Most Popular Journaling Articles of 2022

Thank you for reading Journal Writing with Deborah. Here are the most-read articles of 2022. Enjoy!

Deborah

Most Popular Journaling Articles


Journal Writing Sugggestions

A letter to an acquaintance who wanted tips for restarting journal writing after 20 years.


How to Use a Journal to Remember a Recently-Deceased Relative

When a loved one dies, you might wish to remember the person by writing about your experience in a journal, writing about the deceased, and keeping mementos.

Here are a few things that I have done with a journal during Aunt C’s illness and death.


On Journaling: Use What You Have 

Sometimes the right journal is the one that you have right now. I talk about my first journal and how it was not “perfect.”


Types of Journals to Consider

Here is a list of journal types. Choose what works for you.

Most Popular Journal Prompts

How to Write a 5-Minute Journal

The 5-Minute Journal is a series of writing prompts to recall daily highlights and improve oneself for the next day.

Journal Prompts After a Concert

Do you need journal prompts after attending a concert to remember an event? Here are a few prompts to get you started.


Heirloom Journals – Prompts for the Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children.

Not all journals are for yourself exclusively. Some would rather leave their writings to their children as heirlooms. Here are  a few writing prompts to get you started.


Journal Prompts for Aunts and Uncles

The following writing prompts are not only to help aunts and uncles capture the moments, but also to help you think through the relationship that you would like to have with your nieces or nephews, whether they are minors or adults.


Holiday Journal Prompts


Holidays can be a sensitive topic for many people. A journal can be the perfect place to download your feelings and attain a bit of relief from a stressful time. Conversely, if you enjoy festive seasons, journal writing is the perfect time to remember as much as you can about the day or days that you celebrated.

Here are a few prompts to get you started.


Image as Journal Prompt

It can be a personal image or one you randomly find online or in a print publication. Allow the image to evoke an idea or a memory.

Lunch Break Journaling

Taking a break at work can include fueling oneself physically and also refreshing oneself psychologically. Journaling can help with the latter.

On your lunch break, after you have had your meal, pull out your journal and jot down a few thoughts.

You can talk about the day, or your plans, or the bird that has flown by as you sit on a bench. This is especially useful for those who feel as if there is no time in the work day for journaling.

Write a sentence or two. Get into the habit of journaling, unfurling the blossom of your thoughts on the page. It can be a restful and refreshing experience.

There are those who take lunch in the employee break room and journal, if they feel that they will be undisturbed. There are others who eat in the car in the parking lot just to have privacy; journaling there should prove very easy to do. There are those who would not mind pulling out a journal in a restaurant and jotting down a thought or two. Some work close enough to home to eat lunch and journal in a familiar space. I’ve even heard of journal jogging, where you chat into a headset microphone into a voice recorder on your phone as you trot around the park.

However you choose to do it, don’t forget that your lunch break can be a time of mental and psychological refreshment through journaling.

Peace,

Deborah

Moving House and Journaling. Will You Have Time?

Will you have time to write in a journal while moving to a new home, packing and unpacking, making sure the emergency papers are in the right bag, etc.? Probably not.

However, if you take time with a camera or voice recorder, you might be able to squeeze in a moment or two.

Why do this? I find that you are unpolished and truthful in the rush of the moment. Your real thoughts come out. I find that comparing what your expectations in the moment with your new reality months or years later to be useful in finding the best way forward.

It’s also fun to get a glimpse of an old house or apartment or show your future self how you organized the move, should you need to move again.

If you can turn on your camera for a few minutes and describe how you feel, a video diary might be just the thing. Describe the day and what you are looking forward to doing in your new life.

Or perhaps, turn on your voice recorder, say the date and talk about what you have to do next. Nothing fancy. No big production. Just talk.

In my last move, I made a video diary of getting the keys in my new town and how I now feel like a local.

The other year when I moved, I made audio diaries which I listened to as I drove to my new place. I was thrilled to hear my younger self talk about her plans. This new move was part of what my younger self hoped she could do someday. I was shocked at how I had surpassed her expectations.

I’m so glad to have taken the time to record what I was thinking during a transition.

In the hubbub of moving on to a new place and a new life, capture memories of yourself in transition. They are wonderful memories.

Peace,

Deborah

Journaling with No Journal (Temporarily)

At times, we find ourselves with no journal or notebook but with a thought that must be jotted down. Here are a few ways to keep the thought until you return to your beloved personal book.

Alternatives to the Journal

If you board a plane and have no journal with you, jot notes on your boarding pass (if you have a paper one) or a paper napkin that comes with your beverage.

Yours truly is known for using paper towels from the public restroom to jot down a note or two in an emergency.

Programs at events have often been a go-to note-taking space. I deliberately leave my journal at home for the opera or a play. I don’t want to drag a journal around to such an event. But I do allow myself a pen, and jot notes in the margin to transpose to a journal later.

It is not true that President Lincoln scribbled the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope, but that’s not a terrible alternative in a pinch. How many times has one retrieved mail from the post office, had a thought, and scribbled it on the back of an envelope from Aunt May?

Alternatives to the Pen

  • Sometimes you keep a pouch full of writing implements, but you reach in and the only ones left are bright yellow highlighters. I have jotted down notes with a highlighter and later have drawn over the notes with an ink pen for increased visibility.
  • I would not like to ruin an eyebrow pencil, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make if there are no other writing implements around.
  • Step into a post office or bank to use their pens which are chained to their tables. Librarians are also generous with their pens.
  • Quills were once well used as writing implements, feathers whose tips were hardened through various processes to provide a point with which to guide ink on a page. Let’s say you are in the woods camping with your journal, but no pen. You have found a feather on the ground. It is not processed for writing. Yet, have I dipped such a thing into coffee and tried to write with it? Yes. Is it ideal? No. But if you have to…think of it as water coloring and the frustration subsides a little.
  • Use the voice recorder on your phone for memos to kick-start your memory when you journal later.

Prevention

  • Consider leaving palm-size spiral-bound notebooks and tiny golf pencils lodged in the spirals in various places – your coat pocket, your car’s console, the guest room at your friend’s house that you frequent, etc.
  • Take a journal with you when you leave the house. I make sure my daily totes are large enough for the task.

Ultimately, finding alternatives to pens or pencils is much harder than finding surfaces on which to write. Invest in lots of writing implements and strew them about in the spaces that you frequent. That’s the biggest takeaway today.

Peace,

Deborah

Book Review Journal Tips

Before Goodreads.com stole my heart and made my book reviews easy to search and find, yours truly would write book reviews in a paper journal.

I realized that my book reviews are more frequently written when I think I’m helping people, so they needed an audience. Goodreads provided that audience.

The problem with writing book reviews online on someone else’s website is that they can shut it down and your reviews no longer are available to you. Before that day comes, I plan to retrieve them from online and print them in a book.

Of course, when I would review a book in a paper journal, there was no need to worry about someone shutting it down, nor plugging in a machine, nor checking for battery life on a mobile device. One could just open the journal and write.

Whatever your reason for reviewing a book, whether for yourself, or for others, or a bit of both, the following tips might prove useful.

While Reading the Book…

  • While reading the book, enjoy yourself. Let it wash over you. Note the parts that excite you, surprise you, bore you, etc.
  • Depending on how thorough you want to be in your review of the book, if you don’t mind writing in the margins, you can keep some notes there. Yours truly is known to argue with the author in the margins. I tend to remember those parts of the book when I do.
  • You can also deploy a variety of bookmarks to return to a page to recall a quote you want to include in the review. If you don’t mind slight residue, sticky notes might help you return to the various pages of interest for the review.
  • Once you’ve reviewed books for a while, you start to recognize the highlights that you usually discuss in your reviews. Review notes might become unnecessary to recall what you want to say.
  • Caution: When reading books becomes all about the review you’re going to write later, reading can become a chore that is all about “getting it right,” whatever that means. Under such circumstances, one might stop having fun when reading. If this happens, take a break from reviewing and just have fun.

Organizing the Book Review Journal

  • The headings for your book reviews can be as simple as Today’s Date, Title, Author, and Review. Keep space in between each heading, leaving the most space for the Review.
  • However, if one is inclined to greater detail, one can include quotes that stand out to you, publisher, date of publication, ISBN, date you started reading, date you finished reading, etc.
  • As with any of the list journals, writing the same subject headings down every time might prove tedious. Consider printing out the subject headings and pasting them onto the journal pages ahead of time.
  • There are any number of ready-made book review journals on Amazon, Etsy, your local bookstore, etc. They save time on the subject headings.
  • You can create different sections in your book review journal and seperate the reviews by genre or other differences. E.g. Reviews of fiction can be written in the latter half of the journal and nonfiction in the front.
  • Another way to organize is to alphabetize the journal to write book reviews in order of book title or author’s last name. E.g. Space your journal into sections such as A through D, and only write about novels from Lynn Aaron to John Duke in that section.
  • You might create different journals for different genres and save yourself the time of sectioning off your genres in one book.

Reviewing Audiobooks

  • Reviewing audiobooks can be a difficulty for those of us who listen to them while doing something else, like washing dishes. We might not always recall what we liked about it in detail. However, if you can pause the audiobook when a thought intrigues you, and ruminate over it for a while, you might find that the most important parts of the audiobook will be readily accessible to your conscious mind when you are ready to review it in your journal later.
  • Consider an audio journal for reviewing audiobooks. For instance, if you are listening to an audiobook on your phone and have an intriguing thought, switch over to the voice recorder on your phone and record what you think. Push pause on the voice recorder and resume listening. Rinse and repeat until you are satisfied.

However you choose to organize your book review journal, have fun with it.

Peace,

Deborah

Essentials for Writing in a Journal

Author Bonnie Morris shares in the book Writers and Their Notebooks a few essentials for writing.

The author is speaking from a place of journaling while on the go, but this list can work for many in general. Let’s take a look at it.


Essentials for writing:

  • “Pens for every coat and knapsack and handbag that you own.”
  • “A…loyalty to your brand of instrument: Bic, Biro… fine-point, crayon. And mechanical pencil, too, for the creative engineers among you.”
  • “Ink. Choose colors that won’t fade; this is your stab at immortality, if you can handle the thought of great-grandchildren or grad students reading [your diaries].”
  • “Real paper, creamy, heavyweight, spiral-later, if you wish, you may certainly transfer journal entries to a cold and blinking screen. But the paper in your lap permits your moving hand to caress both pen and surface, a workmanship format centuries old, irreplaceably intimate….”
  • “A writing place and time, a favorite nook or bench, a willingness to create writing space in chaos, solitude in crowds—the ability to write in jail, on subways, during revolutions, at rock concerts, in bed.”
  • “If you like, a tape recorder and a camera rounding out the sounds and sights, interviews and images that collectively inspire you to capture or describe your life.”

This list is of Morris’ essentials. As with anything, take what works for you and toss the rest. There is not usually a one-size-fits-all situation.

Peace,

Deborah

Cruise Ship Journaling

Cruise ship journaling is a special type of experience. Your hotel is traveling for you. There is no need to pack and unpack at each new place. Your journal is right there.

PAPER JOURNALING ON A CRUISE


Use paper schedules as headers.

A few years ago, cruise ships heavily transitioned away from paper schedules and maps, which were once waiting in stacks on every corner of the ship, it seemed. If you left your schedule in the stateroom, you can pick up another one and remember where the art lecture is held.

They now offer apps for your mobile devices to keep track of the events on board. However, they still have paper schedules at the information desk.

Use the paper schedule of events as headers. E.g. Did you salsa on the 10th floor? Cut out that event from the schedule, affix it to the journal page and write about how that went.

Excursions

It’s up to you if you want to bring more than one journal on your trip. Some keep a large scrapbook style journal on board the ship, and take a smaller, more portable journal on excursions.

It might be unusual to have time to journal when wandering around a port city for a day if one is the type to try to pack in as many events as possible.

If you don’t have a moment to journal during your time off the ship, either take photos to write about later, and/or use your senses to savor the moments to remember later (e.g. What do I smell? What do I taste?, etc.)

Places to journal on-board ship

~The ship’s library is rarely occupied. Gather your journal, your adhesive photos, your paper schedules, your scissors and spread out on one of the tables in the library to remember the trip so far. This is a great thing to do during those days at sea when there are no ports, no excursions.

~Another place to write on the ship is the back of the Lido deck during a day at sea. Why? Because it is so windy and chilly there, no one is nearby. However, you can people-watch from afar, or just be with your thoughts and fresh air. It’s difficult to write there because of the updraft, but not impossible.

~Strewn throughout the upper floors are banquettes with ocean views. Perfect for journaling, if you don’t mind the hubbub of people walking to and fro along the nearby pathway.

~At times, there are events in small rooms with small tables. Yours truly has stayed behind after everyone has left to journal a little and was never told to leave. Do this at your own discretion.

~Of course, there is always the stateroom for journaling. It’s nice to get up early, ring for room service, have a cup of tea on the balcony (if you have one) and write about your plans for the day.

DIGITAL JOURNALING ON A CRUISE


Phone app

Cruising might be the perfect time for digital journaling, especially the digital apps on your phone or other mobile device.

Whether onboard or on excursions, more than likely, your phone is there. Using the Day One journal for Apple devices, or the Journey app for Android, you can jot down your experience on the go while embedding images.

One of the best things about digital journaling is key word search options, finding specific words when reading it all later.

Another advantage to digital journaling is syncing more than one device. You can use your phone on excursions and use your tablet onboard and not need to retype or transfer your words.Whatever you’ve written is on the cloud and on both devices.

Digital journaling is also a great option should your device become damaged or lost on vacation.

Print your digital journal

You can also journal digitally for the purpose of printing later.

Create a concise photo journal on your phone or online and print it.

These days, printing photos into hardcover personal books is fairly easy. Take photos on the cruise, then upload them with brief caption underneath to, for example, Google Photos print store, or Shutterfly.

This professionally printed captioned photo album can become your succinct travel journal with minimal fuss. Your luggage is also slightly lighter from not carrying around a physical journal.

However you choose to journal and cruise, have fun.

Peace,

Deborah

Journaling After a Flood Evacuation

A flood was set to hit the house in a few days. The river was about to overflow its banks, which it had not done in about a century.

We were privileged to get away in time, putting most of our belongings in storage. We were privileged to have a place to stay on higher ground. Still, we longed to be normal again.

Once we settled into our temporary space (It would take over a year to rebuild.), the journal came out of my purse.

It was time.

As I wrote about the flood, and the stress, and the gratitude that we were all safe, the topics might have been different than usual, but the act of journaling felt like putting on an old, familiar coat.

Our couch may have been in storage, but I still had the cozy comfort of the pages of my personal book. It was familiar. It was tactile. It was -if one can confess it- a thing one absent-mindedly hugs.

In reading the journals later, I noticed that I had given myself notes about how I felt (e.g. I would rather have my foam mattress than an air mattress, since the latter deflates with constant use.) and what to do to feel comfortable if a flood happens again.

The threat of another flood would occur four years later. We were better prepared this time, including prepared in the knowledge of what makes us less stressed in these difficulties.

After an evacuation, a journal is not a cure-all. However, when one has time to reflect, trotting out the old habit of journaling can bring a sense of normalcy and might even help you in the future.

I wish you peace.

Deborah

Writing in Public

There are those who only write at home. There are those who enjoy writing on the go, whether on vacation or just as a regular practice. Let’s discuss the latter.

When writing in public it has been this author’s experience that it is rare that anyone cares what you are writing or that you are writing at all. Meaning, try not to worry whether someone will be nosy. Just fall into the joy on the page.

Where to write? Anywhere.

  • Write in the waiting room while having an oil change. You might overhear a fun turn of phrase to jot down.
  • Write in the lobby of the hotel as you wait for your friends to join you. Explain why you all are there.
  • Write in the family room at the hospital. The journal can be a planning space or a place to think through next steps.
  • Write at your place of worship. Jot down notes for spiritual guidance later in the week.
  • Write at the park. Enjoy the fresh air and pay attention to how you feel writing outside. Is it enjoyable? Not so much? Jot that down.
  • Write at funerals and capture the stories you hear.
  • Write at a fueling station while on a road trip. Just a quick note or photo that you can write about later.
  • Write on a pier at the lake. Listen to the sounds of nature. What do you hear?
  • Write on your lunch break. Sometimes journaling can help you decompress.
  • Write on the plane after liftoff, if you have enough elbow room. Write about what takes you on this trip. Use the airline logo on a disposable paper napkin as decor on your journal.

Why write in public?

  • To capture the moment
  • To ease anxiety around crowds and chaos
  • To give oneself something productive to do while one waits
  • To further a writing goal
  • To continue the writing habit
  • To entertain oneself

Whatever the reason, writing in your journal in public might be a great habit to start, if you haven’t already. It is enjoyable to write in your journal in public. Wherever you are, journaling is like falling into your favorite, cozy couch.

Peace,

Deborah

Journals Helped to Make The Woman King (2022)

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood discussed on the podcast Today, Explained how her team pieced together the ancient Kingdom of Dahomey for the film The Woman King (2022) starring Academy Award winner Viola Davis. The episode is called “The true story of The Woman King. ” In it, the director says the following.

“We found [a] couple of journals written by missionaries who made the trip and that was invaluable. And this was pre-photograph which makes [ getting some information] difficult. So it was great,though, to be able to look at the different sources and be able to piece together what they would have worn.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood, Director

I draw your attention to this portion about journals for obvious reasons. When we write down our lives, even if it feels like a mundane life, there is value to it. That value increases over time as the world as we know it fades away and a new culture or set of people emerge.

When we pen our thoughts we pin down a moment in time that future generations can only marvel to consider.

Even if you do not plan to leave your journals to someone, nor to The Great Diary Project, your journal is still valuable to you. Just being able to see our progress written down from last year is personally useful.

Keep going. Keep writing. Your story is useful.

Peace,

Deborah

One Journal, Multiple Topics

Can you journal about more than one topic in a journal? Of course!



You can divide your new book into different mainstay topics. For instance, if you know you want a section on inspirational quotes, another section that plans your day, and another on how you are feeling, then you can section off a journal into three even parts and place a book mark, post-it note, tag, or other marker on the start of each section so that you can get to it easily.

You can journal about more than one topic on the same page. This is where headers will come in handy. Draw spaces for the different topics on the page and write about them in their designated spaces.

Play around with formatting to see what works for you. As always, have fun in the discovery process. Understand that even those of us who have journaled for decades change things from time to time. Do not feel obligated to stick with one format if it does not work for your needs.

Peace,

Deborah

The Journal Serves You (Not the Other Way Around)

There are those who are intimidated by a journal. Some people fear that they are not doing it “right,” that there is some prescribed method to which they should adhere because a famous person writes in that manner. Some are afraid of making mistakes in a journal.

Journals are your tools. They exist to help you reach whatever goal you have decided for your journal. You are not enslaved to the object, nor should you feel bound to a method used by a powerful or successful person if their method does not work for your goals.

It might be easier said than done for some, perhaps, but do not think of your journal as a master or slave driver. Think of your journal as a friend, a faithful assistant who stands ready and eager to enable your desires and goals for your writing.

Peace,

Deborah