Mama Journaling 101: The Tools of the Trade

Writing about my postpartum experiences was such an essential part of my recovery from PPD, that I am now writing a series of blog posts to inspire more moms to write their stories. In the first part of this series, I am sharing tips and ideas for journaling. 

I feel a bit pretentious devoting an entire post to “the tools of the trade.” It’s not like we are talking about skydiving or climbing a mountain. If you know how to write, you already know that you need (1) a writing tool and (2) a writing surface and boom, you are set.

But there are a lot of opinions about the “best” way to journal. Many writers insist – insist! – that there is something magical about the connection between pen and paper. They think something mystical gets lost when you write on a computer, so typing should be reserved for later, more polished drafts.

I think there is something magical about writing. And I think, for many writers, there is something magical about putting actual pen to actual paper. For me, though, the tools do not matter. I use a notebook and pen at night for my health journal. (My nightly record of how I slept the night before, food I ate, exercise I did, my moods, self-care, etc.) The rest of the time, I mostly write on my laptop. Sometimes I use a dedicated notebook to journal by hand for a few weeks, but I write faster when I’m typing and that helps me get into the flow.

If you know how you like to write, then write that way. Don’t get hung up on anyone else’s advice.

If you have no idea how you would like to write, then play around and have fun with a few different ways:

  • Sit down at your desktop computer and try writing there.
  • Buy a cheap notebook – or better, dig up an old one gathering dust – and get some cheap pens and just write already.
  • Try your laptop while lounging on your bed.
  • Put some blank sheets of paper on a clipboard and write with a stubby pencil.
  • Try graph paper!
  • A legal pad with the swankiest pen you can afford.
  • Short entries on index cards with a mechanical pencil.

There are dozens of possibilities for writing. Do what works for you. I do not buy fancy notebooks because then I worry about writing perfectly, but maybe a fancy notebook will inspire you to spend an hour each morning musing and ruminating on its lush pristine pages.

Don’t spend too much time trying to decide on your personal tools of the trade. The time you spend debating the virtues of a laptop versus a spiral notebook is time you could spend writing!

Remember: you don’t have to figure out your magical combination of writing tools the first time you sit down to journal. I flip-flop between computer and handwriting. The change is probably good for my mind. So just use whatever you have on hand today, and, you can always try something different tomorrow, next week, or whenever you want.

Journaling Prompts

  • Have you kept a journal before? How? What were your tools of the trade?
  • Do you crave a fancy journal?
  • Do you have all the tools you think you need?
  • Do you ever spend time thinking about reasons to not write when you could be using that time to actually write?
  • Do you think you might be secretly looking for excuses to avoid journaling?
  • Do you hate these journaling prompts?