Journaling

I started keeping a journal when we were on vacation many years ago, as a way to remember what we did, where we ate, etc. The second time I did that, I continued to make entries after the vacation was over and that evolved into a fairly consistent practice of journaling.

I was inspired by Cherie, who has always kept a journal. I’ve never been as diligent about it as she is, but it did eventually become part of my regular routine.

Many of my journal entries were written while I was waiting for a flight or riding on an airplane. In other words, when I had down time that I could use to capture thoughts.

It’s interesting to go back now and read some of those long-ago entries. The way I lived then was in many ways the polar opposite of the way I live now. Many of the things that worried me greatly then are things I can’t even recall the details of today. Those old journals are good reminders of why we quit living that way.

Nowadays I don’t keep a journal any more. I have one that I write in once in a while, but it’s a document on the computer rather than a book, and when I make an entry I usually just dash off something about the events of the day. No more long reflective musings while in some miserable airport.

There is value to journaling, I think. That’s because there is value in serious reflection. Of course one can seriously reflect, without writing down one’s thoughts. But I found the discipline of hand writing it out helped me sort through whatever was on my mind. And reading the entries years later helps me remember things I would otherwise have forgotten.

Just thinking this morning about whether I should return to a regular practice of journaling.

Any thoughts from current or former journalers will be appreciated.

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21 comments on “Journaling

  1. bobraxton says:

    Either one of you or any reader of your blog (here) may have access to my two (consecutive) hand-written journals – typed (I have done) about 77 pages in Word format, not quite that many pages when “poured” into Google docs. My gift (still proofreading but my typing is pretty “almost perfect”). I have a Gmail account and Drive and Doc(s) so anyone who uses Gmail if you send me yours I can “share” and you will receive the “Invitation” in your Gmail. If you do not have G-mail then also directly; and I can attach for you (a Reply to your non Gmail): mine: B o B r a x t o n AT O u t l o o k DOT c o m

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  2. Joanna says:

    My journal is my blog. Admittedly there are times I cannot write down all the details about an incident or something and occasionally I have written an addendum that goes in the same file on my computer as copies of the blog. My hubby often goes back on my blog to find out what we were doing the previous years at the same time. It is a good chronicler of what we do, not necessarily my thoughts though – although sometimes it is 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • bobraxton says:

      Personally, what I write with ball-point pen and paper is very different from what I write at keyboard

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        I find that the voice from a handwritten document is more present, and perhaps more emotionally charged than that flowing from a keyboard. For that reason, the first draft/outline of my novels is always hand-written. I’ve funnier in hand written stuff, by typed documents are better reasoned. Go figure.

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      • Joanna says:

        I’ve almost forgotten what a ball-point is. I have to do so much writing anyway for various research projects and papers that I feel I am nearly always on the computer and so it is not too big a deal to write it down. It also means that I can find it when I need it 😀

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    • Bill says:

      I enjoy your blog and others like it. My blog is a fairly good record of things I’m doing, but I don’t post the kind of reflections that I used to journal about.

      I recall being really excited when I found my great-great grandmother’s journal from 1886. I read through it, anxious to learn new things about the family and her thoughts on the issues of her day. But nearly every entry was a summary of that day’s weather and a list of the things she did–mostly related to sewing. Interesting, but not what I’d hoped for. My blog is more like her journal and less like the one I used to keep. I think some descendant generations from now who discovered might would find it dull and disappointing. 🙂

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      • Joanna says:

        Thank you 🙂 Glad you like my blog. You do post some thought provoking quotes from time to time. I think if they were to read the comments they might get a broader picture of your thoughts

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  3. Laurie Graves says:

    I keep a “Nature Notes and Other Things” Journal. The other things are quotations from books and articles I am reading and my thoughts about them. There are lapses, but I keep at it. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to sit on my patio, have a cup a tea, and write about the goings on in the backyard. I am easily entertained 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. avwalters says:

    From time to time I have kept a journal, and I have also written “morning pages” as suggested in a book called “The Artist’s Way.” The journalling has morphed into my blog (which, admittedly has been sparse of late.) The morning pages–two legal sized pages of hand-written drivel, written as soon as I woke up each day–with whatever popped into my head, turned out to be a form of emotional problem solving. I enjoy journal writing/blogging. I hated morning pages; they were the raw, personal stuff, the ugly bits of me that needed attending. However, they were instructive, and ultimately more useful than the journal. Something about writing them early, before coffee, before I’d pulled on the comfortable old shirt of my persona, turned them into a wild, hot-headed argument with my inner self. Ultimately, they led to my leaving my marriage and largely abandoning a life that didn’t really speak to me. I think that corresponds with your recognition that the journal entries of your past seem like another, far away life. I still blog but the morning pages days of my life my be over. I’ve resolved the anger and frustration that came with living my life on somebody else’s terms. Now I’m free to comment on the world, mine and the outer world, in a more dispassionate way, and to find the gentle humor in both.
    I suppose the question of whether to to a journal begs the question of why you’d want to. It’s an internal communication. You already write regularly on your blog. What part of the conversation (maybe with yourself) is missing that you’d like to reflect on? Would this be satisfied by writing letters to others? Who is your audience? Is putting pen to paper a way to formalize those thoughts, so you can know them, and address them in the day-to-day? As with all endeavors, the first thing is to define the objective.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      Thanks AV. This is exactly the kind of comment I was hoping for, and it synchs with my experience. Cherie writes in her journal every morning first thing while having her tea and she is a fan of that book, so that must be what she is doing.

      Thinking about your comment causes me to wonder if my old journaling practice was caused by my discontent. Now that I’ve made the changes necessary to live a more authentic and satisfying life, I don’t feel the urge to journal (in that way) any more. Makes perfect sense to me. Now I’m happy to blog (and only occasionally rant).

      Thanks for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bobraxton says:

    [self-development]: we encountered this circa 1975 (early 1976): http://intensivejournal.org/index.php

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  6. Sue says:

    I used to keep a journal–very detailed. Now I have one of those Day-Runners which allow about a paragraph or two per day. I like it–and it’s a nice reference. The only thing I worry about is leaving behind a STACK of them at the end of a lifetime, and “The Boy” going through that angst of –do I throw them out or do I read them?? There were days that it was my place to release anger. I’d hate to think of him, all these years later, reading that and feeling bad……………………….

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  7. My mum kept a daily journal from my early childhood up till she died. I have all the volumes. She used a ballpoint :), and usually filled the page, but not always. And sometimes she skipped a few days, or wrote a few after the fact. She used Brown’s daily journals (I can’t find them on the internet now), they were hard cover, with a page for each day and lines to write on. I have to tell you, when she was gone, and I was able to crack them open, I thought I was going to thoroughly enjoy revisiting the past, but it didn’t turn out that way. Her writing was a reflection of her thoughts – sometimes just events of the day, the weather, funny or happy things that happened, but sometimes her emotions were reflected in the words, and sometimes she expressed her thoughts about her family and herself – hopes, fears, expectations, disappointments. That could be hard and humbling reading. Towards the end, I almost felt like I was invading her privacy. I’ve kept the journals – how could I throw out 20+ years of writing from someone I loved so very much? but I don’t know if I can visit them again. Which is a pity, because in between the emotionally difficult pages, the diaries are full of facts about what my parents did around the farm – who they hired, how much things cost, what machinery was used, etc. My hope is that my children will find value in them and because they never met her, will likely have the emotional detachment to see the journals differently than I do. Did she intend them for others to read? I don’t know, I really don’t. But she did keep them all, so perhaps.

    I keep a journal when I’m travelling. It’s pretty light stuff, I keep my thoughts out of it, as I like to share the writing with my family. Like Joanna, my blog, when I”m writing it, is a journal of things relating to life on the farm. Otherwise I don’t journal.

    Lucy Maud Montgomery (author of the Anne of Green Gables books) kept a daily journal that could go for pages per day or be a short weather entry for a day. Her biographers believe that she initially journalled as a discipline for becoming a writer, and to vent her feelings in a household where emotions were frowned upon. She later clearly intended the journals to be viewed by others because she re-wrote them, editing and cutting out as she saw fit. She kept them up all her life, and they are an extraordinary chronicle of her life and her times, well written and rich in cultural detail, humour, and emotion. They have been published by her biographers in 4 volumes and are a national treasure.

    Sorry for being so long winded! I just realized!

    Liked by 1 person

    • bobraxton says:

      “hope is that my children will find value in them and because they never met her, will likely have the emotional detachment to see the journals differently” – the writing from my own father would fit into around a dozen pages. He lived to be age 72 (born 1916). The mother of my spouse graduated from college before her 1925 marriage and she left four volumes (thick scrapbooks). Her two daughters assembled a fifth one following her 1997 death (age 92). The writing is not so much “diary” but rather Journal in the sense of writing Memoir. She attended several classes.

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    • Katherine Hadley says:

      How very inspirational!! What a legacy for your children & grandchildren.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      As I read through my old journals recently I thought about what my family might think of them, reading them after I’m gone. It wasn’t so concerned about things that might perceive as critical as I was of things they might perceive as omitted. Why did I write pages about fences or tension caused by some case I was handling, but mention nothing about some significant event in the life of my children or wife? Why would I write in detail about my professional life yet write so little about my personal life? Etc.

      John Wesley kept a journal that he intended for public consumption someday. But he also kept an encrypted journal in which he could be more candid. Clearly there are values (and risks) in both approaches.

      These days, things like blogs, social media and digital cameras may be replacing the role that journals once played.

      All good food for thought. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. bobraxton says:

    (repeating): The Progoff Intensive Journal® Program for Self Development (spouse and I encountered at turn of the years 1975 into 1976.

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