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Millerton News reporter Kaitlin Lyle advocates for journaling as a way to store memories and also to work out problems you aren’t necessarily ready to talk about yet. Photo by Hunter O. Lyle

Turning The Page This Fall With Journaling

Whatever you hope to gain from giving journaling a try, just remember: It’s not the journal or the pen that matters, it’s what you put on the pages.

Take it from someone who’s been practicing the art of journaling for more than a decade: You may just discover more about yourself with a pen in hand and a blank page than you might suspect. 

For some, journaling can be therapeutic: A few flicks of the wrist and you can feel confident that your thoughts are secure with a silent listener. 

Others may use it to preserve memories, to jot down the woes and wonders of everyday life or to even find a way to approach conflicts they’re too anxious to talk about out loud.

I first turned to journaling in high school and continued writing through college; this year, I’ve been using journaling to chronicle stories from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of friends and family members, I haven’t needed to buy myself a new journal in years, though that hasn’t stopped me from admiring the ones I see on display at stores around here.

The journal you purchase can reflect the way you want to tell your story. Are you looking for something small that you can whip out of your pocket at a moment’s notice? If so, you might enjoy a Moleskine Classic Notebook, a Moleskine Volant Journal or a Moleskine Cahier Journal. If you want to see how they fit your own pockets or pocketbook, you can see and purchase them in person at Oblong Books & Music in Millerton, N.Y.,or you can check Barnes and Nobles in Kingston, N.Y., most Staples stores and most Target stores. 

If you don’t want one of the Moleskines (which were, famously, the notebook of choice for Ernest Hemingway and Pable Picasso), art supply stores such as JWS on Railroad Street in Great Barrington, Mass., always have interesting options for journaling. 

You can even buy heavy stock paper there and cut the sheets to be exactly the size you want, then custom cover them with the fabric or leather of your choice (you can also buy beautiful leather journals at Barnes and Noble; some are neat and tidy and others have unfinished edges that make them feel very “Lord of the Rings”).

Over in Kent, Conn., House of Books carries a line of leather journals from Rustico, with colors ranging from buckskin to black to burgundy. 

Young writers looking for a space to confide their thoughts in the manner of iconic YA heroine Harriet the Spy can always turn to the classic black-and-white marbled composition notebook, available at most stores and pharmacies. (Drip some juice from a tomato sandwich onto one of the pages, for a true Harriet the Spy experience.)

Those seeking encouragement while trying a hand at journaling might want to pick up an inspirational journal. These journals are designed with an uplifting message on the front cover to empower the journaler and can be found at most art supply and stationery stores, and online at Anthropologie. 

Journalers who like to keep track of the passing days can pick up a dated journal at Staples. 

Ocean State Job Lot in Torrington, Conn., also has an unexpectedly large and diverse selection of art supplies, notebooks and dated journals. 

Oblong Books & Music in Millerton sells a special Bibliophile Reader’s Journal, an ideal gift for book lovers and writers. Many vendors of books and journals also carry the decorative and entertaining Wreck This Journal line, which encourages  the destruction of the journal with poked pen holes, spilled coffee, drips from tomato sandwiches (see the above reference to Harriet the Spy) and defaced photos. This might be a good place to start for anyone who is ambivalent about journaling; perhaps it will prove to be a gateway to more pacific and productive journaling. If not, perhaps it will offer a good aggression outlet.

The opposite of the Wreck This Journal books is the Bullet Journal craze (well, it was a craze last year). This innovative series reminds us that we don’t have to put everything in electronic form on our phones and computers — we can write it down. On paper. With a pen. 

Devotees of Bullet Journals keep lists of their favorite pens. The biggest supplies of diverse pens can be found at Big Box stores such as Staples and Target; and small, independent stores that sell art supplies, such as Oblong, JWS and Tom’s Toys in Great Barrington. You can also find an excellent selection of pens at craft stores such as Michael’s and Joann (they have shops in Torrington, Conn., and Kingston). 

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