Journals Are One of the Most Valuable Life Tools Ever Created

I believe that.

I don’t just say it.

I mean it by walking the talk. I started journaling (for real) back in 1990 and since then I have filled (and partially filled) tons of journals.

My journal writing philosophy

It’s visceral. I write a lot. Sometimes for several days in a row and sometimes no writing occurs for several days. Sometimes for a minute or two a day and sometimes for more than a few hours in one day.

I am committed to inconsistency. It is because I love the wild and (many would say) crazy life, living large and recording that large life in mere moments or in great big giant chunks.

My conviction

My conviction is that learning from my mistakes is more important than trying so hard to avoid them that I have no life. So when I’ve made a honking mistake, it shares time with my great triumphs in my formerly blank paged journal.

Plus honesty

Honesty in the pages of my journal means that there are things in there that could down right embarrass me.

How I deal with that disturbing truth is two fold

  1. In the first place, there are things which I’ve written that I’m proud of and I share those with family and friends and on this blog by reading them aloud or copying them here.
  2. Secondly the things which could embarrass me will not be read until after I die. Do you know of one embarrassed corpse? I don’t. So I honestly (there is that word again) don’t care what you find out about me after I’ve taken leave of this world.

What I write

I seldom find there is nothing to write about when I grab my journal and head for the sweet spot of writing space. On those rare occasions when the blank page tries to defy me I laugh at the empty lines and begin writing about what I’m seeing or hearing or smelling in the moment. That technique has never failed me.

Some of the things I write about:

  • What I’ve just read
  • My desires, goals and daydreams
  • Something I would like to improve about myself
  • What I experienced during the day
  • Prayers of supplication
  • Confessional prayers
  • My to-do list (only recently started this and like it)
  • My grandkiddos
  • My kiddos
  • My hubby
  • The nutcase who invaded my life today
  • The great new person I met today
  • The fantastic (and poopy) ideas I have

Remembering to remember

When I’m away from my journal for one reason or another there are still ways to capture the things I want to be able to say in my journal. The three things I’ve found I use the most are:

  1. a small notebook I keep in my purse
  2. a note card
  3. any scrap of paper I can find

I’ve tried keeping notes on my computer, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Writing in my journal

The physical space doesn’t matter. I don’t need to be in a specific room, desk or chair to be inspired. Although some spaces are more comfortable than others – as you can tell from this post I recently wrote.

I prefer to write in silence. But, I can get lost in the words I’m writing and not even notice the happenings around me. As a matter of fact there have been times when someone in the family has had to get very close (like, in my face) in order to get my attention. Talk about focus.

What I look for in a journal

I’ve used several different styles of journals over the years. My decision is often made with only a small amount of criteria.

  • I must have archival paper
  • I want the journal to feel nice to the touch
  • I want lines.

I believe in pen to paper

I believe in pen to paper. As you can see from this post (and many others I’ve written,) I believe the benefits of handwritten journals far outweigh any “conveniences” associated with online journal writing. Mental stickiness is just one of those reasons.

Here are some posts I’ve written with a few more reasons

Calm down

Reasons for journaling

Leaving a touchable legacy

Dealing with the baggage of life

Farming your journal

There are even more reasons and you will find them in many of our posts. And, more importantly, you will find them in your own experience of putting pen to paper.


How do you use your journal?

What is your personal journal writing philosophy?

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.

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