When I think about journaling, the first person that I think of is my sister Anna. I think of her writing intently with journal in hand, everywhere. I think of my freshman year at BYU when she found a journal she liked at the BYU bookstore and kept asking me to buy a new one for her every couple of months. I think of the detailed blog she wrote when she was a freshman in college and the piles of filled-up journals sitting in her closet (she says she has boxes full! At least 15!). I’ve always admired her dedication to journaling and her ability to write with an interesting voice, so, I wanted to share her years of journaling insight with you!
Here is an interview I did with Anna to see if I could learn her journaling secrets.
When did you start journaling regularly? Why?
The first journal I remember keeping regularly was all because of my mom. She decided that all the kids in the family would keep a “Summer Journal.” She made it as exciting as she could with colored paper, and other things, but I HATED it. In fact, I hated keeping a journal for a very long time. It probably wasn’t until around 8th or 9th grade that my attitude shifted. One evening I was reminded of those early attempts of journal-writing and decided to read through them. It was so fun! I loved looking back on all of the fun things we had done. I found that as I was reminded of certain activities, other memories came flooding as well. I enjoyed the experience so much that I felt it was a shame not to allow myself the pleasure in the future. 😉
What kinds of things do you write about in your journal?
I like to focus on the blessings that I’ve experienced throughout the day, whether they were kinds acts others did for me, or those that I was able to do for others. I’ve found, however, it can be helpful to work through difficult thoughts or emotions by writing them out. I’d say there’s a fair mixture of both.
What have you learned from writing in a journal?
Oh man. I don’t even know how to answer that question… everything. I’ve come to a lot of truth by writing about what happened to me each day and also the thoughts I’ve had. Sometimes things don’t become cemented until you write them down.
Why is journaling important to you?
It is so rewarding to see how far I’ve come. One of the most important things to me is knowing that I’m progressing; that I’m getting better. It’s hard to see when you’re looking at just one day at a time. I’ve also been able to look back, with my husband, at what I was thinking when we started dating! Haha!
What tips would you give to someone who has a hard time writing in a journal?
I hate to say it, but just start! Make a goal to write at least something every day for a month. I’ve heard that if you can do something for a month, it becomes a habit and you can keep going more easily after that.
Another tip: Find a way of journaling that works for you. If you like to draw, add doodles (or even just use drawing as your medium). If you like poetry, do that! If you like making lists, list whatever you’d like. Your journal is your private place. Use it as a place to let out all your fears, feels and falterings. Let it be your safe haven if you need to.
And also another tip: Don’t get bogged down in the details. When I first started writing in a journal, I tried to write every single things that happened to me during the day. That is not necessary. Pick out the things that were most important to you and, depending on just how important details were to the event, write more about them.
Why should I write in a journal regularly. Convince me.
Greater peace of mind. You can now have a place where you can organize your thoughts and take as long as you’d like to figure things out.
It can be a good place to center your thoughts on Christ–use journal writing as a time to recognize the miracles He’s placed in your life. You can also write notes from church or from your scriptures reading.
Have a favorite book? Write it in your journal. Months later when you’re trying to figure out what it’s called, you’ll know.
This is one of the only ways your grandchildren or other posterity may be able to get to know you. I hope that my children and my children’s children will be able to feel close to me after I’m gone and hopefully be able to learn from the mistakes I’ve made.
How can I stay motivated to write in a journal?
Remember why YOU do it.
You can do hard things.
Reward yourself- If you write in your journal every day for [insert previously designated amount of time here], go get some ice cream. (I love ice cream- that would definitely be my reward).
Mmmm. Ice cream. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely more motivated to write in my journal. I love what she said about just starting and journaling in whatever way that makes sense for you. Besides spending her time writing awesome journal entries, Anna studies Vocal Performance at BYU and hopes to bring others closer to Christ through music. She also just got married to her true love in November.
How do you journal? What have you learned from it? Or, if you aren’t super consistent (like me), what are your journaling goals?