Comments 11

Journaling: A habit worth forming


For the month of June, I will be participating for the first time in the Wordcount Blogathon 2013.  I have participated in blogathons through my other blog, Writing Prompts from Life.  Blogathons are fun and help instill the daily writing habit. For this blogathon, I will be posting about writing practices, tools and exercises.

“I really feel lazy to write here but it’s good that I started.”  This was how I began my journal entry last night, before I went to bed.  Could I have gone to bed without writing on my journal?  Yes, but I know it wouldn’t have felt good. Habits are hard to break.

I have been journaling for many decades now, but unlike many journal writers, I have no clear memory of the time when I first wrote on a journal.  And I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the habit I had formed through the years offers many benefits other than being a friend when it was hard to find one; listening to my woes at any time of the day; and being a silent sounding board through all the phases, the ups and downs of my life.

Why journal?

In “Courage & Craft, Writing Your Life into Story,” Barbara Abercrombie says that if you Google the words, “keeping a personal journal,” you will get no less than 1,020,000 entries. That was in 2007.  Today, you will get 30,600,000 results if you type those words in the search box.  So it is safe to assume that journaling is an activity worth trying, for the many benefits it offers.

Writers write in journals in many different ways and for various reasons.  I wrote in my journal mainly to blow off steam, record wonderful moments in my life, and have someone to “talk” to.  Lately though, I had stopped journaling for a few months.  It seemed that the purpose the notebook had for me was no longer there.  I had reached a point in my life where there was no more steam that needed to be vented, and blogging had become a venue for recording the wonderful times of my life, my reflections and musings. As my blog posts became more frequent, the notebook pages remained empty.

Still, there was that tiny, nagging voice that said I should write in a journal. And so I began anew. Now I sometimes write in my notebook, but these past few weeks, I receive daily emails from OhLife reminding me of the day and the date, and asking me how my day went.  I type my answer and OhLife stores my entries in a file that only I can read.

What do I write in my journal?  I write about so many things.  There truly is no limit to the things we can write about.  The world is teeming with an inexhaustible array of subjects and topics waiting to be explored and recorded.  Journaling forces me to examine life more closely and to live it more fully.

Do you write in a journal?

For any writer who wants to keep a journal, remember to be alive to everything, not jus to what you’re feeling, but also to your pets, to flowers, to what you’re reading. Remember to write about what you’re seeing everyday.

—May Sarton

My journal is a storehouse, a treasury for everything in my daily life: the stories I hear, the people I meet, the quotations I like, and even the subtle signs and symbols I encounter that speak to me indirectly.

—Dorothy U. Seyler in Patterns of Reflection: A Reader

If you keep writing no matter what, you’ll not only find discipline and  a way to record the details of our life; you’ll also discover yourself in the pages of your journal.

—Barbara Abercrombie in “Courage & Craft, Writing Your Life into Story

My journal is my constant companion. It is never far from my reach … It is a front porch of solace and retreat when I am tired and weary.

—Nicole Johnson, in Fresh-brewed Life: A Stirring Invitation to Wake Up Your Soul


  1. I’d love to have the time to write a journal, I guess that is one of the reasons I started blogging. Best of luck with the challenge, I am looking forward to reading more of your posts!


  2. I wrote a journal when I was very young and it was mostly, as you said, to blow off the steam. Recently I read a journal written by Serbian translator of Don Quixote and I really liked it. Beside the fact that I could completely relate to her thoughts, I learned a lot about her working practices and decide to implement some of them in my own work. Thank you for sharing your opinions and reminding me how meaningful journals can be!


  3. I’ve been reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way so I’ve been doing morning pages every day. It does have a meditative quality to it. it hasn’t quite become a habit yet but I hope the practice sticks.


    • For many years, The Artist’s Way was my favorite book. It helped me appreciate journaling and the practice of having Artist’s dates. Thanks for dropping by


  4. Handwritten? Indexed? Do you go back and read them? Are they intended for anything beyond Reflection in the Present Tense?

    I do see much value in the exercise of expressing oneself entirely candidly for no one’s eyes but my own. Blogging has helped me write more readable prose. I think getting back into the habit of daily journaling would help me write more authentic prose.


    • I have notebook journals and an online journal – no indexes actually. Sometimes when I have time I try to read some past entries. For now, they’re really just for reflection and present tense. I hope you’ll try to go back to journaling daily.


  5. Welcome to the 2013 Blogathon – it is my third year and I’m sure you will see it is a lot of fun. I’ve kept a journal most of my life, but not necessarily consistently. Just lately I have started on Julia Cameron’s idea of Morning Pages (from The Artist’s Way), the basic idea being that you author your own life and keep yourself in flux with writing, and I have to say I enjoy the practice.


    • Julia Cameron’s book is so full of helpful tips on writing. I am already enjoying the blogathon 🙂


  6. Pingback: Why Writers Keep Journals | Writing on the Pages of Life

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