Why you should keep a journal
Updated: Mar 9
Do you want your posterity to forget about you?
Journaling is one of the very core basics of creativity. It's where we organize, collect and contain our thoughts. It's a time where we get to reflect on whatever it is on our minds, whether it was the day we've had, the things going on around us, or just random musings that we occasionally have. Journaling gives us an outlet to channel those thoughts to storage for future reference.
I've gone in and out of journaling. I used to do it sporadically as a kid. In undergrad, I was really good and did it every single day. That was really fun, because I could look back on every single day of my life during those years, and know exactly what happened.
Sometimes I could find significance, like looking back to see what I was doing on my husband's birthday, comparing an experience from my past with someone else’s at the same time, and more. But also, journaling recorded emotions and feelings that I was able to look back on for guidance.
I remember, once when my brother, Scott, was going through a rough time as a kid (I was a teenager at the time). I remember thinking that I had almost the exact same problems at his age. Of course, it wasn't the exact same thing, but I was thinking similarly, worrying similarly, and similarly upset.
During the time my brother was going through this, I kept wishing I had written my feelings down. Because I didn't actually remember how I got through it. I know that it happened, but I don't remember enough detail, to really have good and helpful advice. And even if I did remember enough to have good advice, having a journal would have given me the opportunity to show my brother that I had those same sorts of feelings, thoughts, and worries at his age. It could have helped me relate to him better. Then, through the written word, I could have shown him my progress towards overcoming it.
That was a regret of mine. I wish I had kept a journal, especially during the best times and the worst times, because it would be nice to read a story of how I got to the good times, and also how I got out of the bad times.
My husband and I were a long distance couple for a while before we got engaged. Most of our communication was through letters. At that time, my journal was basically my daily letters to him. He did the same thing with me. We wrote letters every day, but we sent them once a week. We would write about our days, our feelings, and our dreams.
Then once he got back, we got married, and we were together. I dropped out of writing and journals because I had everything I wanted right there. I had my husband to talk to. I could explain my day to him in person. I had everything right there with me, so I didn't really feel any inclination to write except when I occasionally wrote in my journal about how wonderful he was.
Thus I didn't write for a while. But then I was reminded by Hal Elrod, when I read the Miracle Morning (I love self-help books!), that I needed to start writing again. I started doing the Miracle Morning every day, so I needed to start scribing. However, I was tired of my physical journal, so I found this wonderful little app called Writeaday, which is a minimalist journal. Since then, I’ve used it every day.
A quick summary of why I love this app:
It’s free and there are no ads whatsoever.
It is very convenient; journal entries can be written in bite-sized amounts.
It has a widget for writing a quick entry from your homescreen.
It has daily intentions for you to set your goals every week.
It has a reflection section.
It has tags so you can find posts in certain categories.
It lets you summarize your mood for each day of the week.
It has a daily inspirational quote posted.
It’s nothing fancy, but for a free app with no ads, I don’t think you can get better.
My many journals
I am the type of person to have many different journals for many different things. I probably have a journal for almost every topic you can think about. I have a normal journal for writing about my day, a journal of things things I like about my husband, a journal about cute things my husband does, a journal about my goals for our family, a journal about things I like about my immediate family, a journal about love and gratitude, a journal about my dreams, a self-improvement journal, and more. But I don't always touch those. I don't necessarily recommend doing this, because it’s pretty impractical, but it’s the way my mind works.
I would advise having both a physical journal and a digital journal. I am more of a paper and pencil type of girl, but the benefits of a digital journal include searchability and storage. Nothing is quite like holding a journal in your hands and writing though. I recommend small, hard back, spiral bound notebooks. That’s where I write the first draft for many of my posts on this website!
Another idea for easy journaling
I have used my calendar as a journal for years. I’m not doing it now, but for many years, I would write down the main highlights of the day so that I could remember the significance of each day. That’s actually how I was able to pin down the day Ross and I went on our first date (exactly 3 years and 364 days before our wedding day)!
In general, there is no right way to journal. Just do it! Basically, that is what you need to do. But don't beat yourself up about it. If you're not doing it perfectly or not hitting the exact goals you want, that’s fine; just do something! Record your thoughts. Whether you have one journal or 500 journals, make sure you are recording your life. That is something that has value. Your memories and experiences are some of the most precious things that you can have. Hopefully they live on inside you, but this helps them come back to your memory more easily. It helps the memories live beyond you. Even after you're gone, your journals can tell future generations about you. So make them interesting, because maybe one day you’ll have a following of interested readers!
My challenge for you is to write in a journal. If you don't have a journal, go buy one or download a free app. You need a place to record your thoughts. If you don't record your thoughts, you probably won't have very many thoughts that have a chance to mature, because our minds are not meant for storage. Our minds create things and we need to put those somewhere. Make a designated place to output your thoughts, whatever they may be.
Put your new business idea in your journal, write about how someone made you feel, write about what makes you happy, facts about the place you live at this time, and anything interesting that you might want to remember or you might want someone else to know. Get a physical journal; I recommend spiral bound smaller ones because then you can carry them everywhere and fold them over for easy writing.
Write something and have fun with it. Remember, consistency in creativity is more important than creating mass amounts on rare occasions. All you need to do is a little bit every day.