Keeping a Journal 3: Why Would You?

August 6, 2014 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Culture, Experiences, Mental Health, Philosophy, Writing, Writing and Life | 6 Comments
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journal

My entries in this series on keeping a journal so far are: What Is A Journal? and My Journal.
What I’d like to consider now is the question, ‘why would you keep a journal?”

Many folk have no inclination at all to keep a journal. They either see no value in it for themselves, or they dislike writing down their thoughts, perhaps for others to see. I thought I would do an internet search on not keeping a journal.

After the first ten pages of entries, I gave up. Every site that came up in those ten pages was on articles that advised people to keep a journal, the benefits of keeping a journal, the types of journals you can keep, and how to go about keeping a journal. There were none about why not to keep one.

Famous Folks Montage why journal

Because there are lots of articles and blog posts that talk about why it is a good idea to keep a journal, I thought I would go through a dozen or so of them and compile a summary of the reasons so many people feel this is a good thing to do.

Here are the top twenty reasons that most writers agree upon (not necessarily in order) that anyone should keep a journal.

10-reasons-to-keep-a-fitness-journal

To Help You Remember: Most people cannot remember what they did or where they were on a particular day. They cannot bring to mind names and places from the past. However, if they have written it down somewhere accessible, like a journal, reading what they wrote many years before can bring an event alive again.

Stress Release: Writing down your gripes and grievances can get them out of your system in a way that doesn’t involve putting others offside.

Clarify Your Thinking: writing provides a method of working through issues that is open and free from the criticisms of others.

Gain Insight Into Yourself: to know yourself; what makes you tick; what you like and dislike; what presses your buttons;

clare-josa-10-reasos-gratitude-journal

Solve Problems More Effectively: Writing down the pros and cons of an issue, or writing down possible solutions, can lead you to a solution more easily and effectively than simply stewing over it.

Give Direction and Focus: Keeping a journal is a good way to work out what your goals are – both short and long term.

Keep You On Track; Provide Encouragement: Once you have identified your direction and goals, you can keep a record of how you are going at attaining them, or how you may need to change either your direction or your methods.

Create a Writing Habit: Writers, especially, can gain benefit from simply writing every day, or at least regularly. This habit can be extended to your creative writing, giving you discipline you may not otherwise have developed. Writing regularly will also improve the quality of your writing, and help you refine your writing voice.

Writing in a journal

Safe Environment: Journal writing is a judgement-free zone. You can be just who you are and write about the things that are important to you. You do not have to worry about anyone saying : “Yes, but…”, or “What a stupid idea!” You can even write nonsense if you like.

Write About our Life: You can jot down what happens in your day-to-day life, even though it may seem trivial at the time. They may eventually become something more than you expected. You come back to these jottings at any time – to see what has changed, how and how it has changed or not. You can use your journal as a basis for stories – memoir, family history, social history.

from-journal-to-memoir

Enhance Your Creativity: A journal is the perfect place to free-write. Through free-writing, you often come up with ideas and inspiration that your more regimented or stressed self would have blocked off. Those ideas can then incubate and become something wonderful.

Find Your Strengths and Weaknesses, Your Skills and Resources: By doing things, you find out what you can do. By pushing your limits, you can see what you are capable of doing that you hadn’t realised. Your journal helps you to clarify these strengths – or weaknesses.

12 benefits of journaling

Mental Health Benefits: Writing about the things that worry you, or working through your decisions on paper can apparently have positive effects on your health by reducing the physical effects of stress on your body. Journaling can also help you to face your fears and to work out ways of facing them.

Encourages Positive Thinking: You can keep a Gratitude Journal that will help you focus on the positives in your life.

Journaling Through Divorce

Source Material: As well as being material for use in life writing, your journal can be a great source of material for your other writing: poetry; short stories; characters; plots; themes; etc.

Record Your Dreams: Your journal can record your literal dreams and/or your life’s hopes and dreams.

Philosophising: In a journal, you can bring up any topic, question or dilemma that comes to you. Then you can write about it – either just your own thoughts, or the thoughts of others after doing research.

7-reasons-to-keep-a-dream-journal4

A Practical Resource: If you keep a work or professional journal, you can record information that may be useful or relevant to you in the future. It is an investment in your professional development.

Spiritual Journey: You can keep a journal specific to your own spiritual journey, working through your doubts, identifying your beliefs and recording those quotes or readings that have helped you along the way.

Track Specific Aspects of Your Life: There are many kinds of journal you can keep. I have seen over twenty types listed in various places. These can help you to keep tabs on specific activities. Some of these might be inspiration, diet and exercise, gratitude, writing, memories, arts and crafts – painting, photography, drawing, scrapbooking, cooking, etc.

writing journal

Do you keep a journal? How does it help you?

© Linda Visman

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6 Comments »

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  1. I love journals. I keep a garden journal to record what’s going on in my garden through the different seasons, and include photos, drawings and recipes in it. I love looking back through it, and it is a good resource for my writing, to see what is in flower at certain times of the year. I also have an art journal, which I don’t work in nearly as much as I would like. I tend to have spurts of creativity and then get caught up with other things.

    • I’m afraid I can only keep up with one journal, Kristah. My scrapbook suffersfrom neglect too often too!

  2. I do keep a complete journal of my exercise routine daily, but I like to think that my blog is my journal…

  3. I have kept a written journal for a very long time and then just this year I stopped. I
    think I hit a wall or block but I can’t bring myself to write. I am keeping key happenings on a calendar, even keeping an art journal is hard for me. I love the color and layers. I love the artists that do it. We have been going through some very hard things and that’s when one should keep a journal. To see the end of something…But I have experienced a complete stop. It’s almost feels like I’m burned out. Maybe I need to move to a simpler style and get the clutter out of my brain. Make everything more simple and less of everything in my life because I just can’t deal with it any more.

    • I think that sometimes, writing things down, especially problems, creates a negativity which can become pervasive. That is, unless we also write down solutions and possibilities as well. Hard times are especially good times to write your journal, but can also be a bad time to do it. I still can’t work out if it is a good idea or not sometimes.
      However, perhaps you could change the way you write about things. Perhaps write lists of problems and, alongside, possible solutions. Perhaps a list of things you love or are grateful for. A different approach may bring the value back into your journal writing. I hope you can work out a way to do that.


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