The Great New Journal Paradox

An empty journal is a wealth of possibilities. It is an opportunity for the wonderful held together between a cover that is sometimes elegant, sometimes practical and always pristine to start with. It is the chance of finding success secured together with endless spirals, keeping the pages safe, keeping the potential collated.

A new journal is purchased with optimism and a strong belief that ideas will form, words will come and originality will take shape. It’s exciting to think that every page can evolve into something, from a mundane shopping list to a remarkable poem. It’s there. It’s ready. It’s yours.


There’s always an anxiety though that leads to a pause. It creates an urge, not to write but instead to hesitate, to think just a little bit more and preserve those white pages and their pristine lines just a little longer.


Fear of failure and high expectations leave us wracking our brains, pens still tucked behind our ears, concerned with the notion that these pages deserve only excellence. The pressure – even when we allow the pen to hover over the page-  mounts, ensuring we don’t commit anything to ink too soon and spoil the neat and innocent pages. We wait for the perfect idea.

But perfect never comes. It is the age-old enemy of the good. The nemesis of success. You see, the pages of this or that ordinary journal are just waiting to be scribbled on; they’re dying to be dirtied. While we, the good intentioned writer, leave them blank and neat, they’re the same as a neighbour on any shelf: an unoriginal tool, stacked and unidentifiable. Or worse, they’re left discarded, open and undignified on a dining room table.

The minute, however, that we bite the bullet, put pen to paper and get whatever is inside of us out and down in harsh blank ink, we’re giving this crisp, clean journal character. It doesn’t matter if our writing is neat or on the line. It doesn’t matter if our spelling is off or our infinitives are split. What matters is that these pages, between whatever charming cover we may have chosen, have blossomed from the average to the unique with a few drafts or a scribbled poem.  We’ve taken something unassuming and unoriginal and turned it into something with a style and attitude all of its own.

Whatever the result, it’s something that no one else has bothered to, been able to, or taken the time to write. No self respecting journal wants to remain pristine. It wants frustrations, half sentences, ideas and ink.

Sure, pick a journal based on its pretty colour, but remember it’s the content, not the cover that counts. 

Journals: it’s the content, not that cover, that counts.

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