Sunday, April 18, 2010

What Is This Journaling You Speak Of?

This post originally appeared on my previous Journal Keeper blog, which never really got off the ground.  No one can ever say I don't recycle!

While some of you have been writing in a journal or diary for some time, there are still those who have never put pen to paper to pour out their thoughts. So today I'd like to speak to them directly. You "old-timers" are welcome to stick around. There will be doughnuts and coffee afterward.

To the newcomers, first let me say Welcome Aboard! You are beginning a journey that will be fun and enriching and enlightening. So let's get started.

What is a journal, you ask? Merriam-Webster says that a journal is a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept for private use. I'd say that's pretty close for our purposes.

Your journal can act as a diary where you record what happens in your daily life, such as what the weather was like, what you ate for breakfast, or what your three-year-old did to the cat. While a journal can be so much more, this purpose can be very useful. Think of the fun your grandchildren will have when they go through your cedar chest packed with aged notebooks with yellowed pages, and read about the minute details of your life. And seeing it in your own handwriting will add another level of interest and meaning. Think of the diaries written by soldiers and farmers and prisoners many years ago. Those entries, which may have seemed mundane to the writer at the time, have given us great insight into what life was like for them.

Aside from being a record of your daily life, your journal can serve you on a much deeper level. Recording your hopes and dreams and wishes can help you better focus on what you want to achieve and accomplish. It can be a great place to define your goals and map out how you are going to get there. And along the way you can record your progress to monitor how things are going. On those days when things just don't seem to be going as planned, you can review the entries in your journal to remind yourself of the progress you have made and the hurdles you have overcome.

Your journal can also be a place for refection. I have found, and it has been proven, that writing in a journal during tough times can be therapeutic. It helps to get all of the "stuff" out of your head, and getting it down on paper is the next best thing to crying on someone's shoulder or smacking someone in the face (which, by the way, this blogger does not recommend). I have found that sometimes after I have vented in my journal, I'll go back days or weeks later to reread the entry and find that what I was frightened of or mad about turned out to be not that big of a deal after all.

Let me finish by saying that your journal can be anything you want it to be. Do you like to draw? Your journal is perfect for that. Do you like to collect Garfield cartoons clipped out of the newspaper? Your journal is perfect for that. Do you like to write clever haikus? You guessed it, your journal is perfect for that.

Later I'll break down each of the different "types" of journals. And I've got some awesome tools that will help you map those goals and vent about your newspaper-stealing neighbor. We're going to have a lot of fun here. Until then, grab that favorite pen and composition notebook, turn to that first crisp blank page, and begin.

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