Starting a new hobby often means spending the better part of your paycheck on equipment that ends up gathering dust in your condo before you inevitably give it away or throw it out. While the thought of adding another hockey stick or pair of knitting needles to the mess already occupying your extra space can break anyone out in a cold sweat, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo hobbying entirely. In fact, there’s one hobby that requires almost no equipment, can be done anywhere, and is almost entirely without cost: journaling. Journaling is a great way to express your creativity and get in touch with some of those feelings you have a hard time speaking aloud.
Better yet, journaling is good for your brain itself; researchers at the University of California found that the brain’s ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, an area associated with memory storage, lit up while journaling about non-emotionally charged experiences, indicating that this activity may be beneficial for your brain. This could even mean that journaling can keep you more cognitively fit as you age. If you want to create a journal but aren’t thrilled with the lackluster notebooks at your local stationery store, try these easy tips for creating a pretty and personal journal of your own.
Sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover. Creating a notebook that speaks to your specific style starts on the outside, so you’re going to need some time to think about how you’ll decorate an item as precious as your journal. If you’re handy with an X-Acto knife and some Mod Podge, decoupage can be a fun way to liven up the cover of your journal; start by cutting out images from magazines you have on hand, apply them to your journal as you see fit, and add a coat of Mod Podge to seal them permanently. If you’re not into the collage idea, washi tape can help you spruce up that notebook in no time. This paper tape is great for making patterns or designs, and, better yet, is removable if you find yourself rethinking your design down the line. Want something incredibly fast and easy to decorate with? Contact paper will offer the solution you seek. This self-adhesive paper comes in countless designs and can turn that blah notebook into something beautiful in an instant.
One of the hardest parts of journaling is finding a pen. In an increasingly digital age, we’re less likely than ever to have a pen handy when we need it. If you want to create a journal for yourself, make sure you add a pen loop so that you can jot down your thoughts when inspiration strikes. All you’ll need is a small piece of leather and some hot glue to make one; glue two edges of the leather to the inside cover of your notebook, leaving room for a pen, allow to dry, and voilà!
While most notebooks come with standard white, lined pages, you can get a little more creative when you’re making your own journal. Insert some fun paper, like pressed flower paper, origami paper, or even graph paper, and tape it in for future use. This will make your notebook a multipurpose journal that works as well for painting as it does for creating a spreadsheet.
The exterior of your notebook isn’t the only place you can get creative. On the inside cover of your notebook, add some drawings, decoupage, or some contact paper to further personalize your journal. If you’re prone to writer’s block, add some images or words that inspire you to the inside and you might just find yourself feeling creative once again.
One of the biggest differences between a typical notebook and a journal is how private the latter is. Before you start writing down your deepest, darkest secrets, add a layer of protection to your book to keep those thoughts private. If your notebook has wooden or plastic covers, you can glue in mini key lock to keep your journal private. If you’re working with a traditional cardboard-backed notebook, try gluing a piece of ribbon to the interior of the front and back covers and tying the two in a bow when you want to keep your book closed.
Notebooks are a dime a dozen, but a personalized journal can be a font of inspiration for the user, giving them ample opportunity to open up, express their creativity, and get in touch with some of those feelings that have burdened them. Before you shell out your hard-earned money on another notebook, consider making yourself a journal to unburden yourself, store notes for creative ideas that you might otherwise forget, and keep a record of all the amazing things you have accomplished, as well as those you hope to. When you start feeling those creative juices flowing, you’ll have the perfect place to store them — and happy memories to look back on in the future.