Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the lovely and talented Hanna Andersson, a.k.a. iHanna.
Hanna hails from Sweden and is a prolific artist, writer, and art journaling teacher.
(Plus she has a ridiculously cute kitten named Smilla.)
My goal with these interviews is to introduce you to your fellow journalers, perhaps open you up to some new ways of journaling, and to illustrate that there are as many ways to keep a journal as there are journal keepers. You can check out the full interview series here.
Now, on to iHanna.
How did you get started journaling?
I started to write in my first journal when I was eleven years old. I guess it was because I had this pink notebook with a lock and a very clear message printed on the front. It said “Diary” (Dagbok) so that is what I used it for. Since then I have never stopped.
How long have you been journaling?
Hehe, not to reveal my age here… but from that first time until today… that must be about 23 years of filling blank books.
How often do you write?
I write a couple of times every week most of the time. I am not rigorous about it because I know it is a habit that I will always come back to. I don’t worry too much if I don’t write for two weeks either, but I seldom take longer breaks because my brain slows down too much if I don’t write. Plus, I miss my journal friend if we don’t spend time together.
Where and when do you write?
As a teenager I wrote late at night in bed, but since I read Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way I often write at the kitchen table while I have breakfast, sipping my coffee and taking my time to awake while I write. Writing wakes up my brain and I often write down a few ideas of the day ahead.
These days I bringing my journal with me everywhere, in my handbag or backpack. In this way I can write when I have time on the commute train, at the library or in waiting rooms. In later years I’ve also become very found of those moments at nice cafés where I can sit a whole hour in silence, talking with my dear journal. When I was younger I wouldn’t have dreamt of sitting alone in a café but now I love doing just that.
Do you have a preferred journal or notebook?
I like my journal to be a beautiful bound notebook that I enjoy holding and looking at, but I don’t stick to a specific brand because I love to try new things. If I find an interesting notebook that has a boring cover I might alter it and do a collage of pretty papers on the cover.
The most important aspect about my journals is that they have a hard cover (because I bring it with me it needs to be sturdy) and the pages should be blank (because I prefer to write without the guidance of lines, and I also draw little doodles on the pages).
Blank pages give you more freedom to think. Plus I want my journal to have a sewn binding. Glue-bound books tend to not hold together very well when you write daily. And what could be worse than loose journal pages falling out on the bus?
Do you use prompts or free writing or a combination?
My brain is so full of thoughts and ideas that the hours of the day are not enough to write all of it down. I write freely from my own mind because when I do sit down to write, I want to concentrate on my own stuff. Though I have used journaling exercises, too, on occasion.
I love to make lists and plans, so I did do quite a few of the Journaling Saves journal prompts that you wrote to help us enable big changes in the series Tips for Quitting.
Editor’s note: I totally didn’t pay her to say that.
Sometimes I also try to “talk to myself” and separate the voices of negativity from myself. I then write as my Inner Critic, not my true self. For example when I want to write about the crap that comes up in my brain I will start with the sentence: “My Inner Critic has a message and it goes like this:” and then I can write how bad I feel with more freedom.
I should have more discussions with my Inner Coach too, that is also an interesting way to listen within and move forward.
Have you ever found it necessary to take a break from journaling?
Just as with any of my friends friend sometimes we spend a lot of time together, sometimes less, depending on the situation. Sometimes life keeps me busy and then there is a hiatus in writing, but the necessity is always the opposite: I need to come back to journaling.
Has journaling contributed to any important changes or events in your life?
I would say yes, it has helped me in many difficult situations in my life. Though it probably is me who seeks the changes it sometimes feels like it is my journal who guided me to the point where I can see and embrace that change…
What has surprised you most about journaling?
How committed I am to it, and how important it is in my life.
What’s your biggest journaling roadblock or hurdle?
When there is a lot of things happening in my life I sometimes don’t write for a few days even though I know I want to record those events. Then it sometimes feels difficult to come back to writing because I have this idea that I should write everything down chronologically, and that is just too much in one sitting.
Sometimes it helps to make a quick list of all the events and skip all the details, sometimes I’ll sit by the computer and crank a few pages out because writing on the laptop is quicker and that will clear my head. Sometimes the best thing is just to move on and start with the “now” instead of looking back too much.
Advice for journaling newbies?
Commit to the page! Pick a notebook and decide that you will write every day, five days a week, for a couple of weeks so that you get into the habit. It takes time to turn writing into a habit but if you keep at it, even when it feels difficult, you will cultivate a new habit that you will benefit immensely from! And maybe, after a few weeks, you will have transformed into a daily writer and then you just don’t want to quit.
If you don’t fall in love with journaling after those few weeks of journaling this practice might not be for you and you shouldn’t stress yourself about it. Try being creative in other forms or document your life in some other way, like snapping photos more often.
Anything else you’d like to share?
With journaling you have a record of the past and a bridge to change in the future. To me my journal has always felt like a friend, and in many ways it feels like it helps me think, make changes and new plans.
I write about a lot of creativity on my own blog and your readers might want to check out my category Keeping a Journal where I have posts about my journaling love, a few reviews and peeks into my diary. I also recommend my tutorial on how to make a Patchwork Notebook Cover.
A huge thank you Kristin, for starting this great site! Journaling Saves has become one of my favourite blogs this year, so I’m honoured to be featured here. Thanks.
Well, I am absolutely honored to have you, Hanna. I hope everyone enjoyed this interview!
Folks, be sure to check out Hanna’s blog about creativity and art. She also has a fabulous newsletter and a beautiful book called A Creative Year that you should totally get. As if that weren’t enough, you can also buy colorful blank journals and collage art in her Etsy Shop. Sheesh, girl. Save some talent for the rest of us!
If you’re a journaler who’d like to share your story, drop me a line and we’ll make it happen.