Somehow journaling has been cropping up (and cropping up frequently) in my life as a topic of discussion. I started doing some heavy-duty journaling a few months ago, so I certainly have a few thoughts worth sharing on this subject.
To my mind, one the chief benefits of keeping a journal (at least the way I do it) is that it forces you to think. In order to get the day’s random swirl of thoughts into anything resembling a coherent sentence or paragraph, you will have to think. You will have to be at least somewhat rational (please note the use of the word “somewhat”). In doing so, you will often see where you may have judged someone too harshly, maybe taken something the wrong way, or one of a million other thinking errors.
Also to your advantage is the opportunity to read over your past musings. Since starting my journal document on April 3rd, I have noticed a distinct change in my tone. I have gone from whiny, despairing, and a little angry to confident and (more or less) ready for whatever comes next. Nothing beats having actual evidence of your own self-improvement.
I found that keeping my journal also helped me get back into a serious relationship with my my writing voice/ mojo. We were, perhaps, not on the best of terms for a little while, but my journal helped us get reacquainted and become best pals again.
That said, here are a few tips to get you started:
Remember that it’s whatever you want it to be. Your journal can be a daily decompress. It can be a bitch session. You can fill it with your hopes, dreams, plans, and goals. You can write a narrative of your life and turn it into a memoir. The key (I think, anyway) is to use your journal as a means to examine your life and eventually improve it.
You can use whatever medium you wish. I use a Google Doc and just type my little heart out. Many use a blank book, one of those fancy Moleskin notebooks, or even a plain old spiral notebook. Just make sure that whatever you use, it’s something to which you have quick and easy access.
It’s just for you. I would suggest that whatever medium you use, keep your journal secure. Knowing that your journal is secure gives you license to be honest. Thinking that your words may be subject to prying eyes might stifle what you want to say. Being honest and real is critical. I wouldn’t suggest that you start sharing your journal either. You might start writing for an audience and not yourself.
Keep it on the regular. I write something in my journal document daily, without exception. Your lifestyle might not lend itself to daily journaling, however. I would strongly suggest a minimum of once a week. It’s important to keep up some frequency, as well as a degree of recency to the events you want to examine.
In the end, journaling is well worth a shot. Who knows, it might even change your life.