As far as I’m aware of most parts of the magical community are advocating keeping notes or diaries in one way or the other. The recommendation is omnipresent: work and keep notes.
Honestly, I hate keeping notes. They remind me of my habit as a High School student: Starting somewhere and then continuing on a different page or in a different notepad altogether. And shortly before an exam trying to put everything together to make at least some sense of it.
So I’m not a huge fan of that but actually it’s necessary. Magick is experimental or at least it should be. You need to know where you made the right choices that were leading to the desired results. And you need to know why you failed. Failure is inevitable and it is a good teacher.
So how do I coerce myself into being disciplined enough? At first I thought I needed a ‘special notepad’, looking mysterious and appealing. It didn’t work. Then I tried with very plain looking notepads that could easily be confused with those I had been using during my years at university. Didn’t work either. Then I tried using my laptop but as I’m not the only person having access to it I stopped pretty soon (the reasons for that are quite complex and may be revealed later, it has something to do with a relationship with an atheist who’s nevertheless pretty nervous about my practice). And then I found the perfect solution. I use a little notepad, not too pretty and not too plain, big enough to write into it without the letters becoming too small to be deciphered later but with a soft cover so it can easily fit into any of my handbags.
Still, I was pondering why it had taken me that long to figure it out and I came up with a theory: Our magickal diaries might be the most intimate ones we’ll ever keep. For me personally it took quite a few attempts because of an internal issue behind my reluctance: I didn’t want to leave traces. I didn’t want anything written that could later be used against me. Because even after many years I’m still fucking nervous about the things I experience and it takes courage to write things down because ultimately it could end up in the hands of the wrong person.
Nevertheless I encourage everyone of us to take that risk because without it you won’t be able to retrace your development later and being able to confirm and to validate your experiences is something that will motivate your workings even in your darkest moments. Think of your notes as a map of an unknown territory you’re exploring. You have a few tools at hand and work your way through uncharted landscapes. And one of your most valuable tools are your notes that are written records about how far you’ve come and maybe also provide some idea about what may cross your way soon.
So, trick yourself somehow into keeping notes. Whatever it takes, it’s worth it. You are charting your own journey which is something completely unique to you. No one can give you guidance (except for certain beings but this is a different topic). Be kind to your future self and invest the time it takes.