Ask the Reader: Do You Like Writing With Fountain Pens?


I love writing with fountain pens. The two favourite fountain pens I have are a Parker Frontier that my husband gave me as a present, and a Waterman pen that was a present from fellow colleagues when I worked at a Library during college. Both are good quality, solid pens. The ink just flows so smoothly that the act of writing is an absolute pleasure.

Unfortunately, I can’t use them for journaling because I generally use moleskines and the one flaw of moleskines is incompatibility with fountain pens. But I use fountain pens to scribble in my other notebooks, usually for writing drafts. 

There is something just so classy, “old-world” about using a fountain pen. It makes it easy to imagine oneself an artistic genius, scribbling away something that might be revered through the eyes of future critiques. 

How do you feel about fountain pens? Do you love them, hate them, or don’t care? 

If you do like them, which is your favourite? 


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Journaling to Achieve Your Bucket List


Yvonne Root of Journal in a Box asked in response to my 40 Things to do Before 40 post, how would journaling aid me in that quest. 

The simple answer is that journaling helps me with everything. But that isn’t going to help you in understanding how you can use journaling to achieve your own goals.

Here, I’m going to tell you exactly how I use journaling to achieve my goals. 

1. Brainstorming

I didn’t instantly have a list of these 40 things. I had an idea that I should do something like this, so I scribbled the idea in my journal. Over time I made a few random notes about it. 

2. Write down definitive goals

Brainstorming and lists are fine, but then you need to be specific. The brainstorming leads to definitive goals. They may change over time but writing down all of these in a journal usually leads to a natural goal-setting for me. 

3. Narrow the focus

I have 40 things to do over the next decade. Many of these goals are dependent on other things. For example, to be able to travel, I would need money. Some goals are only partially in my control. For example, I can write a book, make it as best as I can, but then it’s up to the agents to accept it, and publishers to publish it. Unless I decide to go down the self-publishing route, I wouldn’t have a lot of control over how long the process takes. So it comes down to narrowing the focus, and make my immediate and definitive goals the ones that are within my control. 

4. Record Progress

As I work on various goals and projects, I regularly journal about them. About the good, bad and the ugly. Things that are successful, and things that fail miserably. I also journal about personal triumphs and personal failings. This help me keep things in perspective, keep my goals in mind, but also record my journey which I hope would be useful for future projects. 


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Journaling Exercise: The Stop Doing List



For a lot of people, the main reason why they don’t have enough time or money or resources to do what they want is because they spend all the time, money, and resources doing things they don’t want to do. 

Please don’t give me excuses about  your responsibilities. For most people, it’s about the choices we make. Sometimes, to get what we want in one area, we have to make sacrifices in other areas. But at the end of the day, it is a choice. The more you take ownership of that, the more you would feel in control of making the choices that are right for you.

But to do that, first you need to focus on what you are going to stop doing. 

In your journal, start a list of things you want to stop doing. Things that you hate, or find boring. Things that cost money that  you would rather spend on something else. Things that are against your values and beliefs.

Write fast, and keep going. Don’t worry about being practical, and most certainly don’t get sucked into feeling guilty. Think of this exercise as wishful thinking. If you were free to do what you wanted, what would you stop doing?  


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Journaling Exercise: Poet for the Day




When was the last time you read a poem? If you can’t recall, or if it was before last month, then your first assignment is to read a poem. 

Any poem. Just google poem, and you will have tons of choices. Here are some of my favourites: 

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost 

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by W. B. Yeats

Make sure you read the poem out loud. Feel the words. When you read a poem the way it’s supposed to be read (follow the punctuation marks), you will respond to it emotionally and physically. That is the power of written word, and the beauty of poems. 

Now, here is your main assignment:

For one day, write in your journal through poetry. You don’t have to get technical and create perfect Haikus. Your lines don’t have to rhyme. Just write a poem, without thinking too much. Write through instinct, and don’t worry if it doesn’t sound like a masterpiece. 

This assignment is not about creating publishable poetry. It’s about incorporating a different medium in your journals, and about flexing your creative muscles. 

If you wish, feel free to send the poems you write either in the comments here, or by emailing them to me: dolly [at] kaizenjournaling [dot] com


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40 Things to Do Before 40



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Today, I’m 30. I know it doesn’t change anything. I don’t feel any different than what I felt at 29. But still, it’s a new decade, and so it’s nice to make a big deal out of it. 

As I love having lists and projects, I decided make a list of 40 things I want to do before I am 40. A mini bucket-list if you will. It also takes into account my life-long Polymath Project

How is this relevant to you? 

Well, I hope my list inspires you to crate your own mini bucket-list, to focus on the things that you want to accomplish, things that matter to you. No matter how old you are, time to focus on the things you want to do is NOW. 

Without further ado, here is my list of things I want do within the next decade. 

  1. Own a house in London
  2. Have a perfect library/study in my own home
  3. Go hiking – 19/09/2015 (Prague)
  4. See Mousetrap  (Play)
  5. Make a full time income on my own terms
  6. Reach my ideal weight
  7. Yoga/Pilates for 52 consecutive weeks
  8. Run 5K 
  9. Dress up at a costume party or a convention
  10. Fly first class
  11. Gratitude letter for Mom and Dad – 25/12/2014
  12. Be a published journaling author – 23/04/2013 [Journaling to Self-Awareness in 30 Days]
  13. Make x amount from one KJ workshop
  14. Run a paid in-person journaling workshop
  15. Learn how to salsa/ballroom/contemporary dance
  16. Learn martial arts
  17. Fluent in Italian
  18. Fluent in Spanish
  19. Read at least 100 books in languages other than English
  20. Get a Master’s degree
  21. Go to a writer’s retreat or create one of my own – August 2015 (Writer’s groups, London)
  22. Personal Goal 1
  23. Personal Goal 2
  24. Personal Goal 3
  25. Travel to at least 1 new place (international) a year – [2013: Ecuador, Fatehpur Sikri (India) / 2014: Dakor (India), Moved to London / 2015: Prague, Terezin, Kutna Hora, Lidice (Czech Republic)]
  26. Do 10 things / visit places in London I haven’t done/visited before – 2014
  27. Go on a cruise
  28. Spend a night in a desert
  29. Spend a month in India – November 2013 to April 2014
  30. Visit Harry Potter World, London
  31. Visit London Dungeons
  32. Write 7K per week (This goal was initially 10K per week, which I found completely unsustainable, so made it more realistic) 
  33. Be a traditionally published novelist
  34. Get an agent for fiction
  35. Be a published fantasy author
  36. Sell movie/tv rights of my book
  37. Have a short-story published (paid) in print 
  38. Be a traditionally published author of a non-fiction book
  39. Have a paper/essay/book published – on or about works of ACD
  40. Have KJ related item published in print magazine / newspaper

Yeah I know, quite a bit of this list includes travel, and most of the other stuff includes some kind of learning – both of which are important to me. That’s the whole point. Focus on the things that are important to you, so that when you look back, you see experiences, not regrets. 




How to Get Your Inner Censor to Shut Up


This post is a result of an email from a reader. Nigel Burns mentioned in his email that he struggled to get his inner censor to shut up. I promised to write a post about it because this is an important topic. Nigel is not the only one, nor is he in the minority for having this issue.

Getting your inner censor to shut up is essential for all kinds of creative projects, at least for long enough to get the first draft done. But for journaling, it’s imperative. Journaling is about self-expression. It doesn’t matter whether you are discovering yourself, or have all the answers. It doesn’t matter if you are journaling only for yourself, or to pass it down to your children. Without honesty, without the freedom to express yourself as you wish, you may as well not bother keeping a journal. 

If you keep shutting up your inner voice that wants to say something that makes you feel uncomfortable, then you are repressing who you are. If you shy away from writing something because you fear someone else might read it then you are taking away a powerful aspect of journaling. In doing so, you are giving voice and power to your inner censor. That is precisely what you don’t want to do. You don’t want to keep feeding that little devil. It has its uses, but not in journaling, and not any time you are creating a piece of art. 

Here are four exercises to get your Inner Censor to shut up: 

Timed writing: this is the exercise made famous by Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. It’s very simple. You just set a timer – usually for minimum 10 minutes – and just write. That’s all. The key is to keep writing, as fast as possible, and not stop at all. Your challenge is to just put down the words. That means, you are not looking at what you are writing, you are not editing, you are not correcting your spelling mistakes. Just keep writing until the time runs out.

Talk to your Inner Censor: Yes, talk to it. Have a dialogue, on the page. Write as if you are writing a script between yourself and your Inner Censor. Ask it, what’s the problem? Keep the dialogue moving. Maybe it will be a banter, or maybe it will be a sob story. Take it seriously. Whether it turns out to be one of those uncomfortable conversations you would rather avoid, or the most enlightening one, keep talking until there is clearly nothing more left to say.

Have a schedule: Make a journaling schedule, and stick to it. For example, your goal maybe to write two pages everyday. In that case, you just keep writing, you keep going until those words are on the page. You tell your Inner Censor that once you two pages are done, it has permission to disturb you. Keep the promise. Once those two pages are done, if you want to, go back and edit or review your writing. The important thing is that you are able to get the words out in the first place. 

Decide what journaling means to you: This is important. Why are you journaling? What are you attempting to get out of this experience? What this experience means to you? This is your motivation behind honesty. This is your motivation for letting go of all doubts and fears that hold you back from opening up. These journals are for you, and no one else. If you can’t manage the guts to be free with yourself, be completely honest, then how do you expect to live your life being  yourself? Keep reminding yourself of that. 


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