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Megan Portorreal
The Spat by Belmiro de Almeida, 1887

Over the years, I’ve wondered: what is the cost of being vulnerable? The first time I saw my first boyfriend when I was 15 years old, I wanted to tell him everything. I told myself that even if we weren’t going to be together, I wouldn’t mind, as long as I could talk to him — about anything. Then, I fantasized, he could tell me anything, without fear of judgment, without shame or embarrassment. Even if we couldn’t be together, that would be fine, as long as we knew each other.

That relationship has come and gone, but over the…

Several years ago, Moleskine released a collection of passion journals that I instantly fell in love with. Out of the whole collection, I picked their book journal, which featured embossed classic titles on the cover and alphabetized tabs along the sides. It was fun to update this with what I was reading while I was in college. However, over time, the habit fell off for me. These original passion journals have been replaced with new ones, but the sentiment remains. Sometimes, you just want a place to file away your favorite things.

In addition to keeping a bullet journal, I’ve…

Once I admitted that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, I created a system to better fit my writer’s lifestyle.

via @meganportorreal

I knew I needed to change my “system” when I was becoming more stressed and less fulfilled. As a writer, I felt like there were never enough hours in the day to do everything. I wanted to do too much, and I wanted to do it now. I was piling so much on my plate and stretching myself far too thin. It was important for me to write each day. However, so many things often got in the way of my daily word count goal. When doing everything became impossible, I became discouraged, which created a negative cycle.

The thing…

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.

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.

For the writer and thinker: Traditional Journaling

Traditional, or long-form, journaling is perhaps the most common style. This is where you write at length about your day, your…

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

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…

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

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…

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

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…

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

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…

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

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…

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

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…

Megan Portorreal

Professional writer, editor, and creative in the New York City area. Obvious Pisces.

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