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  • Writer's pictureSara

Have pen will travel......

The pen is mightier than the sword (Bulwer-Lytton, 1874) the concept that the power of writing is eternal, consider your favourite books or tv shows (they start with a script), whereas in comparison the power of the sword is short-lived. Using words to help you set down your thoughts and prioritise has been proven to be beneficial to both controlling your emotions and managing your mental health (Watson et al, 2023).

I was always one of those yoyo diary writers, I have countless half filled diaries and journals. I repeatedly failed to have the pages full of witty anecdotes and happenings of the day, month or year. But my collection of unfinished diaries did yield me a great resource years later when I was trying to find out what I had been doing at the time. I was relieved that I had not thrown them out. I also discovered a number of journals that were often filled with sloped ink and predominantly the recipient of my outpouring woes. I rummaged through these and realised that I had not recorded my happy moments. I decided this had to change. but of course there is this part of me that I always fail to acknowledge when setting myself a regular task, my curious soul is too cat like in its endeavours and habitual boundaries quickly become restrictive strangling my creativity or so I thought.

I concluded I was not a dear diary type, and it helped if I did not restrict my journaling to a specific date set. So those beautiful blank journals were perfect, they are so luxurious to hold and gaze at and then decide that I daren't spoil its beauty with my ink. So, I am the owner of some most fabulous journals with glorious colours and gilded edges, they are waiting patiently for me to dare to scrawl across their creamy vellum pages.

Finding the journal style that encouraged writing was an important factor, it needed to have paper that did not bleed as I was intent on using a fountain pen, the paper must also be smooth to prevent the nib snagging. I also did not feel content with lined pages which often marred my doodles, what worked for me was the dotted page, perfect for keeping straight lines in text and helping format my sketches that accompanied some of my narrative.

How you write in your journal is entirely down to your own choice, if you are intent on making it a habit, recent research by Lally et al (2010) concluded that the average time to acquire a habit was 66 days, you might want to get a book that has at least 80 pages to write in. I tried keeping my journal by the computer, I considered that it was the obvious place to nudge me into writing, again I was wrong about my habit forming routine. What works for me at the moment is having my journal located near my breakfast space. There are also some note taking apps for both phone or tablet that allow you to customise your space.

Getting Started - you have a pen with at least a few pages of ink left inside it, and a exercise book and you sit looking at the blank page for several moments before deciding its time to put the kettle on again. Its times like these that free writing comes into its own. If you need a nudge, look at a picture or set yourself a theme and just write for 5 minutes trying not to let the pen leave the page and let it flow, try not to overthink and leaving reading through until your five minutes are up. When the time is up, have a look and see if it has any rhythm or trend to it, are there any themes or suggestions of ideas that you can pick out. Free writing is a phrase coined by Peter Elbow you may have heard it referred to as stream of consciousness writing. It allows freedom of words to be placed without boundaries.

Along with my collection of beautiful journals, I have also amassed a fine collection of fountain pens. My hobby makes me an easy person to buy for at Christmas and Birthday. Finding new coloured inks that fit my pen provides me with pleasure as it all comes together in its creativity.



Bulwer-Lytton. E. (1874) Richelieu, Or, The Conspiracy A Play in Five Acts. London; G.Routledge &Sons.

Elbow, P. (1973) Writing without Teachers. London: Oxford University Press.

Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W. & Wardle, J. (2010) 'How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world'. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40 (6), pp. 998-1009.

Watson. L.R., Fraser. M., Ballas. P. (2023) Journaling for Mental Health. Rochester.NY; University of Rochester Medical Center.


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