Megan Portorreal

From long-form to bullet journaling, there are many different types of journaling styles. The trick is to find which one is best for you.

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Photo by Brent Gorwin on Unsplash

As someone who has been journaling for over 15 years, I have experimented with all types of journaling styles-and there are many. From traditional journaling to passion journaling, there are so many styles that might work for some but not for others. However, if journaling is of interest to you, there is bound to be a perfect style for you. All forms of journaling have self-preservation at their core, so keep that in mind when trying out a style.

Traditional, or long-form, journaling is perhaps the most common style. This is where you write at length about your day, your feelings, or significant events. It works wonders as a form of therapy and self-analysis. …


From self-preservation to creative expression, here’s why you should never feel like it’s too late to start journaling.

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Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

The first time I knew I wanted to start journaling, I was 11 years old. My grandmother had just passed away. I might have had diaries before then — little pink padlocked things where I gushed about Pokémon cards, Sailor Moon, and nothing else — but it didn’t become a routine until after that monumental event in my life.

I lived with my grandmother for my whole life until her passing. She was a pillar in our family with the sturdiest foundation. She helped raise me and I loved her tremendously. As a preteen, it was difficult for me to process her absence. …


From sharpening your grammar to sparking creativity, here are four of my favorite books that can help you improve your writing.

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Photo by Nicole Wolf on Unsplash

Perhaps the thing I love more than writing is reading about writing. I am constantly looking for ways to improve my writing. From helpful podcasts like Write Now with Sarah Werner to the Craft Talk newsletter from author Jami Attenberg, there are so many valuable resources on writing out there waiting to be devoured by eager, creative minds. And devour them I do.

The thing I miss the most about college is discussing the art of writing with professors and classmates. After getting my English degree nearly 8 years ago, I’ve made a point to revisit old textbooks and references to keep my skills sharp. …


As the growing need for slow, thoughtful content emerges, I’m looking back on where my love for blogging began: on LiveJournal.

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Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

When I think back to my favorite time on the Internet, I think about blogging on LiveJournal. Yes, I had one; of course I did. I have kept a written journal since I was 12 years old, so naturally, I needed one online, too.

The great thing about LiveJournal was words were more important than pictures. As an aspiring writer, this was significant to me. Sure, imagery was sometimes used to capture a reader’s attention, but then people — young people — actually stopped to read. The focus wasn’t on securing the perfect portrait or humble-bragging about how great your life was at the moment. …


After indulging in many mental health days myself over the years, here’s how you can get the most out of yours.

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Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

When I think about mental health, the first thing that comes to mind is the practice of self-love. Taking the time to care for your mind, body, and spirit should be as important as anything else on your schedule. When you don’t take care of your mental health, the quality of your life suffers, which then takes a toll on your work, your daily enjoyment, and even your relationships with others.

I love to treat myself to a mental health day at least once a month. This typically involves taking a day off from work and chores to just rest and enjoy the things I love. …


Despite society telling me otherwise, I realized my sensitivity is actually my greatest superpower.

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Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a highly sensitive person. It’s something I’ve grappled with since I was a child. I’ve always kept to myself and felt everything deeply. During my teenage years, I was prone to tears caused by all kinds of things, from bullies to television commercials that pulled at my heartstrings. I often used to joke that my superpower was finding a way to cry at least once during every single movie.

In my experience, sensitivity was often something frowned upon. Society views assertiveness and toughness as strengths, and sensitivity is often — wrongfully — seen as a weakness. In the past, when people have learned about my sensitivity, they often used it to their advantage. Sometimes, I even felt like a moving bullseye in target practice. I noticed people would say or do things to simply prompt a reaction out of me. …


If you feel overwhelmed by elaborate bullet journal spreads, this minimal monthly setup is for you.

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I’ll be honest: when I first discovered the bullet journal tag (#bujo) on Instagram in 2018, I was intimidated. There was calligraphy, watercolor paintings, and elaborate drawings everywhere I looked. It wasn’t long before I discovered a palpable desire amongst the community to make spreads that were Instagram-ready — a pressure for perfection and individuality.

Still, as a lover of organization, creativity, and notebooks, I remained. Since I’m not an artist and can’t draw to save my life, I mostly lurked the hashtags and discussions. I rarely shared my own spreads online. I bookmarked inspiring posts to keep me motivated, but as each new month approached, a sense of dread filled me: What theme was I going to do this month? …


Why you should take the time to listen to your nightmares and your voice — now more than ever.

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The Nightmare (1781) by Henry Fuseli

Late one evening, I was out walking my dog when someone kidnapped me and took all of my organs.

I woke up in the hospital. The medical equipment around me beeped. The bright lights above my bed buzzed. I squinted at the doctor who stood with a clipboard in hand. His round, wire-thin glasses rested at the very tip of his nose. His pen was poised over the white pages.

“They took all of your organs,” he explained, scribbling notes. I was afraid to look under the thin sheets to see what was left of me. I imagined angry scar tissue, bloody bandages, baseball-shaped bruises. My body felt empty, hollow, like something was missing. …


How a hashtag challenge on Twitter helped me stay on track.

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Stack of journals. (Courtesy of Megan Portorreal)

When I first discovered Jami Attenberg’s 1000 Words of Summer (on the day it began), I thought: this is just what I need. I had been trying to get back into a regular writing routine for the past month and have failed miserably. I’d write 500 words one day, 400 the next. I’d skip a day or two, then somehow get out 800 words. But there was no method to the madness. There was no structure. And according to all the articles I was reading about working from home, I needed structure. A schedule.

I’m a woman who loves a good schedule. Schedules keep me focused. Schedules help me stay on track when I start to get distracted. But being home all day, every day, for months has affected me in ways I haven’t felt since I used to publish a fashion magazine from my home. Yet even then, I was allowed to leave my house and go anywhere I wanted, when I wanted. …


After months in quarantine, I am missing museums.

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Self-portrait (Courtesy of Megan Portorreal)

There is an episode of This Is Us where Rebecca tells her sons about a time she visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art as a little girl. There, she saw a woman staring at a painting — Madame X by John Singer Sargent, to be exact — for hours. She wondered how a person could have the time and patience to stare at a painting for that long. Being a young girl, she was sure the woman saw something that she didn’t.

She was so intrigued by this woman that she remembered her for the rest of her life. Decades later, she came back to New York to stare at the painting for as long as she wanted, just like the woman did. Finally, she knew: all her life, she was running out of time. And it finally felt good to do something she wanted, something she always said she was going to do. …

About

Megan Portorreal

Professional writer, editor, and creative in the New York City area. Obvious Pisces. http://meganportorreal.com

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