I wrote my first ever journal entry when I was eleven. My guinea pig had died and it was clearly noteworthy enough for me to open a (Brambly Hedge — remember them?) notebook, jot down the date and write “Tonic died today.” Our guinea pigs were called Gin and Tonic — I think Gin departed this world soon after, too. From then on I wrote in the notebook, filling it up and starting another, filling that up and switching to a binder with looseleaf A4 paper. I have my entire teenage chronicled in an ever-changing array of handwriting styles, coloured pens and dramatic exclamations — losing my virginity is recorded in extraordinary detail *ahem*

Having this diary is such a gift. I’ve dipped into it over the years, and once I get past the cringe-worthy accounts of a teenage girl’s life, there are gems to be found, flashes of insight that make me marvel at how much I intuited even at such a young age. But the most important thing that diary gave me was a journalling practice for life.

When my love died in 2005 I filled a whole Moleskine notebook in a month, pouring out everything I’d wanted to say to him, trying to make sense of what had happened. I had our entire relationship recorded in my journal, from every sweet thing he’d ever done for me to the usual frustrations a couple in love encounters. My journal has been my sanity keeper in the worst times of my life. It’s been the receptacle for the sweetest memories, the most embarrassing secrets and the daily humdrum banality of being alive.

I’ve always wanted to have one of those sketchbooks filled with artsy inked notes and clever watercolour vignettes. I went to art college but I can’t draw to save my life, so I’ve learned how to do it my way, with words and cut-out images and the occasional glue stick. I call it my Creative Dream Journal and it lives in a turquoise Filofax filled with images and scribbles, plans and lists, poetry and musings. So much of what I have drawn into my life over the last few years first existed in my CDJ. Which is why I decided to make the creation of a Creative Dream Journal the focus of my new course.

Over the years my journal has existed in many forms, but at its core it’s been my confidante and safe place. Whether I’m using pen and paper or postcards and washi tape, it’s the way I access my innermost dreams and my most honest and authentic voice. I don’t lie in my journal so I always get the truth about myself reflected back at me. I can join the dots backwards and witness my own growth. So many times I’ve leafed through my journal to figure out why I was feeling a certain way and had I felt that before…. had I survived it? And it’s all in there, the proof that I have survived: the grief, the PMS, the moving home, the making and breaking of friendships. It’s all in there. Its like having my own manual-of-me.

When I die I’m sure there will be loved ones who’ll appreciate having my journals to read through to help them feel more connected to their mama/auntie/wife, but for now my journal is for me alone. It’s the bestest friend I’ve ever had and my constant companion.

I really can’t say enough about how incredible — and useful — journalling is. So I’ve made a course to share the love and help others ignite their journalling passion, too.

Registration for Journal Your Life opens tomorrow. I hope you can join me!