What Comes to Mind When You Hear the Word “Journal?”

When you hear or read the word “journal” or “journal writer,” what comes to mind?

What about the word “diary” or “diarist?”

After reading an undergraduate describe resistance to journaling because of the image of a journal writer that they had in mind, I was intrigued.

The author’s preconceived notion was that the word “journal” or “journal writer” was associated with people who share carefully-curated pictures online of a life that seems to be without problems. A journal writer, to the author, is a kind of new hippie health enthusiast who eats granola and shares gratitude platitudes from their journal.

Although many people enjoy granola, in the U.S. referencing this food is sometimes used as a pejorative to describe someone who is out of the ordinary, but also someone who maintains their health. To this student, journaling was part of a lifestyle brand that no one can maintain.

The student found a way around her prejudice and admits that journaling has helped maintain mental health in tough times.

The article caused me to pause and ask questions.

  • What else can prevent a person from trying to journal?
  • What ideas come to mind when you think of journaling?
  • Where did this idea come from?
  • Could you journal about your notions of journaling?
  • Could one investigate the origins of why one resists journaling?
  • What preconceived notions do we have that prevent us from journaling or trying something new?

One preconceived notion that yours truly had (and I did not realize this until reading the article) was that when people think of journaling, they think as I do, that is, of famous people and their books that we are taught from a young age to revere. I was, I now realize, taught to hold in high esteem presidents (and thus, their diaries), monarchs and their personal books, and the diaries of people escaping tragedies that become best selling books. I was also taught to revere fictional characters with journals.

Journal writing examples are from generations past, I thought. Today, that might not be the case. For a younger person, a peer online is just as likely to influence a person to write in a journal as some august figure from the past. Or, in the case of that article writer, a peer online is just as likely to repulse a person and make the writing practice undesirable if it seem unattainable.

This is a new wrinkle for yours truly to contemplate as I try to discover how best to help and inspire people with their personal books.

What preconceived notions prevent you from journaling? What can you do about it?



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