My Name is Kate, and I have Journal Anxiety

Hi my name is Kate and I have journal anxiety. Read more at

I’ve been flip-flopping on writing about my journal anxiety for a while. Part of it was the shame of feeling like a failure.

But when I was talking with former Inkette Jessica Corra, I found someone who felt the same way.

What I Mean When I Talk About Journal Anxiety

Journal anxiety is the profound feeling of unworthiness that comes when one writes in a ‘nice’ journal. The benchmark of what constitutes a nice journal differs from person to person.

I find myself paralyzed when it comes to using journals that are leather or faux leather, Moleskines or comparable style and quality like Leuchttrum1917s, or any really pretty journals.

I don’t want to write in them. I have the journal, I own the journal, and I carry it with me, but I don’t feel that my words or ideas are worthy enough to go into the journal.

Even when it a pretty journal is the only journal I have with me when an idea strikes, I will weigh between spoiling the ‘perfection’ of an unmarked page. Half the time I’ll pull out my iphone and put the idea in the notes section (you know, that abyss where ideas are never found again).

The only reason I was able to complete my February Freewriting Challenge was because I had a journal I didn’t feel like I had to ‘respect’. Even as I write that, I am berating myself “You’re respecting an inanimate object?!” Yes, internal dialogue, I recognize you as depression and anxiety. But you’ve persisted so long I don’t recognize you until later.

I Basically Collect Blank Journals

I get journals as gifts–a lot of them. I buy journals. I have a thing for stationery. I write letters and I never like to use the last sheet in a set because I want to keep an archive of all the prettiness that has come before. I love quality gorgeous journals but I just can’t write on the pages.

I occasionally want to cave and buy crap notebooks to just fill them…but the draw to the pretty is too strong…and too counter-productive.

So, please tell me I’m not the only one with a major case of journal anxiety but the irresistible draw to them.


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  1. I used to do that. All the time. Now I’ve trained myself to pass over the ones that are fancy to the point that I’ll have trouble writing in them. The ones I get now are mostly gifts from well-meaning people. Sometimes, I take the front page and write a quote or do an ink test – something to break the ice. But that still doesn’t work all the time…

    1. I tend to do ink-tests in the back page. And I leave the first few pages blank “In case I want to do something with them.” O.o

      I’ve been trying to train myself with a more BuJo philosophy in which everything does in the journal and it gets indexed, but I’m still having issues finding a journal type, binding, and paper thickness/line-type that works the best. Sigh.

  2. This post resonated with me so much!

    A friend of mine went to a concert. I’m a huge fan of the artist, but was unable to buy a ticket before it was sold out. My friend knew this, and so bought me some merch at the concert. The merch she got me was a notebook. I was very happy. To have the merch, of course, but more so because my friend thought of me. It was very kind of her to buy it for me!

    Recently, I’ve discovered Bullet Journaling, and thought about trying it. And, at the same time, my friend got me this official notebook! It seems like a perfect combination, right…?

    I’ve been dying of anxiety. The anxiety has gotten so bad that I’ve started suffering insomnia. Some days I don’t sleep at all. I’ve lost my appetite, and have gained a very bloated stomach. The pain is insane. I feel like my heart is beating out of my chest. I keep telling myself, “just write something in the notebook!” Perhaps I’m partially scared of trying bullet journaling for the first time. It seems kind of scary. But what else should I do with such a nice present? Write my grocery list in it? Use it as a memo pad? I don’t want to tear out the pages! Every page in that book is precious! I have to do something important with it! But I can’t do nothing with it! The next time my friend visits my house I want to open the notebook and show her I’m doing something important with it! The artist at the concert is her absolute favorite! She even got lucky with the lottery and got to meet the artist for a few seconds. And amongst all that she thought to buy me a notebook? I can’t not do something with the notebook! But I feel like anything I do with it will be a complete fail!

    I bought a few things to help me start Bullet Journaling. I bought myself a ruler. I bought some gold letter stickers so I can personalize it with my name. I have some ideas of the layout. But I haven’t written a single word, and I’m living in terror. Why am I such a silly, silly person.

    Please tell me, what do you think I should do with the notebook?

    1. If you really want to use the notebook, you will have to come to terms with the fact that it will be used. It will archive a time in your life and imagination and, as such, won’t be pristine and relevant in the future.

      To start bullet journalling, I found that for daily and weekly spreads, using a notebook I was less attached to helped. It wasn’t painful to write how many times I was doing laundry in a journal that didn’t have emotional significance to me.

      For the precious journal, I would look into one of these uses for it:
      – A gratitude journal where you write about aspects of your life that you are thankful for. A book like that can be referenced often and will continue to grow as you need it.
      – A book of lists. Books you read and loved, things you want to do a la a bucket list, trips you want to take. Things that really stand out for you. You could collage in those pages as well, as much as the binding allows.
      – A memory books of your friendship with said friend who got the journal for you. Memorable dates and experiences, inside jokes and shared passions. Strengthen the link between you and her with this book.

      I hope these ideas help you! *hugs*

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