Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Do you keep a journal? If no – why not? If yes – what kind and what do you write in it?
Jamie Wallace: I’ve kept journals since I was seven years old. I don’t mean that I’ve written every single day, but I’ve been pretty consistent over these past forty years. I’m honestly not sure what first inspired me to keep a journal, but I’m guessing it was my mother’s doing. I do know that once I started, I was hooked. I’ve kept autobiographical journals, dream journals, poetry journals, idea journals, nature journals … you name it. And I’ve saved each and every one.
Though the massive amount of hours I’ve spent writing in journals has, at times, stirred doubts about the usefulness/value of journaling (is this time spent scribbling with no real purpose a waste of precious minutes?), I always come back around to my steadfast love of the practice. Almost five years ago (five years?!?) I penned a post here listing 10 Ways Journaling Makes You a Better Writer. Reading that piece over today, I still stand by it 100%. I will probably journal to the end of my days. I have NO idea what anyone will want with two tons of old journals when I’m gone, but I’m going to write them anyway.
Diane MacKinnon: I’ve been journaling since I was 11. I know exactly what (who, actually!) inspired me to start keeping a journal: Harriet the Spy, from the book of the same name by Louise Fitzhugh. I loved the idea of writing down my thoughts and opinions and, as a twin with three other siblings, the idea of having something that was just for me, a private place to write whatever I wanted, was very attractive. I’ve continued to journal ever since. Not every day, although I come pretty close.
I’ve experimented with different types of journals over the years. I always have a lined notebook that’s a regular journal, but I take notes in it, and write blog post ideas in it. I’ve also kept a gratitude journal, a thought of the day journal, a list journal, a travel journal, and scrapbooks that always include a lot of journaling.
Since January 1st, I’ve been keeping an art journal. It’s really my planner but I’ve added lots of little journal boxes to it and I’ve been adding little drawings of the weather and words that represent the day, etc. It’s been fun and I end up writing different things in it than I write in my regular journal.
I know I’ll keep journaling as I find it a great way to know myself. The dialogue that happens in my journal always creates movement, reflection, and resolution–something I find much harder to get when my thoughts are chasing themselves inside my brain!
Deborah Lee Luskin: I started keeping a journal after reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and I began the entries, “Dear Kitty.” I was about eleven, and I’ve been journaling ever since, though the purpose has changed from expressing pre-adolescent angst to a kind of writing meditation and memory aid, where I often make notes toward essays, posts, stories.
There’s no question in my mind: my journal is pure therapy. It helps me discover what I think, and a place to exfoliate feelings and ideas to better examine them. And I don’t keep just one: I start my writing day with an electronic journal; it’s a great way to arrive at my desk. I also carry a day book: a simple, wire bound notebook into which I write whenever and wherever I am – sometimes a single sentence, sometimes the title of a book I want to read. I also write letters, some of which I send.
Wendy Thomas: I don’t journal (I know quelle horreur! ) I’ve never been able to sit down and write without a purpose (a deadline or a specific topic.) That’s not to say that I don’t constantly take notes about my life (which is a type of abbreviated journaling, I suppose – sort of like the twitter of writing.) Like Deb, I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go and I am constantly jotting down brilliant (at least to me) life thoughts. But do I ever sit down and write a complete “Dear diary” entry? Nope. It’s just not my cup of tea.
Lisa J. Jackson: I journal daily. One is a Gratitude journal where I write at least 5 statements a day that start with “I am grateful for”. I write the phrase and let whatever wants to come next flow onto the page.
I also do a daily entry in a 5-year journal. I’m on the 4th year of this journal and it’s interesting and fun to read my entries from the past 3 years — a “what impressed me enough to write about on the same day”.