Why I started journaling (consistently)

Image: pixabay

I have kept some form of diary for as long as I can remember. I look back on some of the fluffy pink diaries I kept as a child, and see the familiarity of the entries,

“Today I went to school and we did this… I ate this for dinner…. and then I went to sleep…”

this kind of repetitive entry I kept up for some years. Then I entered my teen years and it became a bit more all over the place. Most of the time I sporadically wrote snippet’s of my life. Some years I managed to keep it up solidly for a few months, and then gave up. At university I tried, but mostly failed. However, this is the first time in my life where I have been finding myself journaling, simply out of necessity.

Why I journal (now)

I decided to turn over a new leaf at the end of last year, to buy a brand new fancy notebook, with the intention that its thick pages and sleek design would motivate me to write in it. I used to be a person terrified over the prospect of ruining a nice new notebook – but now I have gotten rid of that fear I find myself writing with far more creativity than I used to.

There’s roughly four main purposes I use my journal for: organisation, keeping a diary, planning and tracking.

Organisation

I’m the kind of person who needs to write things down on paper to feel more organised in my own head. There’s nothing like the permanence of ink on paper to keep your head tidy. I use a weekly spread to plan my weeks out every month. In this I will have appointments, dates when I am working and also use it to write daily to do lists. I like to see an overview of the week to know what I am doing and to stay on top of things. I used to put this type of thing in my phone calendar, but it doesn’t offer the same satisfying visualization for me.

Train of thought and more ‘typical’ journaling

In between weekly spreads I use my journal for traditional diary writing. I write when I feel stressed, worried, anxious or when I am happy and want to document something. It usually reads like a train of thought and is disordered and chaotic, but it does the trick in clearing my mind. There’s no specific time when I write, but I usually find it’s more towards the end of the day. Most of this is nonsense, but I write with no intention of anyone ever reading it. I find that it gives me so much mental clarity and introspection.

Planning

I also like to use my journal for planning – and just about planning anything and everything. This goes for the books I want to read this year, things I want to do each moth and yearly goals. I also have a section completely dedicated to blog post ideas and what posts I want to write per month. Any time I have an idea about anything, I always make sure to write it down. I find this keeps me on track for achieving the things I want to do.

Tracking

Recently, I have been trying to track what I spend as I am trying to pay off an overdraft. I work out my (very rough) in-goings for the month and track what I am spending per week and divide them into essentials and non essentials. This way, I can really see what I am spending. As I have paperless bank statements I don’t really get physical proof of what I am spending. I also track what I have achieved in the month and sometimes how much water I drink per day – but this is something I usually forget.

What do I use?

For the notebook, I use a blank paged moleskine. I find the paper to be of very high quality (as I often write with a fountain pen this is essential). I used to always write in lined notebooks, but for planning and drawing out weekly spreads this is more appropriate. My favourite pen to write with is my twisbi mini fountain pen or my parker rollerball jotter.

Hope you enjoyed reading about why and how I use my journal and that it might inspire you to start your own!

January Round-up ~ 2020

Image: Violet Daniels

So how was January?

I’m writing this with very mixed feelings. Most of January felt like an endless slog. Everyday I had a new rejection and the weight of not being able to find a job took its toll.

However, today (on the last day of the month) I have found out that I have secured a job, so hooray! I no longer have to feel like a complete mess.

As many people say, January always feels like the worst month of the year. My first experience of 2020 wasn’t great. I sent out nearly 100 job applications and got rejected from most of them, I have had many rejections from national newspapers (again) and have generally felt a bit lost.

I still don’t know what to do about finding this ‘career’ us graduates are expected to get… but I still have time so that’s what matters.

But what I have felt happy about, and inspired by, is this blog. This blog may still be small and insignificant but compared to what it started out as, at the beginning of the month, I feel very proud. I started 2020 with just 19 followers, I now have nearly 30. Over the course of the month, I have achieved 251 new views and 47 likes on posts I have written. The numbers are small in the grand scheme of things, but nonetheless, it is progress.

I have realised that posting regularly and engaging within the WordPress community, really plays a big role in building up a following. My writing on here isn’t solely about gaining some kind of reception. I write above all, for me. I find this little corner of the internet that I have crafted myself, somewhat reassuring in times when I feel lonely and losing hope. I know I will always be able to bash out a blog post and feel a sense of achievement (even if it’s a bad one!)

After struggling over the past three years at university with reading for pleasure, I managed to read five books this month, but yes, I am still persevering with Ducks, Newburyport (will it ever end?).

Above all, this month I obtained my degree – which was quite a special moment, and one which drew a line under my time at university. It was a bittersweet day, but one I shall always remember. Although I feel panicked because I am officially a graduate, I am becoming more okay with the idea that I have no idea what I am doing, sort of.

This month I also finally got back into exercising regularly (cliche I know, as so has everyone else by the state of my gym) and feel far better for it. Lifting weights has always given me a sense of mental clarity.

However, this month, and this day in particular, is tinted with a bit of sadness for me. Today is the final day that Britain will be part of the E.U. I voted to remain and will always hold the view that Britain is better when it is part of a more global and outward looking community. But, I know that I have to put these views aside so that the country can attempt to try and move forward from the political rupture that was created. I just hope that he doesn’t make too much of a mess of it.

I feel at odds with the Labour party and have no idea who to vote for in the coming months. My heart leans towards Rebecca Long Bailey but none of the contenders fill me with the same amount of hope, passion and inspiration as Jeremy Corbyn did when I was 17. Part of me just doesn’t know what to think…

January had its ups and downs, but I am very glad to be ending it on a positive note. by securing a job. Onward and upwards as they say!

Quote of the month

“Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment and saying: Let us not forget this.”

Dave Eggers

Graduation (a reflection)

Over last weekend, I managed to successfully graduate from the University of York and obtain my degree certificate.

It was a successful experience on the whole. I managed to climb the stairs in sync with the processions of the ceremony, had the correct name read out alongside my degree, and didn’t manage to trip on my way down. I was relived when I could sit back in my seat and enjoy the rest of the ceremony without having to worry if I would make it up and down in one piece.

After the ceremony came the onslaught of photographs – both professional and ones taken by my parents. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. It isn’t often that the sun shines so brightly in the North of England – but it did on the 24th.

Sitting in central hall, surrounded by so many others – PhD’s, Masters and Bachelors, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was. Every person in that room had to put up a fight and keep themselves going throughout the pursuit of something they love. Seeing the array of mortar boards worn by people of any age, was incredibly inspiring (and I definitely hadn’t expected it to be.)

This may have been my first graduation – but I don’t expect it to be my last. If I can summon up the resources to finance another stint in education that is…

I feel a sense of sadness when I realise that last Friday were my last moments at the University of York as a student. But I also feel a huge sense of achievement and closure. My graduation was a long time coming, due to the delaying of my final exams. But now I can draw a firm line below my undergraduate life.

I’ll be honest, I don’t currently know what’s around the corner, but who really ever does?

Trying to Find Work (as a Graduate)

Image: Pixabay

So, it’s been a week or so since this series was launched. This post will probably not be as optimistic as my last, since it has been a week of failed job applications and applying for internships without hearing any responses. But hey, I’m just trying to keep this portrayal of post-student life real.

Alas, I am still trying to fight of a sinus infection and shift the constant runny nose and coughing up mucus (icky I know). My head feels heavy from all the antibiotics and I can’t help but spend half the time yearning to have a properly functioning throat and nose again.

They say that applying for jobs should be treated as a full-time job, and I very much agree. It is so time consuming writing a cover letter for every position, researching the company and filling out the various forms required for that application. But also, it is incredibly draining. And the worst of it is – 9/10 you will never hear back and when you do, it’s a big fat rejection.

What I find frustrating too is the assumption that anybody and everybody lives in London. Obviously, there are far more opportunities in the big city, but no scheme factors in the costs of doing unpaid experience for two weeks which could cost you an arm and leg just for the commute. Thus, a pile of money is needed in the first place.

I am turning away from pleaing for work experience and un-paid internships, as it is simply unaffordable. Instead, I have been applying for paid graduate schemes in publishing on the off chance they might like my sheer enthusiasm for books and forget about my imminent lack of experience. *sighs*

A part of me also still wants to pursue a career in journalism but getting experience (at any level) has almost proved impossible too. The constant empty applications, unanswered emails and phone calls from various editors has simply left me feeling down about it all. It’s a career I would love to have a chance at, but I can’t help but feel from my small experience, it is one locked away for the few.

And it would be quite nice to have a job on the side of all this to keep me going – but that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon either. And I’ve only got one pay check left from my last job….

January is going well so far, as you can tell. Only ten days until I graduate – then the lack of prospects will well and truly kick in.

Onwards and upwards, as they say 🙂

As always, if you would like to support me and my content, you can donate to my paypal.

How and Why to Read for Pleasure

Image: Pixabay

The common response to not reading is nearly always lack of time. This may definitely be true in some cases, however, when I think about how much time many people spend on their phones, on watching Netflix, on browsing the web and online shopping, I can’t help but think these activities could be substituted for reading (if they wanted to be).

Reading for pleasure is not a luxury and shouldn’t be dismissed as so.

I have had a love hate relationship with the rise of E-readers and Kindles – when I was younger I ardently opposed them and thought their use would see the end of the physical book. Alas, since 2007, when the first Kindle was released, the sales of paperback books have still been thriving. (I know this, having worked as a bookseller…)

To kindle… or not to kindle?

The Kindle and other e-readers offer something great – which is being able to take your bookcase with you everywhere. Books can be bulky and feel like an effort to take with you on your commute or travels and thus, a Kindle can save this burden.

I finally succumbed to being a Kindle user last year – although I have (and never will) abandon reading and buying physical books. I see the benefits of both and cannot see why readers shouldn’t use both. Moreover, I simply do not have the space to keep all the books that I want to read. Rather, I am far more selective about what books I buy now. Which is good for me, and the trees.

Fundamentally, Kindle’s make reading more accessible than perhaps the physical book. For one, many E-Books are usually cheaper than your average £7.99 paperback or £20 hardback, and they are great for people who have poor eyesight, with the adjustable font size and brightness.

Upon using a Kindle for the first time back in September, I really was surprised at how much it felt like I was reading physical pages. (This is not a sponsored post I promise, I just really like my Kindle….) Still not convinced?

How to make time for reading

  • Make it routine – this is the best way to make it a habit. Usually spend 10 minutes before bed scrolling on your phone? Switch your phone off and substitute it for a book. Your eyes and sleep will thank you for it.
  • Start small and build up – find the idea of spending an hour with a book daunting? Then don’t. Give yourself small goals, like reading one chapter at a time, or reading for 10 minutes every other day. This also works for the size of your books.
  • Stuck with what to read? Use the web There are some great websites out there – such as Goodreads, Fantastic Fiction and Literature Map. Or, you can do it the old fashioned way and go to your local bookshop and chat with a bookseller – they will be more than happy to assist! (Trust me!)
  • Don’t feel guilty – it may feel like self indulgence to switch yourself off from the world and your surroundings, but it isn’t. Reading for pleasure is a great way to improve your own mental health, imagination and knowledge.

Why you should make time to read

  • Taking a break from social media – reading has always been about escapism, but in the digital age it can be great to detach yourself from social media, especially before bed. If you have an iPhone, change your app settings to restrict your access – and then let yourself indulge in a book.
  • Benefits to mind, body and spirit – a good book will make you think and challenge you beyond your comfort zone. On a personal level, I also find that reading is good for my mental health and makes me feel more relaxed (especially when in the bath!)
  • Self indulgence is good – from time to time, it is good to self indulge and have that one-to-one time with yourself. This is something you should never feel guilty about. With reading, it’s just you and the book. Reading for pleasure as a form of self care is something that should be championed in the 2020s.

I hope this has been somewhat uplifting for anyone that is stuck in a reading rut or struggling to find time to read. Now that I spend more time reading, I do feel better in all senses. Happy reading!

V 🙂