The Junque Journal

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-04-2011


Or….How My Niece FINALLY Started Keeping a Journal!

For years I have been trying to get my two nieces to start keeping a journal or diary or notebook or ANYTHING. I have one niece, Kate, that likes to read diarys and books that are written as diaries but never keeps one herself. The older niece, Nicole, has made several attempts (mainly to make me happy) to keep a diary, as sketch book, even dream journals, but never seemed to have any luck.

Then, as I was looking through the web on my own quest to see how other people are journaling I came across something that the creator calls a “Junque Journal” on YouTube. I loved it! It’s a totally creative, no pressure way to compile a “journal” of all the bits of your life that some how fall through the cracks.

Here is the video from YouTube:

I immediately introduced Nicole to the process and we spent a Saturday afternoon preparing the composition book and pages for the journal. We painted, inked, tore, glittered, taped, tied ribbons, stapled and anything else we could think of to use up old crafting supplies. The trick is to have the pages ready so you can just shove stuff in when you get the urge.

I have to admit, I didn’t really think it would go much further. We often have these art sessions, then, like your refrigerator, the light goes out when the door closes. Rarely, if ever, does the creative process stick with the when they leave my house. This time, however, I was to be amazed! Nicole took to her Junque Journal like I’ve never seen her do before with any of our projects. I was at my brother’s house one day and she plopped that big, beautiful, chunky, clunky, overstuffed, wonderful book down on the table. I was speechless. Check it out for yourself. I made her let e take a couple of pictures of it.

Truth be known, she far out stripped me on this project. I have yet to add a single thing to my junque journal. Her advise…don’t even think about it. Just shove stuff in it. No rhyme or reason or themes. Just put stuff in. It becomes it’s own, organic, living thing with no help from you. All you have to do is feed the thing.

Go ahead and give it a try. I’ve never found a journaling technique that is as wild and free as this Junque Journal!




AAAGGGHHHH!!!! Journal Demons!

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 02-10-2009


A few weeks ago (Over a month actually) I made a beautiful new journal.  I love it.  I love it too much!  I have not been able to make myself make a single mark in the book!  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  Several times in my journaling life I have purchased, been given, or made a book that seemed just too wonderful for me to write in.  This really tanks for the journal process.  Over the last month I have been journaling, of course, I can barely think or function in an organized manner without scribbling notes and drawing diagrams.  The problem is, lately those notes and drawings have no home.  Scraps of paper, legal pads, sticky notes, envelopes!  Its everywhere, and probably will never be gathered in total to a nice, safe home.

Do not fret.  There is a solution for this (and the sister problem of “my life isn’t exciting enough to write down”).  Its actually a two part solution.  The first and most important part is…..


When I first had to move from my wonderful southern Florida home back to Tennessee, my life/journaling took an excitement nose dive.  What did I have to record?  Did I care for future generations to see my Tennessee life?  So for about six months—no journal.  But soon the hypergraphia itch set back in.  I had to do something.  I grabbed a bunch of printer paper and put together a slap-dash Japanese stab binding book.  I promised myself that I could make it as ugly and unappealing as possible.  It was the ugliest journal I every carried.  On the other hand it was freeing.

Because the journal was so “ugly” and “unimportant” I was able to re-establish the daily (hourly) habit of keeping thoughts and ideas in one place.  As it turns out, the wildness of the entries in that book made it one of the most interesting in my collections.  I just hope the binding holds up. (the good thing about stab binding is that its easy to re-bind). It definitely helped restart my journaling life.

The second part of jump-starting your journal…


Let your prospects of Leonardo type journaling rest for a while.  Do some basic diary work.  Put down the date and one or two events that happened.  Or better yet—start with yesterday or the day before.  After you get a few days down on paper the habit will kick in.  Don’t over write it.  Just jot something down before bed.


Oct. 2 2009
Finally made PJK post for the week.  Better late than never.  Weather beautiful.  Heard from John.


That’s all you need.

For my situation I grabbed a Moleskine from my dresser and set it next to my bed.  I promised myself 30 days of basic diary, then I will get to the other book.  Ill probably keep up the basic diary in that book as well.  Just until the new wears off the book and I can go nuts.

Carl Jung’s Secret Diary

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 21-09-2009



Carl Gustav Jung

In the world of Journals there are certain works that stand out as benchmarks.  Oscar Wilde, Leonardo DaVinci, Anne Frank. None of these has been as intriguing to me as the secret Diary of Carl Jung.  Well let’s face it, if you put the word “Secret” in front of anything it automatically becomes intriguing, right?

I have often read about the secret diary, or the Red Book, as its sometimes called, in works of historical fiction or speculative histories.  Being a total mystery, the book lends itself easy to plot devices of all sorts.

Jung took himself on a deliberate adventure into his own world of unconsciousness and spirituality and recorded it all beautifully in his Red Book.  It is from this adventure that he developed the majority of his ideas on psychology.  He explores the ideas of Archetypes, Collective Unconscious, and Anima/Animas.  It’s all in there.

From the images I’ve seen he did this in a very beautiful and focused manner.  The few pages I’ve seen on the Internet look like the pages of a medieval manuscript, complete with calligraphy and illumination.

Here are some Quick Links to use if you want to check it out.

Some images are here on the World of Psychology page

A review of the upcoming publication of the book at  Amazon

A cool little work of fiction that utilizes the red book as a plot device is The Voynich Project: Nephilim Rising

Your Handwriting Does Not Suck

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-09-2009


Before she died, my grandmother spent some time writing out a quick history of her family and all the relatives she could think of.  It was just written in a steno notebook, and the notes were pretty much made as she thought of them, but she wanted to leave a little information for the family and I’m glad she did.  These few pages turned out to be things of beauty.  Over looking the dog-eared pages and the haphazard organization of notes, my grandmother had the most wonderful handwriting!  It was elegant and consistent.

My own handwriting has always been substantially less than stellar.  To start with, I’m a lefty.  Nothing works for us.  Notebook spirals cut into our wrists, ink smears, and your hand hides the letter as you make them.  I mixed cursive and printing with wild abandon.  I capitalized letters for no reason (often in the middle of words).  I felt I was just one handwriting analysis away from being committed to an asylum.  Heaven forbid I try to write something on unlined paper.

I’ve found a lot of people think they have this problem.  In an age when computer keyboards are ubiquitous, no time is spent on penmanship.  No one practices and when they scrawl something across the page they think of it as some sort of birth defect.  “I have lousy handwriting” gets the same inflection with “I was born with a vestigial tale.”

This lack of beauty in their handwriting keeps a lot of people from journaling.  Who wants to fill a book with proof of their weak skills?

I decided, one summer to see if I could fix my own scrawl up a bit.  You know what? It was surprisingly easy to do.  I found a great book to help me out.  Its called  Write Now: A Complete Self-teaching Program for Better Handwriting

Its a simple workbook that you can follow that will teach you some of the basics of improving your own handwriting.

Here’s a list of things I learned about improving my handwriting that summer:

  • Consistency is key.  When you decide on how to draw a letter (Capitol or Lowercase) stick with it.  Make all your small a’s look the same.  Cross all your t’s in the same spot.  Ascenders and descenders are the same lengths and bend in consistent fashions. The hump on your h should be the same height as the humps on m’s and n’s” This will go a long way to making your handwriting legible
  • Pay attention to letter and word spacing.  Letters go VERY close together.  Words should be separated by about an average letters width (technically the width of an m).
  • Start SLOW.  You will need time to build the letter forms into muscle memory.  Draw them slowly at first and very quickly you will get smooth with them.  If you see your handwriting deteriorating, slow down again.
  • Practice Practice Practice.  When schools actually taught penmanship (when my grandmother learned) they spent HOURS on drills and copying materials.  It burned the skill into their minds and muscles.  Just like any other skill or sport, proficiency comes with repetition of correct form.  Make beautiful “to-do” lists.  Copy a page from your paperback.  Get in some practice.

When you are happy with your handwriting, you will use it much more often.

Oh and here is a quick link concerning how to hold your pen.

And the Secret Word Is…

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 29-06-2009


I am in the process of rethinking the posting schedule for Practical Journal Keeping.  I am gonna add more stuff.  More posts during the week and more information coming at all times.  Unfortunately all the planning for the new stuff  ate up my weekend for getting the regular stuff ready for the post today. (By the way, if the Google spiders are looking for the word “stuff” I should hit the number one spot, right?)
The tentative plan starting next week is a normal, informative journal technique or hack on Mondays, then a book or journal review on Wednesdays, and finally a link fest on Fridays (where I will spotlight some of the other great journal related sites on the web.

Now for something at least a bit informative and journal related:

The Pig Pen Cipher, Masonic Cipher, or Templars Code.  A classic.

The Pig Pen Cipher, Masonic Cipher, or Templars Code. A classic.

Care to guess what these people have in common?

Beatrix Potter, writer of children’s stories
Charles Wesley, founder of the Methodist church
William Byrd II, colonial writer, patriarch, planter, and leader
Leonardo Da Vinci, inventor/artist
Samuel Pepys, 17th century man-about-town

Well, yes, the easy answer is that they all kept journals.  More to the point of this post, however, they were all famous for keeping their respective journals in code.  Many of them weren’t deciphered until long years after they died.

Does this sound familiar?  “I can’t keep a journal, what if someone finds it”? So…put the juicy bits in code.

I’ve found that keeping your entire journal in code can be a bit cumbersome.  I am all about keeping your journaling as practical and useful as possible. Sometimes, however, you just can’t risk it.  It’s just as effective to encode a name or a place or (certainly) a Christmas list.

I became interested in codes and secret writing at a very early age.  At one time I had an entire journal dedicated to collecting secret writing systems.  If I found a coded message in a mystery novel I would jot the key down in the book.  I had codes from The Shadow and the Dancing Men from Sherlock Holmes.  I transcribed the fictional alphabets of Tolkien, and Krypton, and the Disney movie, Atlantis.  I copied the rune systems of the Celts, the Vikings and the Dwarves of Middle earth. I was well suited to keep any secret I needed to.

Codes need not be so very complicated.  Leonardo simply wrote backwards. A very useful code, that is easy to remember and yet will foil the casual observer might go something like this:

an ythin gyo umigh td ot ofoo lth eey ecoul dthro wof f acasua lsnoo p.

I’ll leave it up to you to decode this message.

I had my trusty book of collected codes to draw from at any time.  You don’t need one.  You can, of course, use a bit of personal creativity to hide your secrets, or, if you are like me and interested in the methods of the rest of the world, there are many websites dedicated to codes and ciphers.

The site I check out constantly is basically an online version of my old codebook.  It’s called is a fantastic collection of writing systems from around the world, throughout history and literature and even from the imaginations of people out there today.  Admittedly some of the writing systems are a bit complex (one I’ve seen recently actually has animated, spinning letters), but there are plenty that can serve as a code for your journal or at least as a jumping off point for creating your own.

Using Your Journal to Access Your Genius.

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-06-2009


One of the most productive uses for a journal is to just sit down to figure things out.  When things stick in your mind or there is a decision to make or a problem to solve, your journal can be the perfect place to get it all sorted out before you make a move.  Using your journal for something as simple as a sounding board for you ideas can take you a long way toward refining them.

I discovered a book a few years ago that addresses this very subject.  Its called Accidental GENIUS; Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing (Mark Levy).  It’s a short but powerful book that takes you through several techniques of uncovering your own genius, creativity and problem solving skills.  These techniques include fast, nonstop timed freewriting, having conversations with the page and finding (or not finding) evidence to support ideas.

The book is short and to the point.  Reading it is a small investment in time that can lead to BIG changes in the way you approach your thought processes.

I find it usefull to use some of these techniques with a two-page-spread that I’ve discussed earlier.

The Two-Page Spread.

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 01-06-2009


I have to admit I get interested in a lot of things.  Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to what I am suddenly interested in.  I might start out the day with a slight interest in soap carving and suddenly around lunchtime I am introduced and obsessed with the Tung shing (Chinese almanacs).  I am only partly responsible for this.  Yeah I am easily distracted but the Internet is MADE to take me from one subject to another.  What’s a guy to do?

Well I take a page (figuratively and literally) from Barbara Sher’s book, Refuse to Choose.  Barbra identifies with so many of us that go through a half a dozen interests a day.  She has coined the term “scanner” for us.  She realizes that for most of these ideas and interests we don’t necessarily want to get a Ph.D. in the subject but feel the need to at least explore it for an indefinite amount of time.  She suggests the use of a journal that she calls a daybook to record these ideas for later and to explore them for as long as we feel compelled to.

The main tool I’ve adopted from this concept is her use of a two-page spread in the daybook.  Basically what it amounts to is opening your journal (this works great with larger format books) and using two facing pages to record everything regarding the subject you are pursuing.  Anytime you are researching this subject, you turn back to this spread and just add to it.  Soon you have a spread that is very dense with lists, names, websites, drawings, mind maps and thoughts.  It’s all neatly contained on the two-page spread for later reference if needed so you don’t have to cull the information from various pages scattered throughout the book.  If you need more than a two page spread, make another.  I generally use the next spreads to explore a detail from the first spread.

A quick 2-page spread planning a hiking trip to Moab this year.

A quick 2-page spread planning a hiking trip to Moab this year.

Uses I’ve found for a two-page spread:

Taking a trip to a new city?  Do some research on what you might like to do there.

Buying a camera? List your pros and cons, wish lists and price lists and even glue in some pictures from the web.

A day at the beach? Sketch some shells and then later you can identify them.

Reading a good book?  Keep notes on the mystery or info from the biography.

Joined a new club?  List new friends names, meeting times, buzzwords etc.

An Adventure Journal

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 25-05-2009


I am thinking of doing a lot more outdoor activities this year.  Hiking, camping, rock climbing are just a few of the things on my summer to-do list.  As I think about packing for these expeditions I am thinking about keeping records and journaling along the way.  I was doing a little research along these lines this week and I found this fantastic company.


From their Home Page:

Nomad Writing Journals are a product of our passion for outdoor activities and the desire to remember, in great detail, each and every adventure. These detailed writing journals grew out of our passion for traveling and outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, bird watching, fly fishing, paddle sports and live music. Keeping detailed entries in your Nomad Journals will serve as a diary of special moments you can share with family and friends over the years. We provide you with cues to record every detail of your trips and activities as a diary would, while still providing plenty of space to record your observations. Just click a tab to see specific Nomad Writing Journals.

Man I am psyched about this place. In addition to just blank journals they have journals that are tailor made for just about any outdoor activity, complete with prompts to keep you writing about anything from kayaking to outdoor music festivals.

I’ve ordered a blank journal already to shove into my backpack as a collection book during my summer adventures.  The measurements they give are for a book that is a bit smaller than half a sheet of standard 8.5×11 paper (fold a sheet in half and see if the size suits you). The journals come in either nylon or leather covers that can be refilled with new books.  The covers can even be personalized with your name or logo.  they sell these as promotional or corporate gifts but I imagine it would be just as easy to put your own, personal stamp on one.

nomad_journal_climbsnomad_journal_wineThey even sell waterproof versions of the book refills!

Do you adventure with you journal?  If so I wanna know what sorts of equipment you use.  What sort of Journal?  Do you have an indestructible pen?  Is there a technique you use to store your whole kit?  Leave a comment and share your tools and experiences.

Collecting Your Thoughts

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 11-05-2009


waxtabletThe ancient Egyptians didn’t write directly on the walls or papyrus .

The Romans and Greeks rarely sat down with a blank scroll and just started writing.

Even Leonardo DaVinci didn’t pull out a pristine book and start making notes and drawings and just trust his luck that all of his thoughts would come out in the order he wanted them published.

The Egyptians (like many ancients) would make notes on pot-shards (broken pots were a dime a dozen and you could scratch on them with anything) then later collect the important information in a more usable format.

Likewise the Romans did day-to-day note taking on wax tablets.  These were shallow frames of wood with wax melted into them that could be scratched into with a stylus.  These notes could be later transcribed onto a scroll.

The “Notebooks” of DaVinci didn’t start out as actual books.  He made notes on separate leaves of paper and then organized them as to topic.  It was years after his death that his followers managed to have them bound into books.

As much as I love having my clunky journal around to write and scheme and make notes, sometimes (actually quite often) it’s just not that practical to pull out and start scribbling.  At the same time, if I don’t write these things down they may become watered down in memory or even forgotten before I can get to my book.

My advice for journal keeping on the go is to take a lesson from these great thinkers of history.  Use something else to collect your thoughts.

I don’t carry pot-shards or a wax tablet but I do carry a small spiral notebook, or, four or five 3×5 index cards in my back pocket.  I can get a lot of information on two sides of a single index card.  I write small and do a lot of on the spot shorthand but later I can expound on the notes and ideas.

You can even get a sheet of the printable business cards and separate out a couple and keep them in your wallet for a more elegant solution.

You could try a folded sheet of paper like a Pocket Mod.  Go to their website an you can create and print a small book that is blank or has lines, grids, columns, calendars …  just about anything you can think of to help you stay organized.

Lately, however, I have been utilizing my cell phone as a collection book.  When journaling on the spot or making notes I can pull out the phone and start typing away.  Then just email or texts the notes to myself and I don’t even have to re-type them.

Think texting yourself a few notes is too tough.  Check out Robert Bernocco.  He managed to knock out an entire science fiction novel on his cell phone.

Okay, I admit that I am actually using an iPhone with an Evernote app that stores all sorts of information, including voice recordings and photos.  In any case, it’s actually become quite trendy to be typing into your cell phone when out and about, whereas scribbling in a notebook might actually be considered rude.  Go figure.

Just because you don’t have your journal with you doesn’t mean you have to stop journaling.  You can use almost anything to collect your thoughts or notes on the go, and then transcribe them at your leisure.

Life is a Safari

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 27-04-2009


Dan Eldon’s Journalsdanbook

Several years ago I was browsing through a bookstore and came across something really special.  At first I didn’t really know what I was looking at.  It was a collection of photographs and doodles and maps and all sorts of ephemera randomly crammed into the book.
I was hooked and bought the book.  It was later, when the excitement cooled a bit and I took the time to actually read the introduction and the back of the book that I found what I was looking at was actually a collection of the journals of a remarkable guy.

Dan Eldon was born in London in 1970 but soon moved with his family to Nairobi, Kenya.  He started taking photos for a local newspaper at a very young age, and developed a wonderful sense of adventure.  He also, early on, began to collect both his photographs and his adventures in a series of notebooks.

These notebooks are not the standard diary entries and list of sites you might expect.  They are a collection of layer upon layer of photos, paintings, ticket stubs, doodles, cut outs, hand outs, smears, feathers, coins, invitations and all sorts of important bits and pieces from his life and travels.

Dan took his notebooks with him everywhere along with a bin full of art supplies so that he could use any downtime (when did he have downtime?) at all to update and re-work page after page of his notebooks.

Looking through his books you feel like an archeologist. You dig down through strata of entries and ephemera that seem to be in no chronological order at all.  You can piece together his experiences by finding clues throughout the books.

I really can’t do them justice in this post.  Fortunately you can get a look at them online.