Saturday, April 14, 2012


It might come as a shock, since I blab so much on here, and have a facebook and a Pinterest and countless other places to express myself, but I journal, everyday. I have done since May 2003. Barring nights with migraines, I have a journal entry for everyday for nine years.

Members of my church are encouraged to journal as we are a record keeping people (seeing as the scriptures that the world reads are essentially a divinely inspired journal). I'm not saying my journal should be seen as scripture, but it sure is helpful to me and can be helpful to my children and posterity later.

But let's put the future of my journal aside. Journaling is a wonderful way to vent at the end of the day, organize your thoughts and feelings, record funny/touching things that have happened, record not so great things as to avoid them later, say what you really want to say that you might not want to online or aloud, just scribble something because you're so so tired.

Some of my entries are very long, some are literally almost illegible: "I'm SO tired, going to bed". What do I write about? Anything. Sometimes it's a rundown of my day, describing someone I met, reviewing a book or a movie, ranting about boys (don't lie single ladies, you would too), talking about my future plans, talking about what happened in the past. Journal topics rarely don't come easily to me, but I've often heard that that's an issue for some. Mostly I'm pretty full of myself and like to reread what I have to say so I have no qualms about blabbing, but I think more modest and humble types might not feel comfortable dedicating a whole volume to themselves.

I highly recommend journaling, so here're my tips on how to get started:

Get a journal or open a word document on your computer.
I experimented with computer journaling a little in my younger years, but sharing a family computer put that to an end, and I just haven't picked it up since I got my laptop. The one warning about computer journaling I guess would be to make sure you back it up.

Handwritten journaling I think is fun because I can see my attitude and personality through my handwriting. I can tell when I was really tired or really deliberate and it's come to my attention over the years that I've developed a handwriting just for my journaling that I don't really use anywhere else. Handwriting also encourages you to really formulate your ideas before you write them down so you're not crossing things out. You can free write and ignore punctuation etc, get a journal w/o lines and just go to town with a pencil, but if we're talking about posterity here I'd recommend a more coherent journal with a pen that won't bleed or fade. I use a ballpoint.

I've used these journals since almost the beginning. They're available through my church and come in all sorts of sizes. They have family trees in the beginning, and are very simple inside. I choose to change colors at major life changes of my life. Middle school and high school in red, navy for undergraduate, and now I'm onto brown in my in between years. Not sure what the next life change will be to switch my color again.

Pick a time to write:
I prefer to write at the same time everyday, right before bed. It's a part of my routine and it works for me. If you don't want to write daily maybe make it a Sunday afternoon activity. If you really want a regular journal I can't stress having a specific time to write enough. If you don't care about it being irregular and patchy then journal whenever you feel like it, but ideas will be the freshest and in the greatest detail right after the fact. I can't tell you how many past entries surprise me with facts I don't remember anymore.

Like I said, I've never really had too much trouble finding things to write about. Maybe for your very first entry write about why you've chosen to start keeping a journal. You can write about your day, your family, your friends, your crushes, your spouse, your kids, your school work, the weather, your dreams, you vacations, anything really. I've been meaning to use journal prompts lately to get some more variety in my journaling. Here's a couple of sites with journal starters.

I reread my entries almost immediately. I check for grammar etc, because I do plan on sharing some entries with my children, and when I'm gone they'll be fair game. Other than checking for grammar and spelling I reread my journals fairly often. I like to flip through my current volume to get a feel for my personal progression in the past couple of months. I like to keep the last volume with me for a gauge of my year. The rest of my 15 volumes I keep at my parents' house. I've never had an issue with privacy so they're on my shelves. I was home recently and they were an invaluable resource while writing my The Remains of the Day entry. Other than looking up specific events they're also good to flip through for old times sake. One day when I'm married I'm going to have the best record of meeting and dating my hubby. Who knows! Maybe he's already in there and I don't know it!

Be you!
I do intend for my journals to be read someday, but for now they're just for me and so I write absolutely from the gut. If I want my children and grandchildren to know me and learn from my triumphs and mistakes I have to lay them out how they happened. Sometimes this isn't fun, and I have avoided recording certain things, but it really helps everyone in the long run if we're honest with our journaling and ourselves.

Gosh, this is a long entry, and I didn't mean to rant, but I just love journaling and try to get everyone I know to do it! If you've journaled and have stopped then pick it up again! Like I said, I've journaled for 9 years everyday through high school when I thought my life was busy and in college when I know my life was busy, and I'll journal through grad school and parenthood when I know I'll be busier than I've every been. My life is never so in order, even through the chaos, as when I journal. It's the busy times when I write lame entries that have been the craziest and horrible. You can do it! Just do it!

Here's a blog with a lot of journaling topics, some that differ in opinion from me, but you might agree with!

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