Reasons to keep a personal journal or sketchbook

In the age of omnipresent keyboards and computers and the internet lurking behind all of them, the idea of a handwritten journal might seem quaint or pointless. But there are good reasons to keep one, writes Alan Henry.

Writing can do wonders for your health. Beyond keeping your creative juices flowing—a separate topic we'll get to shortly—regular writing can give you a safe, cathartic release valve for the stresses of your daily life. We've discussed some of those mental and emotional benefits of writing before, from the angle of creative writing—but you don't have to write fiction to get them. For example, we've mentioned that keeping an awesomeness journal can do wonders for your self-esteem. Not only does regular writing make you feel good, it helps you re-live the events you experienced in a safe environment where you can process them without fear or stress.
Using a brightly-lit, internetworked, general-purpose consumer computer for everything puts everything you do just a single decision away from being in the same place as everything else. So I strongly recommend a paper journal over an app, at least for those looking at journaling as a way to shake free of the spell of life spent constantly reading and writing online.

Skip Moleskines, at least the expensive ones, if you're just starting out. Cheap is the freedom to experiment. You can buy a box of 25 notebooks for about $30 shipped at Amazon.com, and they're just fine. Heres a box of ruled ones. Upgrade to a nice hardbound A4 journal as a reward for getting through the first set!

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