Your Words Are The Best Words

journal words

Photograph by Norma Thatcher

I have terrible handwriting. Even my printing is bad. Sometimes I can’t read my own writing. In the past, it was frustrating for me to come across a scrap of paper with a name or idea that I’d jotted down and that I could not decipher.

I’ve learned to stop with the scraps of paper. I keep notebooks or tablets handy so that if I have trouble figuring out my hieroglyphics, at least the notes around the mystery words may provide some context.

My dad used to carry around a teeny notebook in his shirt pocket. He’d record the weather, the shifts he was working at the steel mill, and any noteworthy events that may have happened on that day. I actually have one of his books that includes the date September 16, 1950, where he wrote, “Baby was born.” Happy birthday to me!

Journaling is an activity that many experts recommend. Maud Purcell, writing on, identified health benefits of keeping a journal. One of them is the strengthening of immune cells and another is decreasing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis!

Along with bodily health benefits, journaling can also help our brains work better and more creatively. A link to the full article follows below this post.

There are no hard and fast rules for keeping a journal. Write about whatever you want, at whichever time you want, as often as you want. You don’t need an expensive Moleskine notebook or a Montblanc pen.

I go by the advice of “big paper, big ideas.” No shirt-pocket-sized versions for me. I also prefer wide-lined paper, which isn’t always easy to find in a grown-up notebook.

In case your brain is saying that keeping a journal is too similar to when you kept a sappy teenage diary, tell your brain to chill. Remind it that many famous people over the years have kept diaries and journals.

Just start writing. Buy a blank journal from the dollar store. Use an old Bic pen. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you write the first word.

What influenced me to write on this topic tonight? Why, thanks for asking.

I had bought two Penman Paper Company wide-lined large journals over twenty years ago. Sadly, I think the company may be out of business because their website domain name is up for sale. These are beautiful, sturdy spiral-bound journals. I had saved them for special occasions. I’m now using them because I’ve decided my life is a special occasion.

The photo at the top of this post is my favorite journal. Today I discovered that in the back of that book, I had hand-written a quote by Frances Mayes from her 1996 book Under the Tuscan Sun.

I do believe it’s just for you:  “A Chinese poet many centuries ago noted that to recreate something in words is like being alive twice.”

Go write the first word. Please.


Maud Purcell article

Link to images of Penman Paper Company journals just because I’m a geek about paper.


2 thoughts on “Your Words Are The Best Words

  1. Beverly Henderson says:

    Does writing notes in your check register through the years count? Mine are sort of like a diary. Really – I have them from the 1960’s through present day. Every time I think about throwing them away, I read through them and memories surface. Let’s see – oh, lots of airline tickets that I purchased, college loans, wedding neccesities (invitations, flowers, rehearsal dinners, caterers, musicians, etc.), lots of different car payments through the years, checks for birthdays to loved ones, and my favorites are restaurants where I would write either “Yummy” or “Yuck.” I must have inherited some of Daddy’s traits!

    • Norma Thatcher says:

      Well now, I have not heard of this type of diary entry or journalling but of course it counts! Maybe one day they will be on display at the Shingler family library.

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