How to Begin – and Keep! – Writing a Journal
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How to Begin – and Keep! – Writing a Journal

Keeping a journal is a great way to record your adventures, your thoughts and dreams, and your everyday activities. Whether you start blogging, where you can share your thoughts with the world, or jot notes in a book that you stash in your desk drawer, the mere act of writing something down helps you remember, process, and analyze it – and maybe even understand more about yourself.

Writing a journal creates a snapshot of your life at any given moment. It’s something you can look back at and recall where you were at a specific time – what you were thinking, doing and feeling. Are you going to spending the summer visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark in the country? Write it down. Your first impression of the stadium as you walked through the gates. The look on your friend’s face when the guy behind him spilled beer down his neck.Include pictures, maps, ticket stubs, rosters.

Falling in love? Tell your journal about it. That first disastrous date at the zoo, where the giraffe spit on her head.The second date, where she gave you a second chance.The date tonight, where you’re going to ask her THE question. Talk about your fears, your hopes, your dreams.

Or maybe keeping a journal is just a daily record of what you did and when. Fertilized the lawn. Ate at that new restaurant. Went to the parent-teacher meeting. The mundane moments are worth noting. If nothing else, they provide a quick reference for the important, but eminently forgettable, bits of our monthly or yearly routines – oil checks, flu shots, and so on. So, now that you’ve got a sense of what to include (hint: anything you want!), how do you begin? Simple. First, make a few decisions:

  • Pen and paper, or electronic?
  • Public or private?
  • What is your goal?
  • How often do you want to write?

The traditional pen-and-paper route may seem less daunting to those of you that consider yourselves to be technologically impaired. There’s also something that’s satisfying about the physical act of writing a journal – especially when you’ve filled a page, or even an entire notebook. Or, if you decide to take the computerized route, there are countless blogging sites available. Blogger and WordPress,have been around for a while; Tumblr, Posterous, and Pinterest are relatively new blogging platforms.

All of them will help you with the initial blog setup, and how to share with your friends and the world at large. Remember, though, that anything you put on the Internet IS public, so be careful out there. A third journaling option would be to go mobile. Most smartphones have voice memo or similar dictation tools that will allow you to record your impressions whenever you want. You can then have your recordings transcribed –Verbal Ink can help you with that – and then upload the text to your online journal. Of course, starting a journal isn’t terribly difficult – but keeping it up-to-date and maintaining it after the initial novelty wears off is. Here are a few suggestions for sustaining your interest and motivation:

  • Be interested in what you’re writing. It’s hard to spend your valuable time onsomething that doesn’t captivate you. If you find yourself losing interest, think about what topics might interest you more.
  • Set a specific time to write. Take a few moments over your morning coffee, or as a mid-afternoon break, or right before you turn off the light at night, and write. If you commit to a specific time, it becomes a habit, instead of an afterthought. Pretty soon, you’ll look forward to those quiet moments where you can sit and reflect on your day.
  • Be honest. Unless your journal is designed to record the biggest lies you can think of, you’ll quickly tire of spending time on something that’s not true.
  • Read it occasionally. What good is recording your thoughts if you don’t go back and read them from time to time? Whether you’re amused by reliving your escapades or surprised at your insights, it’s time well spent.
  • If you’re blogging,consider sharing your blog. Getting comments from friends – and complete strangers – turns your blog into a conversationinstead of a monologue.

In the end, your journal can be anything you want it to be, because it’s all about you. Make it as personal or as impersonal as you want. Write about whatever you want. Write in it as often as you want. There are no rules – well, except for one: you have to actually write in it, and regularly. Good luck, and happy journaling!