Sunday, August 26, 2012

12 Tips for Keeping a Journal

Lots of people I know have tried to keep a journal.  Back when I used to write in my journals consistently, my friends often asked, "How can you do that?"  Here is a list of tips for keeping journals, online journals, and personal blogs:
  1. Decide if you like keeping a journal.   Notice how you feel when you write an entry:  Do you actually enjoy the process, or does it feel like something that you have to do?  If you like to look back on what you've done but don't enjoy the writing process, consider a different way to record memories, such as taking pictures.
  2. Don't feel that you have to write every day.  You can set a goal of how often you'd like to update, or you can just write when you have something to say.  If you do set a goal, don't let setbacks inhibit you from continuing.  If you miss a month of writing, don't feel obligated to write backdated entries unless you really want to. Feel free to continue forward.
  3. Pick the journal type that works best for you. A paper journal feels cozier, is more private, and lets you paste things in.  An online journal makes it easier to share with friends, edit past entries, and  link to other posts or articles.  If you like to type but don't want your journal on the internet, consider keeping a journal on a computer file.  
  4. Keep a list in your journal of things that you would like to write about, which you can refer to when you want to write. 
  5. If you're using your journal to keep a record of your life, stick to the highlights that you care about. Don't feel obligated to write details that don't interest you.  
  6. A journal can be anything you want it be.  It doesn't have to be a record of your life in the literal sense. Although I've written a lot of journals, I've never just written about what I've done. The remaining tips are suggestions for things you can write in a journal besides (or in addition to) what you did in a given week.
  7. Record your personal goals in your journal.  Not only will this help you to achieve your goals, but it lets you remember what was important to you at a certain time of your life.
  8. Make lists.  Lists are easier to update because you don't have to describe everything in detail.  I kept lists of funny and touching moments that happened with my friends and in plays.  
  9. Write things that you would normally write elsewhere.  I record party guest lists and shopping lists in my journals.  I would have otherwise thrown these lists away, but recording them automatically creates records of fun events. 
  10. If your journal is private, you can keep track of your daydreams. 
 11. Write about anything that interests you. You can look back and see what you were passionate about at a certain time. If you have an online journal, you may connect with other people who share your interests.
12. Don't feel that you have to stick to writing.  You can draw, make Venn diagrams, glue or post pictures, etc. You can decorate or use colored pens.  Whether public or private, make the space feel like your own.

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