SydneyBlu's Guide to Journaling

[Image Description: The words "SydneyBlu's Guide to Journaling" surrounded by various journaling-related items like tape, notebooks, markers, polaroids, pencils and paperclips in pink, yellow and black.]

Art & Writing By SydneyBlu Garcia-Yao

I've always had a kind of obsession with documenting my life. It scares me that one day, I'll forget. Since I was five, I've had some form of journal on and off as a record of my life. A lot of times I question whether I'll even want to go back and read all the little details of what I used to do, but something keeps me going back to it.

I still journal because there's a relaxing aspect of it, and it lets me validate my thoughts. I normally journal for two or three months writing page after page before I go to bed and then pause for a while before rediscovering journaling in a new way. Throughout my life, these are they ways I've tried to journal:

1. Writing in a Journal

[Image Description: A large notebook laid flat so both pages are showing with the words obscured by neon blue lines for privacy reasons.]

I start my journal entries off by rambling; most is about my day and what I've done - that type of stuff. Although sometimes I write about book/movie/TV characters and how I feel like they relate to the real world to mix it up. I often feel that just writing my thoughts feels very raw and authentic, butI often cringe over what I've written in the past.

2. Journaling through Poetry
[Image Description: A single sheet of poetry with the words obscured by neon blue because the author is shy.]

This started when I really wanted to write a rambly poem walking through a city (although I was never able to write one I really liked) but later became one of my favorite types of journaling! There's a different type of feel to this type of writing- it feels, well, poetic!

My biggest problem is that when I write poetry, I tend to dissect things too much, which can make its beauty fade. I recommend considering this style more of a journal than a poem; when I first started, I would try to go through tens of pages to look for anything worth reading, but it was too all over the place to really be of any use. I consider writing poetry an entirely different type of recording yourself.

3. Journaling through doodles

[Image description: A polaroid of the author (with her face obscured by neon blue marks) with various doodles questioning what the paper cones are in the photo. The page is titled, "Fooling Around May 2019."]

(Unfortunately, I am no longer in possession of these doodle journals, but the above doodles are an examples of that style)

Originally inspired by Amelia's old art journal post, I bought a notebook without any lines with the thinking that I was going to draw in it. This didn't pan out as the paper was too thin, so I wasn't able to paint or use markers. Instead, I journaled using pen and little blobs of text next to it almost as a caption. I think the important thing for this is to not try to make all the doodles look too pretty because with the simple drawings I had, it was taking me 30 minutes to do a night. Of course, it’s all up to you!

4. Scrapbooking
[Image Description: A two-page spread titled "Philly 10.4.19" with the text blurred out. There are a few stickers of penguins interspersed through large chunks of colored text. On the top left is a photo of a train warped through taking the photo at an angle and on the bottom right is a photo of a highway taken behind a gate and fence.]

When I got a polaroid camera as a birthday present, I ended up with 50-some photos and nothing to do with them. I ended up sticking them in a notebook (also with pages that were too thin for paint) and doodling around them with some explanations of what was going on. Later I tried printing out photos of drawings, songs, etc. that I liked and writing about them! I tend to do this pretty consistently, but only like once a month or so.

[Image Description: A scrapbook page of the webtoon (online comic) Unordinary by uru-chan featuring one of the characters, Seraphina, who is depicted with long, hot pink hair tied up with the quotes, "The first time I ever decided to reward myself was for something imperfect," "I have to live with myself," and "Don't make me repeat myself..I work so hard every single day! You think you can just waltz in and humiliate me like this?"] 

5. Annotating Poetry Books

[Image Description: The poem Threshold by Ocean Vuong with many underlines and illegible notes on the sides.]

I think annotating poetry is a great way to record how I think at that time. What I do is take a poetry book I have (works better with poems with a lot of space between lines or in general, less with prose poems or other styles with a lot of text close together) and write all my thoughts about it and underline lines I really like. I think that the connections my brain makes shows how I feel that day so I try to switch up the colors of pen I use to make it more clear how many times I come back to the same poem!

Hopefully these different types of journaling inspired you to write something! Remember not to feel any pressure writing; journals are for raw emotion!

For more Risen posts on journaling, click any of the following links: