writing!), and although I don’t necessarily write daily, I still manage to fill several pages a week with observations, ruminations, clippings, ephemera and whatever. Like my planner, my journals format and size have varied widely over the years. Most recently, Ive been using a Moleskine or my current favorite Leuchtturm notebook in an A5 (about 5 ½” x 8 ½”) format, and it takes me about six months to fill a volume.

In a separate calendar, I also keep a “log” to track things like heron sightings at Green Lake, the first blossoming trees or turned leaves, unusual weather and other natural events, books I read, movies we see, restaurants and new foods we try, places I’ve sketched at – things like that. This is a separate calendar from my weekly planner because its purpose is documentation, not scheduling. However, all my afore-mentioned annoyances with commercial calendars and planners – especially Saturday and Sunday mushed together into one space – still apply.
My DIY semi-annual journal/log book (biweekly log pages shown).

Around the time I started thinking about my DIY planner, I also started thinking about this “log” book, my journal and how I might simplify and consolidate both. I knew a years worth of my journal writing wouldnt fit into the available pages in a year-based planner. But since I fill a standard notebook in about six months, I started thinking that I could divide the year in half and consolidate the log and the journal. . . Voilá! My DIY semi-annual journal/log was born.

I made six months’ worth of weekly pages at the front of a plain (unruled) Leuchtturm notebook (as with the planner, next year I’m going to use a dot-grid-ruled Leuchtturm to eliminate measuring). I put two weeks on each spread, taking up only 13 page spreads. Those pages are now the log.

Leuchtturm journal pages are pre-numbered.
All the remaining notebook pages are for freeform journal writing. An added benefit of the Leuchtturm notebook is that the pages are numbered (a feature I’ve never taken advantage of before). If I log an event that I’ve expanded on further in my written journal, I can easily note the page number in the log for reference. Formally indexing my journal has never been something I’ve felt compelled to do, but the Leuchtturm’s pre-numbered pages enable the log to serve as sort of a loose index of the journal – with hardly any additional work. Now that appeals to my inner journal-keeping geek!

While I can’t consolidate my planner, log and journal all in one volume, I’ve gone from four notebooks and calendars to two. And the best part is that they both serve all my needs exactly the way I want them to.

Updated 6/14/16: I made some minor tweaks to my journal/log book to give more space to each day in the log. I found that I was writing more brief "log" notes there rather than lengthy entries in the freeform pages. The balance seems to be working out just right for the six-month period. I just made up a new one for July - December in a Rhodia notebook, which has fewer pages than Leuchtturm. I'm going to have some pages leftover in the current book, though, so I think the fewer pages will come out about right.

My weekly log in a blank Rhodia notebook.

In case you're curious about types of things I log that aren't tied to specific dates, here are examples -- books I've read and inks in my fountain pens:

Book log

Ink log

What a geek I am!

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