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Journaling serves as outlet for not solely organization, but also creativity

Photo courtesy of Evelyn Bond
Evelyn Bond (’22) organizes her AP Biology notes using colorful subheadings and diagrams. From notetaking to bullet journalling, putting a pen on paper comes in a variety of forms and each serves different purposes.

Converting thoughts into written words is hardly novel, yet the concept of journaling has gained popularity throughout the last year of lockdowns. With more opportunities to explore artistic variations of journaling, different forms of the common practice – note-taking, freewriting, bullet journaling emerged.

English Teacher Eve Ellis said her interest in journaling began as a method of documenting as well as processing daily life and current events in lockdown.

“Writing down even just what’s happening, even if you’re like, ‘This is not deep,’ can give you a sense of control, maybe at a time where you feel like there’s not a lot of control,” she said.

Similarly, Valentine Cole (’22) said she began journaling for the first time at the beginning of lockdown to seek solace after being advised to do so by one of her teachers. 

“At the beginning of lockdown, there was so much confusion and sort of like apprehension about everything that my journaling sort of reflects that,” she said. “It reflects the sort of mental state that everyone went through at the beginning of lockdown.”

Cole said reflecting on the unique experience of isolation through journaling positively affected her mental health, while also being an enjoyable recreational activity. She said she finds herself feeling calmer because journaling helps to put your thoughts down on paper and “out of your head.”

Although she began to journal more about daily life in March 2020, Ellis said she has always made use of journaling for organizational purposes and hence regularly forms to-do lists to prioritize different tasks.

“It actually helps me set my intention for how my day and my week are going to unfold,” she said. “Looking at lists, crossing things off, kind of blocking out my time, it really helps me to strategize.”

Moreover, Tanvi Rao (’22) said she utilizes journaling to provide structure and enhance organization, specifically with note-taking and homework to-do lists. 

“I just open a page and then it’s sort of like a brain dump, and I just list everything that I have,” she said. 

She said this method of journaling allows her to record and sequence work and has assisted her academically when keeping track of assignments and assessments, particularly throughout distance learning.

It’s really just something fun to do that takes the sort of need for perfection and having everything really neat in my life and puts it on something that isn’t necessarily academic.

— Valentine Cole ('22)

“Over lockdown, everyone was able to reflect on what works best for them,” she said. “I was able to realize that in order to reduce stress, I just need to see a list of everything that I need to accomplish.”

As opposed to traditional note-taking, bullet journaling is an alternative form of journaling that typically involves additional creativity and visual components. Bullet journaling has gained traction in the last couple of years, following its creation in 2013 when Ryder Carroll formed the company Bullet Journal. Designed for visual scheduling and brainstorming, bullet journaling can allow for more creativity.

As it rose to popularity, Cole said she became inspired to use bullet journaling as a creative outlet when her parents bought her a journal.

“It’s really just something fun to do that takes the sort of need for perfection and having everything really neat in my life and puts it on something that isn’t necessarily academic,” she said.

Moreover, through the COVID-19 pandemic, Cole said the additional effort bullet journaling requires serves as a distraction from boredom and unnecessary time spent on technology.

“It can take a lot of time,” she said. “You can really dedicate yourself to journaling. I wouldn’t even have to think about being on my phone or on my computer.”

As a result of the commitment required for bullet journaling, Cole said this alternative is significantly more rewarding than other types of notetaking.

“There’s more to be proud of in a bullet journal because it does take a lot more time,” she said. “You put a bit more pride to it. It’s not something that you can really do spur of the moment.”

Regardless of the form journaling adopts, Ellis said she has always enjoyed processing her thoughts on paper.

“From when I was little and I was creating these insane diaries to now, is that for me, the pen is a magic conduit to unlock creativity,” she said. “There’s nothing like pen and paper.”

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About the Contributor
Clara Martinez, Editor-in-Chief
Clara Martinez (’24) is the Editor-in-Chief for The Standard. She began journalism as an editor of the Middle School newspaper The Scroll and joined The Standard in Grade 9. Martinez is drawn to investigative news stories and profiles, although she does enjoy producing the occasional broadcast or photo gallery. In or out of the newsroom, she can always be found with a pocket-sized notebook and pen in hand.

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