Writing Memoir

Do you keep a journal?

do you keep a journal

For a long time, I’ve been keeping a morning journal. Originally, I did it as a necessity and it’s been my constant, true friend. Perhaps it’s self-indulging, as some might say, but as far as I can tell, it has helped me throughout my days and provided an anchor when I felt astray. I’ve been keeping a journal for many years – let’s just say for as long as some of you readers have been alive…egats.

When I first started to write I didn’t realize how beneficial it would be. Journaling was simply the place where I could speak uninterrupted, freely, openly and air out my grievances with family, friends, school, work and most of all, myself. Sometimes it was a little “massaging the missing” but most often it was “massaging the misery” out. I think this developed in me the ability to self-reflect, express my thoughts and let feelings go.

Keeping a diary (to be old-fashioned) was my choose-your-own-adventure and therapy all warmly wrapped up into one delicious turnover. I’ve tried to write strictly, a gratitude journal, but it’s not the same. All I ended up doing was limiting how I wrote, pretending I was fine when I wasn’t, and basically feeling miserable.

I think it’s really important to free write. Now, Julia Cameron thinks it’s best to write non-stop, without thinking, just sprinting on the page nonsense to possibly get at the good stuff. But I prefer to write whatever I like without the pressure of a time limit and or the rule of never stopping. I’m a fan of pauses. Thinking, writing what I need to do, what I dreamed about, what happened yesterday, what’s irritating me, whatever, ideas, I write for enjoyment. I think morning writing will be a bit of a regurgitation and recapitulation without forcing it.

Sometimes I write a little and sometimes I write a lot. I suppose the ball point is getting into the habit so that it comes easily and naturally. People tell me I’m a good writer. I have a strong voice. It has to be because I’ve been journaling for so long. Reading helps, so does paying attention and having a quiet mind, but I have to attribute any talent I might have to writing consistently and honestly for myself.

Discipline, self-discipline, of course, can’t be overlooked. Writing is a discipline, too.

writing-from-the-road
Writing in my hotel room. [Bangkok, 2015]
I do look back at my entries from time to time. They serve as records of what I did, how I was thinking, ideas I jotted down. Journaling is also a form of time traveling. Yes, I’m alive. See I wrote it down here.

Do you journal?

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41 thoughts on “Do you keep a journal?

  1. I jot down notes and have a number of half-filled Moleskine notebooks lysing in various places but I’m not a routine diarist.

    I’ve tried and I never stick with it. Like not eating cake.

    Hmmmm…cake…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to journal in my teens, then slacked off an never returned. These days I make it a habit of writing at least 500 words a day on any topic that comes to mind and feel I have something to say about. Sometimes these pieces of writing involve writing my thoughts about myself, what I did, what I didn’t do…so you can call that journaling.

    Like you, I’m a fan of writing pauses, which usually involves writing slowly for me and questioning myself why I’m telling this story, why it has happened and what can be done about it. It sounds complex, doesn’t it…but writing is complex anyway 🙂

    It’s so easy to be lazy and say we’ll do writing later since it’s not the end of the world if we don’t. Getting into the habit is challenging, but if we love it enough then we’ll do it. Ever since I started writing 500 words a day, I feel more fulfilled as a writer, probably because this forces me to put on my writer’s cap each day, rain or shine.

    The last photo is well shot, Lani. Is that yoghurt in a bowl?

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    1. When I was staying in BKK, I knew that I would not want to get up early to find breakfast and I’m one of those folks that needs coffee and food, preferably before I face the world. So I got coffee, granola, yogurt and those paper bowls and spoons so I could eat sustain myself.

      I really love the Gretchen Rubin quote, so I say stay with the habit. You have loads of discipline and so do I which I think is important for growth and progress as a writer. This is why I try to do yoga everyday as well…it’s important to me to be flexible and develop long-lasting habits that pay off.

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      1. I’m one of those who can function without proper breakfast but just a banana. Very bad I know. Must do it less.

        I think you’re more disciplined than me, Lani. You got a book out already. A true mark of a writer and author 🙂

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  3. I never put down any notes. I just didn’t get into it I guess as I know many others who keep a journal already since their childhood. I believe it is most likely due to the fact that I am a very lazy person :p

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  4. I have a few journals (moleskines) for different purposes. I keep a small one in my purse for “ideas” –quick things I notice or think about at any given time. I have a medium size journal for “learning”–things I am interested in learning more about so I research subjects on the internet and jot notes. The other journal is a health/well-being journal where I keep all the various health-related subjects I want to remember like what vitamins do what, how much to take, healthy food ideas, exercise instructions. My last journal is the one that feeds off the small purse-size journal–here I expand on those thoughts and ideas I had during the day. I don’t write in any one of them every single day, but they are there, like a good friend, when I need to.

    I enjoy reading about other people journaling especially with pen/paper. As much as I love my computer, my paper journals are special. A few colored pens make it even more fun.

    I enjoyed your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. You’re the journal queen! I just have one for the house and one for my purse (like you) for notes when I’m out and about. I do love to buy them and like to have a ready stock on hand. Hahahaa.

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  5. I’ve kept a journal since college. I have stacks of journals in my closet. I like writing messily in longhand. I tried making entries on a computer for a while to save space but there’s something about scrawling my thoughts in pen that I enjoy.

    I agree with you. Even though I love Julia Cameron, I don’t like the idea of writing by someone else’s rules. A lot of my entries would be unreadable to anyone besides myself but Journaling is an excellent way to get to know your own mind. 🙂

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    1. I tried the computer, too! It’s not the same, not the same at all. I have boxes back in the States and by now I have a new collection abroad. Like a few special books from childhood, I don’t think I could ever part with them. They provide their own reading material 😛

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  6. I have kept many journals over the years. I used them to vent about work, how moving to a new place was challenging, and swearing like a sailor when I had health issues. Mostly they were about life stuff I guess. I did have a special one with hand made rice paper so thin I had to put a piece of cardboard behind the page and only use a specific pen to write with. That one had quotes from books like Richard Bach and thoughts that would pop in my head about listening to the world wake up as the sky would turn to lighter colors.

    When we moved to Thailand and could only take two pieces of luggage I went through them again. Except for the rice paper journal, I realized the contents made me sad and depressed. I didn’t want to take those memories with me into new life adventure. So, it was with a light heart that I tossed them! I had precious little space and wanted to take some crystals that were more important to me and also tossed the rice paper one.

    At the beginning of this year I saw a post that suggested putting a note in a jar every day and then read them at the end of the year. I chose to put a note in a box once or twice a week depending on what stuck in my mind. Just the other day I saw an old woman on the back of a scooter. Her dark weathered face was full of stories I wanted to hear. She was so beautiful.

    I would love to find another special one for some new quotes!
    Thank you darling Lani!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed hearing about how you got rid of your journals for a fresh new start abroad. There is definitely something powerful in that. I like the jar idea, too! I’ll have to remember that one…maybe for my birthday or something. I can imagine what a good story you could create from the notes in the jar! xxoo

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  7. I would say I write everyday, but I don’t journal. Whenever I call it “journaling” I seem to not be able to follow through, but just writing to write I love. Yeah, I don’t get it either. I’m weird, I guess. Great post.

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    1. Fair enough. Call it what you want! I had no idea that you were an everyday writer, Corinne! Your blog is full of amazing photos and travel info. I suppose you must write about your adventures…you seem to be everywhere at once 😉 xxoo

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  8. Ahhh, I am so glad we have connected, Lani. We have so much in common. I wish we could get together for coffee! I have always kept a journal, too. Sometimes you just have things you NEED to get out. It’s a necessity! I also tried a gratitude journal, too, and I absolutely agree with you – it’s limiting. And there are days when you have other things to say or rant and rage about. Because it isn’t always puppies and rainbows.

    You are truly an amazing writer. 🙂 Big hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. It’s funny when you put yourself out there you never know who is going to respond and how! I didn’t try to guess, but I’m glad to hear that you also journal.

      When I don’t, especially after a couple of days, I definitely feel it. Thankfully those days are few and far between. Everyone needs a mental outlet and I suppose this one is ours 🙂 Big hugs back!

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  9. No I gave up journaling about 15 yrs. ago. The last type of journal I did was a cycling journal. It merely tracked my daily mileage + cumulative mileage. Occasionally chicken scratches on what I saw on bike. Too much effort for cycle tour trips. I was ready to shower/fall into bed / eat ravenously. But in the end sleep lots before cycling the next day.

    Kept the cycling journal during lst 3 yrs. after returning to cycling.

    Tried a journal in fits as a teenager, then later in university. I couldn’t read my own bad handwriting after awhile. Very repetitive writing and boring sentence structures.

    So blogging actually has helped sharpen my personal writing. But again it’s not a journal.

    Kudos to your natural dedication, Lani!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see the value of an exercise type journal although I’ve never tried it. I probably, like most women, tried to keep track of what I ate, but again, it didn’t work. Although, if I had to keep track of how certain foods made me feel, I’d probably do alright.

      You can’t read your own writing! Hahhaaha. That won’t do. Since I’ve been journaling for so long I definitely notice how much my handwriting has changed – thankfully, it doesn’t do that anymore. I think I found a style that I like. My handwriting has to please me.

      Thanks, Jean!

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      1. I’ve never tracked my daily food intake –it would drive me insane and make me obsessive. As for the cycling, it was a great motivator at the time. Helped me realize how much cycling in terms of distance that I could actually do.

        In university, some profs. complained about my sloppy handwriting during tests. I know that I was downgraded because of illegibility. This was before the days of computers…

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  10. Journalling is something that I’ve never really done, even when times have been difficult, I would rather store it all in my head than let it out. I have always been that person that believed things were better left unsaid, especially feelings. I’m still that person, but I’m just older and more at peace with it, than I was at 15 haha!

    Saying that, since I started blogging, I’ve had a bit more of a desire to write things down, not feelings mind you, just things, stories from the day, places we went, what we’ve been watching on TV and what not. Since I thought I might like it, I set myself the goal of writing a little journal entry every day for a year. I started off with a simple planner and noted different things from the days on each day, but I found myself needing more and more room haha.

    This last week I switched to the app Day One, it’s so much better! I really enjoy journalling on my computer instead of with pen and paper. I can write as much or as little as I want and I find that my writing is better and I include more, since I have unlimited space. Plus I can add to the entry all day. Ok, that sounds just like pen and paper, but I just really enjoy working on my computer haha 🙂

    ~ K

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    1. Whatever works! I’m just not as modern as you 😉 These days when I type, or open a Word doc, I type with intention so it has a different feeling. It’s like work, you know? So, when I handwrite, it feels like I’m writing for me, it’s private and I don’t worry about grammar or flow or anything like that. Thanks for sharing. I love these conversations 🙂

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  11. I don’t journal, but I wished I did. I find it a little awkward to just do stream-of-conscious writing about my daily life or musings, even if nobody else will read it. I feel like I don’t have a lot of deep thoughts worthy of jotting down, haha. But I do agree that writing a lot will improve your writing and voice. I feel like I don’t write enough (only for my blog, really), and so for that reason, I want to try to write a little everyday, no matter what it’s about.

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    1. That’s interesting that you don’t feel like you write enough as a blogger. I think many writers aspire to write more, but for bloggers, I figured they feel their blogging is enough. So, I hope your everyday writing turns into something more and fulfilling for you – no matter what it’s about. Cheers ^^

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  12. Lani~~~!!!

    I couldn’t agree more, writing is so important. Sometimes I think that I don’t need to write anymore, that I have my blog and that can substitute… but the problem is: we all need a private space for our stream of consciousness, and that’s where the journal comes in.

    I love how you actually WRITE a journal every morning. That is such a great habit. The other day i ran across an adorable notebook, and even though I thought: “Who uses notebooks nowadays?,” I was so captivated by the design I bought it and decided to make it “my book.” You know, for all the random thoughts that fly through my head.

    I did a stream of writing, which was literally just brain diarrhea, and it was so liberating. I need to write more, and this post inspired me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great. I’m very glad to hear it. You know how cute the notebooks in Asia are so I’m happy to use them for my everyday writing. A lot of them are unlined which I prefer, too.

      Hope the writing turns into a habit. It sounds like this would be a good time for it, in your life as well. Sending you hugs from Thailand, happy writing 🙂

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  13. I started keeping a journal when I was 11, but in the past few years I haven’t written in it often. Blogging mostly satisfies my semi-daily writing urge, but I still journal for emotional release. The act of writing lets me express and forget – and sleep. I almost never re-read mine since they’re just ramblings (and my cursive is incomprehensible) but it would be fun to dig out my teenage ones sometime.

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  14. I used to keep journals (with long journal entries), but mostly I wrote sad things in them. I get that it was a way to express and purge and all of that, but I never wanted to go back and read them because I didn’t want to re-live those moments.

    Now I have the Happiness Journal, which is a 5-year journal, with five entries per page, each for a different year. It’s great because there’s only room to write a couple sentences. And I try to focus on the more positive things that happened (hence the name, duh). It’s more manageable for me (and less intimidating) than a “real” journal. It’s also fun/cool to see what I was doing on that day the year before.

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    1. I could see how giving yourself a goal or aim can keep you focused. For me, it didn’t work. I needed to purge along with celebrating the good stuff. That being said, I’ve definitely had those pages and pages of self-pity and loathing and whining that was depressing and no one needed to see it, let alone me, unless it was to embarass. So, I’m glad you found something that works, b/c I love journaling and I think it’s so valuable! 🙂

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  15. I’ve been Journaling for over twenty years now and when I look at old entries I am always amazed at how sometimes I write a lot and sometimes I write so little.

    Haven’t figured out the pattern but it always either fills in gaps in my memory or jogs me to remember things forgotten

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    1. Absolutely. Sometimes I look back and wonder, why didn’t I write more??? And other times, I’m groaning inwardly wondering why I was complaining so much or why I was so obsessed with him. Heh, heh.

      But overall, love it. It’s a beautiful record in all its flaws for sure. Thanks!

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