How to Keep a Journal

 

 

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior” 

Christina Baldwin

 

Keeping a journal is a wonderful activity for your personal growth. Even though we should focus on it year- round, it is that time of the year when people begin to think of ways to make next year better. Journaling is one of many ways to accomplish that. Journaling forces you to reflect on your life on a regular basis. It becomes more and more obvious where your challenges lie when you have to put your experiences down on paper.  

But it’s not all bad news. Journaling can also serve as a great way to record your life and see how you’ve grown over the years. You might be surprised three years from now when you look back at where you stood today. 

It can be hard getting started. What do you write about? Should you use a notebook, moleskin, a word processor or something fancy like a leather-bound journal? But be careful not to let this part bog you down and lose your focus on what you are trying to accomplish.

Let’s get started: 

1. Choose your medium. It really doesn’t matter where you record your life. Each of the methods has its own advantages and disadvantages. Just choose something that works for you. 

Some type of notebook tends to be the better choice. Many people spend all day typing away on our computers. Journaling in a notebook gives you a chance to manually write something. It will also, for most people, seem more sacred or connected to write with your own hand. Computers can also be distracting. You may find yourself sitting down to do your journaling and end up surfing the Internet. See post on Information Addiction.

2. Keep it short. Of course you are free to write as much as you want. But if you keep it brief and to the point, you will find that you are a lot more likely to do it regularly. Even just a few bullet points can be enough to capture the essence of what happened in your day. Some days you may feel the need to write something lengthy about a situation, and encouter, or something that moved you profoundly, and that’s okay.

3. Schedule it! If you use a notebook, keep it by your bed or your coffee pot. That way you won’t miss it. Set a reminder on your computer or smartphone. It makes a little more sense to do it at the end of the day as you reflect on your day. But, any time is better than never. Choose a time and stick to it.

4. Don’t miss more than one day. Things come up, and it’s easy to miss a day here and there. If you miss more than one day, you will wind up missing five days before you realize it. Be consistent. It can be very difficult to go back and fill in the blanks at a later date.

 If you do forget and skip a couple of days, rely on your records. You can look back at your calendar or planner and your emails to jog your memory about how the days were spent.

5. Track your progress toward your goals. List the things that are most relevant to you at the time. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, mention related victories, missteps, and your weight fluctuations. If you’re trying to earn an extra $1,000 this month, keep a running total of your progress, missteps and how you got back on track. 

6. Keep your journal private and secure. If you believe that someone else may see it, you might be hesitant to be completely open when writing in it. This is one area that computers really outshine the other methods. With a decent password, it would be very difficult for someone else to peek into your private thoughts. A simple locked drawer or small sahe can work well, too. 

 

Before you know it, you’ll have a shelf full of your journal entries. If you write just half of a page each day would be over 3,000 pages in 10 years!

Journaling is an excellent way to record your life and track your progress. Think about how interesting it would be to read your current entries 10 or even 50 years from now. You might even want to give your journals to your children someday. Begin your journal today. A life worth living is a life worth recording!

 

Thoughts?

 

You may also be interested in doing a Goal-Setting Journal.

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stompy/6994457/sizes/z/in/photostream/

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About Martina

Servant, MD (gynecologist), blogger, writer, life strategist and fulfillment coach, seminary student, mother, grandmother, sexual assault survivor's advocate, minister, speaker, leader, occasional haikuist

7 Responses to “How to Keep a Journal”

  1. Lori Gosselin December 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Hi Martina!
    I’ve been journalling off and on since I was nine years old. I find it therapeutic and fun and insist upon a nice book (fussy about this) and a pen I like. Since my daughter and my nieces became old enough I have encouraged this practice in them. :-)
    Lori

    • Martina December 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      I agree Lori. I have also found it a good, cheap therapist. I have also been amazed at my personal growth as I look back at some of my “ancient” writings.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Tonya Schulte December 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Martina – great post! I had to repost it on our Journal in a Box facebook feed. I’ve been journaling since I was very young and have so many of my journals. It’s fascinating to look back at them and see how much I’ve grown.

    • Martina December 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      Thank you Tonya. I have been journaling for a very long time as well. Thanks for the repost, and the information. I did not know there was an Expo coming up. I will check that out.

  3. Yvonne Root December 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Very nice work Martina!

    We sometimes say that the silences, the unwritten pages, of your journal can speak volumes. Perhaps one way people who’ve missed many writing days can get back into the routine is to write about the silence.

    Often there is a lot to be learned by analyzing why you choose not to write.

    Did you know there is going to be a Journaling Expo next month?

    • Martina December 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

      Yes, Yvonne. Just like our verbal silences, those pages and moments speak volumes. It is a great idea to jot down the lesson or the event that pulled you away from the journal.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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