Journal Writer Alert: Do Not Swim With Your Journal

Journal Writer Alert: Do Not Swim With Your Journal

Instead, let your journal improve your swim.

Whether you plan to swim for the health of it

or you want to learn to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

or you are learning to swim better simply because you enjoy water

or you feel like you are swimming upstream and you need a break

or if you plan to swim in the Olympics

or your life is going swimmingly and you want to capture the moments

your journal is your most valuable aid, resource, guide, stratagem, asset.

And your journal is one of the most flexible tools you will ever use. In order to show you what I mean I’ll take each of the swimming activities mentioned above and show you how you can use your journal in each case. Want to jump in? The water feels good.

Swim for the health of it – how to use your journal

Write about what you expect to get out of your water time. Think about things like improving cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, muscle strength, endurance, posture, improved oxygen use, stress reduction, or losing weight.

Record which swimming activities you participated in. You may include the types of swimming strokes you used (for example, freestyle, breaststroke or backstroke) or the types of games you were involved in with others. Do you participate in synchronized swimming or play shark, water basketball or other water games?

Keep track of your statistics as well as the activities. How is your blood pressure? Have you lost weight? How much? Have you reduced your stress? How often do you swim? Are you becoming stronger?

Include your feelings and observations about swimming – what you like, what you don’t like.

Use this simple formula after each exercise swim time:

What I did well


What I can do to improve

 Swim with the Sharks – how to use your journal

When you want to improve your business acumen your journal is the easiest “go to” place no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Record important customer or client information. Be sure to include what your customers are saying to you about what they want. Give space to their comments, compliments and other input.

Write about the projects in which you are involved. What is your part? Who will you work with and what is expected of team members? Include deadlines and milestones. Include your introspective thoughts concerning the project. Write about your insights, problems and solutions.

Record your ideas and strategies as well as your important meeting dates and times.

Write about your competitor’s moves. How can you use the information?

Include a list of all the things you accomplished today. Write about the most important accomplishment of the day. Why was it important? What did you learn from it? Where will you go from here? What is the most important thing you need to do tomorrow? How will you get it done? Do you need to include others? Who?

Swim better because you enjoy water – how to use your journal

You may decide to write about your favorite swimming spots or who you enjoy swimming with. Be introspective and write about why you enjoy swimming, how you first got involved in swimming. Recount and enjoy once again all your favorite swimming stories.

Make note of any unusual circumstances regarding your regular swimming routines, or favorite swimming spots.

Write about your training plans. How often will you practice? Where? When? How? What exercise (besides swimming) will you use in order to be in shape?

Include information about your coach or trainer.

Discuss all your “firsts.” First lake. First escorted swim. First 5 mile. First 10 mile and so forth.

Write about your food and liquid intakes. And, outputs (had to say it.)

Were there boat wakes to deal with? What did you do?

Enter important data. The high and low water temperatures. High and low air temperatures. Distance of your swim. Time taken to complete your swim. Goals. Duration of stops.

Include details about flora and fauna in the area where you swam.

Write about breathing, stroke control and technique.

Use this simple formula after each swim time:

What I did well


What I can do to improve

 (If you are a lap swimmer adjust the above information to fit your needs.)

Swimming upstream – how to use your journal

Bad things happen in life. They can range from slightly annoying to absolutely devastating. While your journal is not a magic book which will “fix” whatever is broken it is an amazingly useful tool for dealing with the “bad things” in life.

To begin with, your journal gives you perspective.

Your neighbor’s habit of leaving his tools laying against your fence is annoying.

Your best friend who began dating your boyfriend after you broke up with him is exasperating.

The tornado which wiped out your entire neighborhood is devastating.

Secondly, your journal gives you food for thought.

Obviously your 3 year old will someday (soon hopefully) begin using the toilet every time he needs to potty.

Yes, your coworker is on a path of trying to sabotage your good relationship with your boss.

Of course I miss Mom to the point of physical heart pain. Yet, since her death she is no longer in pain.

A third aspect of your journal is its availability for planning.

Your journal aids you in determining what steps you can take to deal with the “bad thing.”

From setting goals and planning the steps needed to reach the goals to contemplative interaction with possible solutions your journal allows you to focus. Sometimes the unraveling takes only one session with your journal. At other times several weeks or longer must be spent in order to get to the root of the problem.

When you begin to feel as if you are swimming upstream, as if all of life is difficult, hard to take and threatening to overwhelm you it is time to pick up your journal.

Using paper and ink is a good beginning for overcoming the junk you face in your life.

Swim in the Olympics – how to use your journal

Swimming in the Olympics is certainly a skill based aspect of a person’s life.

And, a person who has no or poor swimming skills won’t be going to the Olympics no matter how wonderful or exuberant his journal is.

Yet, knowing how the best trained athletes in the world use their journals when striving for the gold is useful to you when you want to build any skill you can think of. Want to learn to play an instrument? Would you like to become a better cook? Have you decided to become a better parent? Do you want to be the best salesman in the yard?

Then do what Olympic worthy athletes do and keep a “training journal.”

Here is why:

A training journal is the basic tool for tracking progress. You will also be able to see the patterns that emerge which allow you to figure out what does and doesn’t work for you.

You will be able to chart the important variables which affect your particular skill.

You will enjoy increased motivation and inspiration.

Your journal will provide a place for goal setting, become an accountability tool, provide a means for evaluating and measuring progress, afford you means to learn from your mistakes, build your self confidence, assist you to plan your next steps, and most importantly help you stay in touch with reality.

Here is how:

Write in your journal consistently recording the information mentioned above.

  • Write your goals
  • Chart your important variables
  • Look for actionable “next steps”

By reading through your journals you will be able to mark your progress and be better at staying in touch with reality.

And just as those who are swimming for the health of it use the simple formula in their regular “workout recordings” so can you. Remember the formula?

What I did well


What I can do to improve

 Life is going swimmingly – how to use your journal

Writing about the good things which are happening around and in your life may have to do with grandiose moments like your graduation or wedding, fun times like your visit to Disney or your trip abroad, romantic junctures having to do with horse drawn rides in the park or receiving flowers, or simple points of daily life.

Even though you may begin with a basic enumeration of the time or event your journal also affords you the luxury of recounting your personal feelings and perceptions.

Write with total abandon about the wonderful things in your life.

  • Record your hopes and dreams.
  • Write about interesting and enlightening conversations.
  • Describe your ideas and inspirations.
  • Tell what you think about a good book you’ve just completed.
  • Jot notes about the wonderful bit of live theater you’ve been privileged to attend.
  • Discuss your personal heroes and talk about what you would like to emulate from them.
  • Revel in one of your favorite pieces of music or the latest recording you’ve just heard.
  • Take time to write about the interesting characters who crossed your path today.
  • Write about your celebrations and traditions.
  • Record your milestones – births, marriage, graduation and so forth.

Don’t forget the small moments.

  • Baby’s firsts
  • Finding coins in the dryer
  • Paying the bills – made possible through your own or another’s hard work
  • The quaint restaurant you and a friend discovered
  • The softness of your sheets
  • The flowers your neighbor brought from her garden
  • A love note written in the dust on your coffee table
  • A coworker’s praise
  • The knock-knock joke your first-grader told (and forgot the punch line)
  • The raise you received
  • Your 27th customer – helping you know the 100th is on his way
  • The repair of the stopped up sink
  • The bus being on time 4 days in a row
  • The courteous driver who gave you the parking spot you both wanted
  • Finding the perfect gift for Aunt Tilly
  • Realizing you kept your foot out of your mouth through the whole day
  • Seeing all the baby quail as they snuck beneath the bush to rest
  • Realizing how much your parents sacrificed for you
  • Noting how much your children love and respect you
  • The happy face your customer displayed as she left your store

Savor the joys in your life. Write about them.

When you take time to look back through your journals and as future readers join you in seeing the roller coaster of emotions, the points of growth, the everyday pieces of your world then the pages will be brought to life. The regular recording of the mundane and the routine sets the scene for the unusual or the unexpected events which are bound to be a part of a well kept journal.” — from How to Create the Accidental Journal Writer

Now you know how to let your journal improve your swim

Go ahead, jump in, the water is grand – but leave your journal on the chair. OK?



Be sure to take advantage of the Journal in a BoxTM informational newsletter sent about every two weeks. You are bound to find more ways to let your journal serve you as you swim through life’s ups and downs.


As a lover of words, pens, paper and the dictionary I'm a natural for journal writing. But, I wasn't always faithful to the task and had to learn the hard way. Some trial and error as well as input from my journal writing friends helped move me along. I have a burning desire to help people who want to use and get the most out of their journals and diaries. I see journal writing as a self improvement tool and a way to avoid costly mistakes, bad relationships and my stinky-self. Finding my kindly self is part of the journey which keeps me writing. I Journalate and so can you.


  1. Yvonne,
    This is a hilarious yet practical take on using our journals to keep track of what we did well and what we can improve. I love your creative life analogies with swimming, both literally and figuratively. Whether we’re swimming upstream or just having a ball floating on our backs, journaling is a great place to record it all and learn something in the process!

    I have chosen your post, Journal Writer Alert: Do Not Swim with Your Journal, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 6/22/12 for all things journaling on Twitter; I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in Refresh Journal, my weekly e-journal:

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday at 5 EST/2 PST for all things journaling on Twitter with a new topic each week; it’s been great having folks from Journal in a box with us on the chat!! :)

    Thanks again for practical and insightful post on swimming with or without our journals. ;)

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter

  2. Thanks, Dawn.
    How nice of you to choose this post. I had a great deal of fun writing it.
    I would love to be in on another #JournalChat Live with you and the gang. Hopefully my schedule will shift allowing for it more often.


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