Using a Composition Book as a Journal

Composition books keep me sane. I cannot live without composition books. If there are no composition books in Finland, well, I know they have paper, so I’ll work something out. I wouldn’t actually due without a composition book. But I have a fetishistic passion for composition books.

I use composition books for a lot of things, one of which is keeping a daily journal. I have a format that I put together to facilitate this, and insure that I update it. It’s a set of writing prompts, really. Every morning I open my book, and start writing this format on the next blank line. I spend a little time thinking about it, and writing some more detailed notes following this format block. I don’t always fill in the blanks right away, but do it throughout the day, or at the end of the day before bed.

Using a Composition Book as a Journal

My journal block looks like this:

Today’s date: This is self-explanatory. Writing it down in the morning helps me remember.

The day of the week, and any holidays or events: Monday, Easter, Katie’s birthday, They Might Be Giants concert, those sorts of things. There’s always at least one thing on this line, ending in Y.

Mood: In the morning, I sit and think about this. I think about it again at lunch. I think about it a final time at bedtime, and that’s usually when I write down the truth. It changes throughout the day, and I might write something about that, but in this space, I put down the overall, prevailing mood of the day.

Working on: This is part reminder, part wishful thinking. It’s more of a statement of intent. I write this down in the morning to try to get focused. I try to keep it s short as possible, naming a project or two, rather than allowing it to turn into a laundry list.

Reading: Usually the book I’m in the middle or, of the book I want to dive into next. This reminds me that oh, yeah, I need to allow myself some time to read, because it’s important to me and books rarely cry out and demand my attention.

Watching: This might be something I need to watch for research, a movie I’ve borrow from the library that I need to watch before it has to be returned, or something on television that day that I don’t want to miss.

Listening: Sometimes this is a statement of intent, to set the mood for whatever I’m working on. Sometimes this gets filled in at the end of the day, reflecting my whim.

Cooking: Largely a remind of what I plan to cook for dinner. Looking backward, documentation of what we’ve had recently, so I can plan meals.

Anticipating: A lot of this is about the present or the recent past. I try to wind things up looking forward to the future, something I’m excited about. If the day sucked, this gives me something to hold on to.

Grateful for: I always wind things up being thankful for something. It helps to keep things in perspective. If the day what great, I need to acknowledge who or what or why it was great. If it sucked, well, there’s still something, somewhere, that I should not be taking for granted.


One thought on “Using a Composition Book as a Journal

  1. Thanks for detailing this. I’m a recent convert to using Composition books as notebooks. I found your site by searching for CB hacks. I had previously tried the [Bullet Journal]( approach, but this is mostly geared toward appointments and task lists, and I generally prefer electronic tools for those activities. I find your list is more suitable for reflection and archiving my thoughts.

    I shall now have to read through more of your weblog. I would love to visit Finland some day. Such a hardy people. I have a copy of a Finnish puukko knife, I’d like to one day make my own version of that and a kupka cup to use in bushcrafting. Thanks!

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