Making a Journal Your Own

I’m fickle with my journals. 
I’ll buy them, write in them for a day or two, and then buy a new notebook that has a nicer cover, better pages, a spine that falls open more easily. Once I’ve got three or four half-written in journals around the house, I’ll finally settle down into making one of them more approachable. 
Blank pages are terrifying. So are slick, mass produced covers. 
My best-used journal to date is one I accidentally spilled diet coke on. The bottom of most of the pages have a light brown shadow cascading across. Once the pages had that small stain, they weren’t as terrifying. I wrote in that journal for all of my years taking classes at UAF, going to readings, discussions with friends about books we’d read,  and that stained journal became my common-place book for my graduate studies. 
So making your journal less pristine helps. But if you aren’t willing to go that route, you might also try giving your journal a new cover. 
This is a cover I made for my new journal this weekend. Knowing that it won’t be mistaken for someone else’s, that there isn’t another one like it anywhere, gives the journal a wonderful feeling of discovery. The kind that you feel as a kid when you find a secret hiding place. I want to write in it, and I’m not afraid of marking on the pages. Because let’s face it – this journal is totally my friend now. 
I started out with a journal I bought for $10 at Target. This is what the cover looked like. I loved the nice binding on the side, like an old library-edition book. 
Also of super-importance: the pages were lined, and not too busy with extraneous illustrations taking up the corners. I also liked that the spine fell open easily. It makes writing in cars, and anytime you have the journal propped on your lap, much easier. 
I had picked up two free books months ago at the Friends of the Library used bookstore. There’s this little box right by the door, and usually it’s just full of AAA Road Maps and tiny New Testaments. But on that day there were these awesome books. 

I dug these out of my “someday I’ll make an awesome craft out of this” bin, and read through the pages with my Exacto blade ready to cut the illustrations free.

Once I’d decided on the ones I liked, and on their placement on the cover, I trimmed their edges to match the side-binding and glued them down with purple glue. Then I covered the pages with clear packaging tape, to protect them from wear and tear. 
And hooray! New journal. One that I’m not afraid to write in. 
Plus, these images from two different books are beginning to speak to each other.  I’m starting to think up a story about this shady guy, 
what the rats are saying to each other, 
and what message the riders bring. 

2 thoughts on “Making a Journal Your Own

  1. I love this idea! I've always enjoyed looking at journals, but never considered buying them because I knew I would never write in them. Perhaps it really is about the daunting blank pages and too-clean look. Thanks for sharing your idea, Jenni. And you should definitely write a short story about your journal cover 🙂

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