This can be a fulfilling activity. Read on and learn more about what journal keeping is and then decide if it’s for you.


A journal is defined as; a daily record of news and events, sometimes including entries that are personal. Many have done this and called it a diary, but for most this is likely to be done in spurts. Recording formal activities can be vital for a busy executive, but this would be about official things like meetings and phone calls, feelings, family, and friends. Former presidents of the U.S. have vast libraries dedicated to the kind of information that would be included in a diary or log.

The usual personal diary records facts for a given date; such as, wisdom tooth pulled, Mary – bike to Chandler park – tennis, Andy groomed. They can also be personal and revealing. Phil didn’t call, I’m so sad, etc.

The entries in a diary are mostly facts. They are not meant to be deeply personal or revealing. They are informative, and maybe useful but that’s all. There are exceptions like Anne Frank and George H.W. Bush who were exemplary diarists, but a lot of what they left us was journaling.

Lynn Nelson in his book about journaling “Writing and Being” Taking Back Our Lives through the Power of Language says, “This book is about people……..writing [to accomplish] intellectual, psychological, and spiritual growth.” He describes in his short book in ten sections useful techniques for recording your feelings in your Journal. I think of Journal in this case as a proper noun. The reason is that this is a log describing a real person including their deepest feelings, opinions, beliefs, their very being, an alter ego. It is not done according to a table or outline and is not done for the public. It can be scratched, scrawled, misspelled, and chaotic as it is put down. If it should ever become public writing, corrections can be made then.

Perfection at the initial writing should never get in the way of recording how we feel, and not everything, or maybe anything, that you record is suitable for the public. That is for you to decide.

Recording in a journal is best done, according to Nelson, in a quiet setting regularly but not necessarily according to a schedule. It could be daily, weekly, monthly or whenever you decide, and it may be sporadic. The writing should begin after a short time of mind clearing. A good way is through 5 minutes sitting quietly and concentrating on your breathing. This sets the tone. There are no rules with journaling but lots of suggestions for the process:

  • Talk to or about yourself however you feel comfortable
  • Start with facts, then go to feelings
  • What you write is private and safe – don’t hold back
  • You start. The process will take you where it will
  • If you prepare but don’t write you accomplish something
  • Avoid making any judgments
  • Write to escape whatever you have bottled up”
  • Your journal can be a “word picture” that you envision
  • It is circular not linear. You always come back to yourself
  • If you must write hurtful things as catharsis, destroy them
  • OK to write about yourself in the third person
  • Write freely
  • Find ways to love yourself
  • Be aware this is ultimately a spiritual work.

This process is serious and may be one of the best gifts you ever give yourself. You can do this on your own.

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There are hundreds of internet postings on journaling. We will share with you other ways of journaling.

If you have an idea or thought you would like to share about your experience with journaling, please leave us a response below.

1 thought on “Journaling

  1. Journaling is a great way for people who want to write to get started–or, as Lynn says, a way to “enter the river.” It is a low stakes activity and helps the writer find little ideas that can grow into bigger pieces. Lynn Nelson, author of Writing And Being, was a close friend and teaching colleague at Arizona State University. By just following some of the writing prompts in the book, writers can begin to tap into their memories to find something worth writing about. My favorite is the “I Remember” poem (autobiographical poem) in Chapter Six. Anyone can do it. It’s four lines (or, more if you wish): I remember…I remember…I remember…But most of all I remember…”

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