Whenever I speak with people about journaling, I tend to get two different responses—sighs and groans. It is as if journaling has become almost like going to the dentist or getting a colonoscopy. It is this thing that we do not because we want to but because we feel we must. Being reminded of it is about equal to the dentist telling you to floss more often. We have some vague sense of obligation to do so, yet the actual act of doing it isn’t pleasant. Below are some tips and ideas for making journaling more meaningful:
- Set aside your preconceived ideas about journaling. Journaling does not have to be done every day or even every week or month to be helpful. I only write a general journal entry when I need to work through something. Writing it down and then referring to it the next day with new eyes helps me to weed out the real issues.
- Make it individual to you. Some people tell me they don’t like to write, so don’t. Put your feelings into a work of art or music. While poetry is writing, sometimes it is easier for people to write poetry about a subject than a traditional journal entry. Use a tape recorder (or whatever the current technology is for recording your own voice—am I dating myself?).
- Write a letter. Sometimes when I’m struggling with an issue that relates to a friend or relative, living or deceased, I’ll write a letter. By the time I finish the letter, I usually have a sense of resolution to the problem. Sometimes I keep the letter a day or two but most often I shred it after writing it. I can’t think of a time I’ve actually sent the letter. The process is more about self work than relationship work. Yet it does help with your relationships because you are better able to communicate when you know better what was really bothering you about the situation.
- Find other forms of journals. I keep a garden journal, which I so enjoy. I love reading back through years of entries to what worked and what didn’t in my garden. A scrapbook can be a form of a journal. I keep a Motherhood Journal. It is a pre-made journal that prompts you with questions about your life and past. It is a way of leaving our daughter, any future children, and any future grandchildren a story of my life. I have a good friend who keeps a journal and pen by her bed to keep a record of her dreams. Keeping a gratitude journal is a good way to focus on the positives of your day. Even having a blog is a form of journaling!