The keeping of a personal journal has been a pursuit of human society for many hundreds of years. In times past men and women of learning, studiously kept a record of their days, their achievements and their dreams. We owe a great debt of gratitude to each one of them as we have gleaned much insight into the lives of those in times past from many of those journal entries.
For some people, the keeping of a journal is a natural extension of their everyday lives. How many of us have lifted the family Bible to discover small snippets cut from the newspaper, flowers pressed between the pages, envelopes with letters or pictures tucked away safely for future generations to discover? I certainly have found such treasures in the most ‘ordinary’ of books on the shelves of secondhand book shops and at garage sales. It always comes as a surprise and delight to discover them and then I feel a certain sadness that somehow these treasures have ended up in the hands of a stranger.
The unexpected gift of these objects has been a richer understanding of our desire to record and keep important memories and items and while tucking these treasures into the pages of a book isn’t exactly journaling, it is a component of this amazingly creative and satisfying pass-time.
There are a few basic skills when learning how to journal, some of them are:
Make the time and space to do it on a regular basis. Whether you are keeping a dream journal, a garden journal, a baby journal, travel journal or a personal journal of any kind, this one step will make or break your experience. If you have to go so far as to make a ‘date’ with yourself – do it. At the very least, spend some time once a week to look through your calendar or diary and record the highlights or low lights of your week. Even after many years, I’m an irregular writer in my journal, but when I do write and commune with my wonderful companion, the value I receive from this is immense. It is always well worth the effort.
Begin with something you are passionate about. This makes it so much easier to write regularly, the words and ideas can seem to flow without effort and you will enjoy reading back through the pages of you journal entries. I have more than one journal because I like to keep my gardening knowledge (successes and failures) separate from my personal and spiritual growth conversations. I’m sure you will develop a process and style that works for you.
Use materials that Inspire and Motivate you: My journals are ALWAYS beautiful to look at and to use. Likewise my writing implement. I have a preference for a certain type of pen, a certain colour and a certain texture to the paper, This adds greatly to my enjoyment of the writing process and when looking back I can remember what it was about that particular book or pen that attracted me. Layers of enjoyment will build a strong relationship to your journaling process. Find out what you like, experiment with different things until you find the right combination of elements for you.
Learn from others: So many times at the beginning of my journaling adventure I longed to peek inside the pages of other peoples journals. What did they do? How did they do it? I was fortunate that some of my friends were willing to share some of their pages with me and I was introduced to the idea of drawing and painting and collage and colour and doodles in addition to the words which I was writing. This immediately reminded me of the newspaper cuttings, pressed flowers and pictures I have always found inside the pages of old books and this idea of adding such visual texture to my journal was so enticing I began right away. I am so grateful to my dear friends for opening my eyes to these new possibilities.
There are many reasons to keep a journal. There are many ways to keep a journal. If you really are concerned that you don’t know how to journal, there are many sources of inspiration and motivation is only you will open your eyes and your heart to them. I have recently discovered many books on the subject as well as a number of inspiring examples that have been posted in the Internet. Use these resources if you feel stuck or lacking inspiration and I’m sure it won’t be very long before you are enjoying keeping a journal of your days, your dreams, successes and triumphs.