owl in winter

owl in winter

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Keep a Journal

Do you keep a journal? As a writer, do you believe it is important to do so?

I have kept a journal since I was a teenager. Of course, in the teenage years my ramblings were more of a "Does that boy in English class like me" type of thing, but the point is, I was memorializing my instant thoughts and experiences. That is important for a writer to do.

There will never be another moment of clarity like the moment right now. Memories grow dim, circumstances become enmeshed with other circumstances, we forget half of what we mean to keep and so on. You get the picture.

One reason I started a serious journal several years ago was to leave my sons some idea of the people they come from. So much of my family's history, particularly on my father's side, has been lost to anquity. I can't do much about that now but I can leave them with what I know. It is important that they know their heritage.

As time goes by, I find I journal about practically everything in my life. Why and who cares? Well, I do. I suppose many people step away from journaling for fear that something they've written will be read by someone who might judge them, and that could happen, of course. But don't discard journaling due to the fear of someone else perceiving you as human. I think you might be a most unsuccessful writer if you did that!

Journaling releases tension. I no longer have to carry the turmoil of the day or the situation or the heartache with me. Once I commit it to paper, it is outside of me, sort of like a good belly-aching cry. I can then move on to more positive things.

Journaling also builds writing skills and don't think it doesn't. The more you engage in it, the higher your writing skills become. What better place to work than in your journal where you can write about anything at any time, raw, uncensored, no reservations. You can even write about writing. Journaling builds discipline, and writers need to be disciplined about the craft.

Also, within journaling, you may discover a germ of an idea, something that has legs and can breathe and explode into a successful story. There is no doubt in my mind that this is entirely possible.

These are just a few reasons why keeping a journal is important. What are the reasons you keep one?


  1. Just a few days ago, I was actually contemplating the idea of starting a journal. I know how therapeutic it is, but I am still debating.

    Great post, Yvonne.


  2. I keep a journal because my brain leaks; my forgetter works overtime; and my memories dim. It doesn't take much of a "prod" from re-reading my journals to bring the forgotten to the forefront in glowing detail--I just need that "trigger."

    Good post, Yvonne--hope it's motivated someone.