Permission To Journal

"It's not about finding your voice, it's about giving yourself permission to use your voice." -Kris Carr

You do not need to have amazing handwriting. You don't even need to have good handwriting. You can have chicken scratch writing that no one can read but you. You can make big loopy letters or short jagged ones, or a mix of big and small. It's okay to try to make your journal pretty now and then – it can be fun and rewarding to do so -- but don't let perfectionism consume you. My hands shake. My brain goes faster than my pen, and sometimes I write the wrong word altogether. I make spelling mistakes and scratch things out. My letters are inconsistently sized, spaced, shaped. And that's okay.

If you have ever picked up a notebook, pen poised and ready to write, and stopped short because for some reason you found yourself lacking (perhaps you hate your handwriting, or you think that what you have to say isn't meaningful) this is for you.

You do not need to have deep, world-changing thoughts or ideas. Everything you write does not need to be poetry, or philosophy, or a well-thought-out essay. You can write about the color of your sneakers that makes you unjustifiably happy. You can write about teletubies, or your to-do list, or why sharks are your favorite animal. If you wait around for your best, most inspired thoughts, you will miss out on all the messy, beautiful, imperfect ones. Often times it's those lead us to the best ideas of all.

You do not need to have a fancy (expensive, beautiful, brand-name) notebook or pen. If you want to, by all means! But don't let NOT having them hold you back. You can start with the composition notebook you only wrote two pages in back in college, and that pen you accidentally stole when you were signing your receipt at Panera. It's okay. The paper and ink you use do not enhance or detract from the content of what you write. If you do go for something nicer, remember that price is not what counts – a nice notebook is one that makes you happy. 

You do not need to have a ton of free time. I know, I know -- if you want to create a detailed art journal, or draw up gorgeous bullet journal spreads, it WILL take time. But don't let being busy become an excuse that keeps you from doing anything at all. If you have half an hour in the morning, use it to jot down your thoughts, or do a messy sketch instead of a finished piece of art. How we spend these little pieces of time makes up how we spend our lives. If you want to write, or draw, or anything else... begin now. It's okay to create something detailed and beautiful one day, and something messy and rushed on the very next page. In fact, when it comes to journaling, those two things belong side by side, because they tell a story, and that story is you.

You do not have to do what I'm doing, or what anyone else is doing, EVER.  I am happily obsessed with looking at other people's journals on the internet. At times it can be a huge source of inspiration, and at others, a much needed reminder that I am not alone. (That right there is the very reason I started this page in the first place.) But it can be all too easy to start comparing yourself to other people, and that is a dangerous road to go down. There are a lot of beautiful journals out there – there are amazing artists, folks with phenomenal penmanship, and people who seem to never make mistakes – but don't be fooled. Let yourself be inspired by them, but don't let them stop you from making mistakes, or doing your own crazy, unique, perfectly-you thing. The only thing your journal needs to be is well-used, and well-loved. The rest is up to you.

You do not need to be an incredible artist / writer / planner. Journaling, writing, art, planning, they all require one specific little talent, and I'm happy to say you already have it: being you. What you bring to what you create is what MAKES IT GOOD. Don't let anyone else's ideals or opinions get in the way of that. Be you. Be flawed, be messy, be tiny minimal lines or big bold brush strokes. The inside of your journal is where you get to be who you are, without judgement, and it's an opportunity for us to learn to be gentle towards ourselves. This is who we are right now. This is who we are striving to become.

For most of us, we carry around a fear of inadequacy at all times, and that fear burns hottest when we try to be our naked selves. Journaling, like any other creative pursuit, is an exercise in walking with that fear. You don't really need permission to do it -- especially not from me -- but if you were waiting for an a-ok to be yourself, here you go.

Your writing is good enough. Your art is good enough. You are good enough. 


I want to know...

What stops you from writing, making art, or keeping a journal?

How do you overcome feelings of inadequacy, or comparison to others?

Do you give yourself permission, or do you fight with perfectionism?

Share in the comments below.