From the time I could hold a pencil and write I have kept a diary. In fact, they always say that the thing that comes naturally to you is what you are destined to do. It is your calling. For me and my fascination with journal keeping, I can say that it feels like the most natural thing in the world. As time went on and I became a teenager, I stopped calling it a diary and started using the word “journal.” Later, I would be exposed to the concept of “Morning Pages” by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way (three binder pages of longhand writing done every morning as a sort of mind dump). The names may be different-journal, book, log, record, or diary-but the end result is the same. All lead you to a more in-depth, authentic and creative life.
A journal is a safe place to turn to when life gets rough. Writing in your book helps clear your mind and give you a new perspective which leads to greater creativity in problem-solving. In more pleasant times, a diary helps you savor the simple pleasures that are responsible for making life so sweet. A journal is there to listen at any time and it never grows tired. Once you enter that delicious flow state after writing for awhile, you’ll find that it is easier to use your subconscious in problem-solving and planning. A journal can also act as a launching pad for creative inspiration and ideas.
As the years have passed journal writing seems to have only grown in popularity. Journals are easily found in the marketplace. No longer do you have to go to the bookstore to purchase a blank book. Now it’s as easy as strolling down the stationary aisle at your local supermarket.
There are many different types of journals or diaries. I usually have five or six books going at a time. I have a regular diary in which I use as a mind-dump of everything I am experiencing as of that writing. But I also have a journal for quotes I like, one for creative inspiration, one for things I love (cut-outs from magazines and pretty pictures), and an art journal which I do mixed-media work in. I advise approaching journal keeping like scrapbooking. Scrapbooks have long been used as a place to keep rewards, mementos, and special pictures and memorabilia. If you have a hobby, make a notebook or journal dedicated to it. Make a journal dedicated to your achievements and “ta-das!” And don’t forget a gratitude journal.
The benefits of journal keeping are diverse and long. It is known that keeping a diary (of any sort) is relaxing and life-enhancing. Indeed, they are also a tool for healing. In one study, the facilitators found that having participants write about a past traumatic event on four consecutive days lead to emotional healing. Gratitude journals, in particular, have been described as life-changing because they gradually change your perspective from a place of lack to one of hope and optimism.
For some, there is a security issue. They are afraid their entries will somehow be exposed and this fear keeps them from keeping a journal or diary. It’s a shame when this happens because it is completely avoidable. Everything from a traditional lock-and-key diary to an online journal can keep your privacy. Online entries are usually password protected and you can customize the settings in order to share with someone special if you so choose. Some online journaling websites will even send you a daily reminder email to help you remember to write.
Whatever type of book you choose, in either a paper or online format, and whatever you choose to call it, keeping a regular writing practice will help you clarify your thoughts, process past hurts, focus on the present good and inspire creativity.