Monday, 4 August 2014

How to keep a journal 101.

So you would think keeping a journal is easy, right?


I'm here to share my thoughts on journalling and also want to attempt to share the things I have found true thus far.

I've been keeping a journal since I was eight. Sometimes I've just had one book, especially now, but I've often had a journal and a book for poetry. I keep travel journals as well. Why? Here is our first lesson.

1. Journals are about archiving.
A journal is the best way to have a snapshot into a day in the life. But it also helps capture and recapture memories and that's especially important when you're doing something exciting, fun or memorable.

2. Journals need to contain what you want to remember.
Rereading my old journals remind me that it's important to use your creative and thoughtful energy for what you want to remember, not what you should. I have huge chunks of journal entries about me being mad with people and situations that are completely irrelevant to my life now, and a few weeks after I wrote them. I've even recording down exact words people have spoken into my life - no one needs to know what you so called best friend in year nine called you one lunchtime, especially not you.

3. Don't lie to yourself.
I found that sometimes I would want something so badly that I'd lie about it - I don't care, I don't like him, I wish I was thin (okay, the last one is true). But nonetheless, journals are great places to lie to yourself and they shouldn't be.

4. Choose your audience - but mostly just write for you.
I had a journal 'Blah book baby' (or just Blah for short) that was an open journal that I let my friends read. It was fun for awhile until I realised I needed somewhere just to write for myself. Travel journals are great to share, but when it comes to what you think and feel, well there's not a lot of people you should be sharing that with. It leads to censoring yourself and that is a very bad thing to do!

5. Just write.
Seriously, don't overthink it and don't reread your previous entries before writing something down. Just do it! What's the worst that could happen?

6. You don't have to write everyday.
Unlike reading, which I strongly recommend doing every single day, writing doesn't always HAVE to happen. I've tried this with my blog and my journals and a lot of the time it would end up as 'Today at work blah blah blah*insert some boring story about a cranky customer here*'. No one wants to read that, even you.

7. Date your journal entries.
So many times I have reread something and wished I had recorded the date! Even if it just says 'August sometime', that's better than nothing.

So now I've set up some ground rules, at least rules I keep for myself, here are some of the ways you might like to journal.

I keep a Quotable Quotes list as well as putting in quotes from movies and tv shows alongside (before or after) a journal entry. I adore quotes and love to keep track of things that capture my heart in an often unintentional way.

Record experiences and conversation
In my opinion, most of your journal should be about this. Having said that, it's often really hard to decide what to put in there and whatb you might tear our a few years later. Hindsight suggests the following questions. If you answer yes to at last one of them, record the moment:
-is it about a family member or close friend?
-was it remarkable in some way?
-did it capture your heart, soul or mind?
-was it hilariously funny?
-would you look back at that moment in five years time and thing 'that sure was awesome?'

I have said before that it's important to choose wisely what you record, but if something negative helps get rid of it for you, don't be scared to write it down, and possibly censor it after. I always feel a million times better after writing or talking an issue out.

Lists and goals
As you probably know by now, I love lists. I also love goals.  I have lists about why I love things. Lists, prayers, goals, dreams, that's all journalling.

Bad poetry
I write so much bad poetry I could win a prize on (assuming that thing is still up and running.)  Poetry belongs in journals and it's often a lot easier than writing things out sentence by sentence.

I hate when someone gives me the reflective task of writing a letter you myself. It seems crazy stupid, but it kind of works. I have never done this in my own journal, but I do write letters to people because they are the types of letters you could never really send, especially if that person isn't around anymore. Letters made up a lot of my journals as a teenager, and it's nice to reread them now.

I have a splitting headache and I need Panadol. I'm out of here, but my final advice is to keep writing. Everyone has a story to tell. Cliche and true. Just like a journal entry.