As we changed the calendar to a new year, I found myself looking for a new journal to start the year this week. This was just one of my many journals.
Yes, I have many.
How did this happen? And why do I do this?
This is something I wondered myself.
I currently have five journals that I use regularly. I have some that I will write in them on certain occasions or whenever I feel like it. Some of them really have no purpose at all. I just got started and won’t stop writing in them.
Here are the journals I keep:
Daily Handwritten Journal – I specify “handwritten” because most people say it’s more personal to see it in your handwriting than on a computer screen. I tend to agree and I try to keep this one as a brief overview of the day and what I did. Nothing emotional, just a few lines about the day.
Digital Journal – This is a more detailed journal that I keep and many times is what I call my own personal social media where I post comments I keep to myself and more emotional things I am working through.
Sports Journal – I keep a record of games I watch and my own personal report of the games. (There is a lot of pain written on these pages)
Prayer Journal – Although it isn’t always a daily entry, I do sit down and write a prayer when I get some time. It’s amazing to look back at past entries and see where I am today.
Photo Journal – I take a photo or image each day that captures something about that day since they say that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Why do I do this? Honestly I don’t know why but the older I get, it helps to refresh my memory about when and where I did things. I am not writing it for anybody – just me. Sometimes it is therapy and sometimes it’s just a better outlet to vent something rather than post it on social media.
My earliest journal writings are around 1989 with some spotty one-liners or entries in a calendar I kept but nothing like a daily journal. Somewhere in the 1990s I started keeping a more frequent journal.
If you have never journaled before, here are some thoughts about it:
It requires discipline – especially if you plan to keep a daily journal. When I first started doing it I would make the entries at the end of the day and found that it was not a time my mind was fresh so I experimented at different times of the day and found what worked for me. It has changed over the years. Right now my best times are on the van to/from work, during lunch or while waiting.
Digital or Handwritten – is always a huge debate for me. Digital is good BUT when your files get corrupt or you can no longer use a particular file format then your screwed. I have many years of entries that are corrupted which I am unable to restore. Digital is more convenient and easier for me because my handwriting is terrible and I tend to write less if I have to do it by hand. My mind is too fast for my handwriting.
How much detail do you write about – is something you need to think about. If someone “accidentally” finds your journal do you really want them to read it? If you are going to completely bare your soul and never want anyone to accidentally read it you’d better get you a lock and key.
What are the best apps for journaling? There are many options out there which makes it convenient to have it on all of your devices so if you waiting in line somewhere you can pass the time with making an entry. Some of the best apps I have found are DayOne and Memento. The most important thing to consider is the options for exporting your entries. At the very least, you need to find one that will export to text format. When I have used these apps, I tried to make it a practice to export my entries every month to my local hard drive (which is backed up).
Do you HAVE to write everyday? No, you do not have to write everyday. I’m just OCD and don’t like to miss a day now but don’t be discouraged if you miss days in your entries. That’s life and sometimes you just don’t have the time. If there are times I am away from my journals, I will just scribble something down and enter into the appropriate journal at a later time.
The one thing I have learned about journaling is that you simply do it your way and you tweak it as you go. No one is going to grade your paper or correct your grammar. Just be yourself and don’t stress about writing it for anyone but yourself.
There may be a day when I am older that I will have time to sit down and read what I have written and when my memory starts to fade I will still have these entries to refresh my memory about the story of my life.
If you decide you want to start journaling, you haven’t missed your chance since January 1st has passed. You can start anytime and do it your way.