(Photo illustration by Jake Weir/B&W Staff)

Edit desk: Write it down

1

Marissa McCloy

Whoa. 

I say “whoa” all of the time. 

“Whoa” naturally slows the pace of its sentence. It slows the pace of a conversation. If I’m walking, it somehow slows my physical pace. 

And this is really important because Lehigh’s pace is fast. From Packer Avenue, you can watch students dart across campus, like steel balls on the giant pinball machine we call Memorial Walkway. 

The Brown and White thrives on this speed, rushing to break news and establish a digital presence to widely distribute its staff’s work. 

“Whoa” doesn’t call for my laptop and the published writing I craft with its keys. It translates instead to my journal, adorned with berries, grapes and leaves and with cream-colored pages much more inviting than Times New Roman on a white screen. 

It’s like journalism, but just without the “ism.” 

Without the “distinctive practice, system or philosophy.” 

You don’t have to use words like those if you don’t want to. You don’t have to use punctuation if you don’t want to. You don’t really have to make any sense if you don’t want to.

Because without the “ism”, it’s just a journal.

Like journalism, a journal will retain what it’s told in a college student’s semesters of fleeting moments. Unlike journalism, it only serves its owner. 

A journal definitely wants to know what you ate for breakfast today. It accepts words like “energy” and “weird” that are too vague to actually describe any feeling or situation. It recognizes your flaws, but, unlike you, it can accept them without judgement because it literally begins each day with a blank page.

There are a lot of different reasons to keep journals. 

My aunt collects the stickers from fruit and vegetable produce in a small journal. Creatives keep poetry journals and sketchbooks. My dad keeps a journal to document all of his camping trips. People arrange their thoughts into aesthetically pleasing lists, as bullet journaling rides a wave of popularity.

Regardless of what you use it for, a journal will help you communicate with yourself on a campus where you are constantly around other people. And if you start a journal now, you’ll have a candid record of how you navigated a formative time of your life.

Counseling psychologists will tell you to journal. Study abroad advisers will tell you to journal. Your grandma will tell you to journal. 

I definitely could have written this piece about journalism and, whoa, I’d have plenty to say but the journal comes before journalism. I don’t feel comfortable telling other people’s stories if I haven’t already scribbled my own in rhetorical questions and run-on sentences.

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