Your Dance Journal: No One Right Answer

I’m sure I’ve blogged about dance journals before — yep, here’s a post from way back in 2014! But I feel like talking some more about the subject, because it’s one people ask me about often.

My dance journal

When it comes to keeping a journal, for dance or otherwise, there’s a lot of approaches. My opinion is that there’s no “one true way” to do it. We’re all different, and we all have different ways of organizing our thoughts. With that in mind, here are my tips on how to build a good dance journal habit:

  1. As with any habit, consistency is key. So you need to figure out what works best for you. For some dancers, it may be to sit down and write immediately after practice or class. Personally, I like to write just before bed.
  2. Keep experimenting until you find what works. You’ll probably start by doing it however your teacher or favorite dancer has said they keep their journal. But that might not work for you. I, personally, like lined notebooks and I write down very linear thoughts in black ink. Others might prefer to have more of an unlined sketchbook, so they can doodle and use different colors of ink and group different ideas on different parts of the page. Still others are really into bullet journals. And some may prefer keeping a practice journal on their computer or phone.
  3. If you are keeping a physical journal, make sure you buy notebooks and pens that you really like. Having a fancy journal with a pretty cover makes me excited to write down my thoughts. It doesn’t even have to be expensive though, you can usually find some cute ones at Target for as cheap as about $5-8, or for around $15-20 you can get slightly fancier one at the bookstore. And having a pen that doesn’t hurt your hand, or skip a lot, will help encourage you to spend longer writing down your thoughts.
  4. Don’t feel bad if you don’t “get it” right away. It took me years to develop a good dance journal habit, and there were still a few times where I fell off the wagon for months at a time (usually when I also wasn’t dancing much). Now I have a pretty much daily habit and have for the past year or two. But even so, I still miss days. Just this past Saturday, I didn’t practice, so I didn’t journal. I didn’t journal at all when I was super sick in August. It’s OK. We have this weird fetishization of doing things daily. I promise it’s fine if you miss a day, or take a whole week off, or lose your journal after the first time you write in it and then forget it was even a thing you were doing until you find it again three years later when you’re packing up to move.
  5. It’s also OK to just decide keeping a journal isn’t for you. I find it to be a helpful tool for my creative process, but I also got by just fine as a dancer before I developed this habit, and I’m sure there’s plenty of successful dancers out there who don’t have any interest in writing down their thoughts about dance or what they practiced today.

Personally, I find the process of keeping a journal so beneficial that I actually keep two, plus several other ongoing notebooks. I have my dance journal. I keep a separate journal for doing a modified version of the morning pages from The Artist’s Way, where I write about whatever comes to mind about any topic under the sun. I have one notebook that I use to take notes about work, one for dance classes and workshops, one just for 8 Elements, and today I just started one for taking notes in some online classes I’m taking to improve my day job skills. I’ve also been thinking of starting one for writing random stuff in Dutch (did I mention I’m learning Dutch?). It’s possible that I just keep this many journals going to give myself an excuse to buy more blank books and notebooks, though.

Do you journal? Let me know about your process!


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2 thoughts on “Your Dance Journal: No One Right Answer

  1. I tried to keep a dance journal, but I can barely keep up with my Bullet Journal. (Aww, crap, I missed another weekly, uh, monthly spread.) BUT… I have books and books FULL of lesson plans, combinations, drills, and more for teaching classes, rather than taking them. These books have proved invaluable, and it does give me a sense of my progress as an instructor. I really love the Moleskine extra-large square-rule cahier journals. I think I’m now on my 7th one.

    And I totally keep my Morning Pages separate. And freelance stuff is in another journal… Any excuse to buy a new notebook, really. 😀

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