JOURNALING

Journal Writing Suggestions

This is a letter which I sent to an acquaintance -Mr. X- who asked for journal writing suggestions. Two decades have passed since Mr. X has written in a journal. He wanted to start again and asked if I had any tips.

I did.

What follows is my answer to him, reprinted with permission and with a few edits for clarity. Hopefully, this might prove useful to others.

————————————-

Hi  Mr. X,

Via text you asked for journal writing suggestions. I started thinking of everything I wanted to say and it was too much for a text message over the phone, so I’m writing in a longer form. Here are journal writing suggestions that I hope will be useful. (By the way, my mother always says this about taking advice:  glean what works for you, and then toss the rest.)

Here we go:

  1. There is no right or wrong way to write in your journal. Your journal is neither an exam nor a measure of your worth. Some beginners become obsessed with doing it “right,” choosing the “perfect” pen, not making mistakes, etc., to the point of paralysis or negative thoughts about themselves. You are not being judged or graded. This book exists to serve you.
  2. Understand your purpose for the journal.
    • Knowing why you journal helps to choose your format. If you journal for future generations 100 years from now to understand what life is like for you in 2017, then you might choose a leather journal or a digital journal -something long-lasting- as opposed to a paperback sketchbook.
    • Knowing why you journal helps to choose how frequently you should journal. I write every day because I would like to look back on what I was doing a year ago today and see my progress (or lack of it). Other people only write on vacation, because those trips are important to them. They do not need to write 365 days a year.
    • Knowing why you journal will come in handy on the rare days when you do not feel like doing it. Your “why” can be your motivation through writer’s block.
  3. Here are a few reasons that people journal:
  • Some use a journal to record a history of their lives for the next generation. I call these heirloom journals.
  • Some use it to think through an issue, e.g. Sometimes I don’t know everything I think about a subject until I write it all down.
  • Many use a journal for personal development, to establish goals for the kind of person they would like to become, the kind of life they would like to have, etc.
  • Others use journals to vent frustrations.
  • Others keep interesting quotes in their journal so that it becomes an inspirational reference book.
  • Some record their progress– physical, mental, academic. E.g. One guy uses it to record his daily diet and exercise regime. He can refer to an entry from 10 years ago to sculpt his body the way that he did in the past.
  • Some use journals for specific events – e.g.  They buy a new journal to record their thoughts during the first few months of their newborn’s life; they sometimes include photos.
  • Many people use journaling just to find a home for the thoughts which ricochet inside their minds all day.  e.g. Leonardo DaVinci used his notebooks to sketch many things that would not be invented for centuries, including the military tank.

leonardo

 

 

  1. Choose a format which works for your purpose.
    • There are traditional paper journals, which I use often. Paper journals are good for slowing down and thinking through an idea. They are also great for heirloom journals, since your heirs can hold the same book that their ancestors touched.
    • There are digital journals –online and offline- such as the ONE DAY journal app for Apple products, or the JOURNEY journal app for Android phones. Digital journal apps are the best for searching through your old entries, creating tags so that you can re-read all journal entries that are under one category.
    • You might type your journal on a WORD document on a password-protected flash drive or external hard drive, so that it’s offline and private.
    • There are audio journals. In those moments when I do not want to write, I use the voice recorder on my phone to talk through an idea.
    • There are video journals. You can record yourself using your camera phone, a point-and-shoot or a DSLR set up.
    • An entrepreneur named Roberto Blake uses social media apps, like Instagram, as a public journal to record his life visually, to recall where he was, geographically and psychologically, on that day.

roberto

You can choose one of these formats or use a combination. It all goes back to your purpose for doing this, your lifestyle, and personality.

  1. There are different formats for organizing the contents of journals. Here are a few types:
    • A log. In a log, you talk about what you’ve done today or during the week.
    • Self-Improvement Journals. Usually you are hashing through what you’ve done, how can it be improved, what you’re going to do moving forward.
    • Art journals. These tend to have fewer words and more images. An art therapist from Australia, Jade Herriman, says that art journaling is therapeutic and helps you to develop a creative mind.
    • Bullet journals. These are mostly custom-tailored to-do lists more than traditional journals. Visit Boho Berry for bullet journaling tutorials.
    • Commonplace books. These feature inspirational quotes or images that you have come across.

It’s best to make a combination that you prefer.

  1. It is helpful to have your form of journaling handy. I keep my paper journal nearby because I write at random times of the day, whether at home or away from home. Other people write at a set hour and at a certain desk, so they keep the book on that desk, ready to go for when they want to jot down an idea.
  2. On the days when you do not feel like writing, or when you would like inspiration, you might discover how other journal writers write.
    • I have written a blog post on Tim Ferriss and a journal process that takes only about 5 minutes to write every day. Here’s a link to “How to Write a 5-Minute Journal.”
    • Clark Kegley, a Youtuber, started journaling in 2013, I believe, for personal development and sharing what he has learned on his channel. Kegley uses only one journal per year. He suggests that you divide the journal into different subjects like a school notebook, e.g. He might section off 30 pages for each subject – 30 pages reserved for inspirational quotes, another 30 for ranting, another 30 pages for his goals, etc. He can go back and forth between the different sections throughout the year as he deems necessary.

Here’s a link to one of his many videos about journal writing called 4 Questions to Upgrade Your Journal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIqMzigWx04 (The four questions are also in the description box below the video if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing.)

Kegley

Here’s another Kegley video that you might find useful, he takes you through how he sets up his journal in The Ultimate Guide to Keeping a Journal.  (It’s not really the ultimate guide, there is no ultimate guide; it’s just Kegley’s way of journaling.) The talk  starts at the 7min 12sec mark; this is a deep link to that part: https://youtu.be/kcNz4AE1FiI?t=7m12s

    1. Austin Kleon has a blog post about journaling called, ”On Keeping a logbook.”  Here is the link: https://austinkleon.com/2010/01/31/logbook/

Basically, he explains that his journal is a list of 4 or 5 things he has done that day, with a few doodles. I’ve noticed that calling it a list instead of a journal seems to help many people to write more often.

Here is an image of what Kleon’s journal looks like:

KLeon

Ultimately, the journal is for you and your purposes. After a while, journal writing becomes a habit. Journal writing can become something as useful to you psychologically as eating or drinking water is for you physically.

Always remember, however, if you decide to walk away from it, that’s fine too; it’s your life.  (Plus, you can always pick it up again, if you wish.)

Peace,

Deborah M. Thomas


What are some of your journaling suggestions? Let me know.

 

JOURNALING

Use Your Journal to Improve Language Skills

The premiere Korean language company- Talk to Me in Korean- suggests one thing to do to improve the study of Korean- use a journal. This can be applied to learning any language.

They suggest that you write every day in your journal using the language skills that you wish to improve. Use subject matter that is meaningful and important to you and you are more likely to continue the practice. For instance, if you enjoy writing about family or a friends, that is what you write about in the language that you are learning.

Watch the video where a Talk to Me in Korean host explains the method on Youtube: Do This One Thing to Keep Improving Your Korean.

Peace,

 

Deborah

JOURNALING

Addressing the YOU of five years ago in your journal

The leader of a Facebook group recently asked a question similar to the following, a question which might be a great journal prompt:

What is something that you have done which would have impressed the you of five years ago?

That’s a mouthful.

This prompt is meant to help you understand the progress you have made in life.  Have you done something that five years ago you didn’t expect to have done? Have you accomplished something that, five years ago, seemed out of reach? Have you altered your life in ways that you had not even considered back then?

Contemplate it and record your answers.

This prompt can also be used to get your ideas flowing for what’s next. What might impress you in the next five years?

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING

A Public Journal

Ten years ago I would give away paper journals to relatives and friends, hoping they would join me in recording their lives. They often did not take me up on the offer.

Enter the touchscreen phone/smartphone, the tablet, etc. Now they record their lives in more ways than I do, through Facebook, Snapchat, and other applications online.

There are many different ways to journal now, even if people do not call it by that name. I still love my paper journal the best, but I am thrilled that so many people are finding the way that suits them to record their endeavors.

I recently came across a video by online entrepreneur Roberto Blake called, “I’m No Instagram Model, But…”. In it, Blake notes that he had not found a way to use the photo app Instagram in a way that fits his personality. Then, he says,

“I decided to turn Instagram into a public journal where I can express what I’m thinking and feeling as a creative person, as a human. And so I can look back on that myself and know exactly when I felt something, where I was at that time – both geographically at the time and just where I was in my own head.”

He’s journaling on social media! But then again, so are most individuals who are on the app. He’s one of the first people that I’ve heard use the word “journal” to describe what he’s doing with it.

Recording your life and thoughts can be done; sometimes  it’s a matter of finding the tools that work for you and your life. Perhaps the journaling tool that best fits your life has not yet been invented. (Perhaps you should invent it.)

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Organize Self and Home · Productivity

Templates Create Efficiency in Your Journal’s To-Do List

If your journal also houses your to-do list, then efficiency in creating those lists is necessary to get the job done.

One of the biggest culprits of to-do list failure, of not achieving the goal, is the tedium of having to write and rewrite your list on tasks to complete on a regular basis. Delay writing burnout by creating templates.

If you know that you will create a to-do list every day or every week in your journal, it might be a good idea to type a list template that you can print and affix to your paper journal.e.g. If you have a weekly to-do list for the foreseeable future that has as its focus Housing goals, Blogging goals, and Financial goals, then type those headings in a simple table, leaving blanks for you to write in the specific goal each week.

If you are using a digital journal for your list, create a to-do list template that you can copy and paste every day or every week.

Continue tweaking your journal and your lists until it fits your life. Pay attention to what fatigues you about your writing and what brings you  a sense of well-being.

And remember that what worked for you in a different phase of life might need to be tweaked for your current phase of life.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING

Which Pen Should You Use for Journal Writing?

Use the writing implement or medium that works for you and your journal. If a Visconti Rembrandt fountain pen makes you eager to write, go for that investment. If a store brand pen which you can buy in packs of 50 gets your creative juices flowing (because you’re not worried about someone “borrowing” it), then use that inexpensive pen.

Sometimes you’re not even using a writing implement. There may be times when you  glue an image to a page to speak for your mood instead of words.

The pen (or other medium) you should use for the journal is the one that serves you.

Onward,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Old Journals Are Like Letters to Yourself

Have you written a letter to your future self? Depending on the purpose of your journal, your personal book can serve as an extended letter to self,  featuring goals,  wishes,  your ideology. . . Everything. Anything.

This morning, I read an entry from ten years ago. I was jaded,  dejected,  and hoped that my older self was having fun.

My younger self had been despondent for months. I do not recall those moments lasting so long, but there they are in black ink (someyimes red ink when feeling particularly dramatic).

I cannot help her now, but I can help someone else who shows similar deviations from their baseline behavior.

These journals help me to be aware of how a person might feel during different phases of life, phases long forgotten.

The journals help to empathise with younger people or those going through the doldrums.

Have you read one of your old journal today? What did you discover in what is, essentially, a letter to yourself ?

 

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Write a 5-Minute Journal

When Tim Ferriss mentions his daily writing routine in Tools of Titans, I was intrigued. He calls the routine the 5-Minute Journal.

The 5-Minute Journal is a series of writing prompts that Ferris uses every day – morning and evening- to recall daily highlights and to improve himself for the next day.

These are the 5-Minute Journal Prompts:

Morning Questions

  1. I am grateful for…
  2. What would make today great?
  3. Daily Affirmations

Evening Questions

  1. 3 amazing things that happened today
  2. How could I have made today better?

 

I have incorporated the 5-Minute Journal Prompts into my daily writing routine for ten days. There is already a weekly goals list incorporated into my journal; I was searching for a way to remind myself daily of the tasks that should be completed by Saturday. The 5-Minute Journal Prompts bend to this purpose.

Early on, I would often write in the Evening Questions section that nothing amazing has happened today. It was then that I realized that I associate the word “amazing” with momentous and often unexpected occasions. I substituted it with the word “awesome,” which I associate with any size event or occurrence. That prompted me to change the wording in other places in the prompts to fit my life and the way that I speak.  I would encourage you to do the same.

After a few days, writing the same questions over and over became tedious, so I typed the questions, leaving a space for writing underneath each one. I then printed out a bunch of the pages to glue one every day to my journal. Then I start writing. That has been so much better than handwriting the questions every day.

Of course, if you’re already digital journaling, this series of  prompts can more easily fit into your daily writing without so many steps, and without the tedium of writing the same words every day. Just copy and paste.

What do you think of the 5-Minute Journal?

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

What has prevented you from reaching your goals? Is part of it fear? Fear of what? Writing it all down in private, in a journal  (paper or digital) helps to process what’s going on internally. From there, you have a better stance from which to address the issue.

A journal can also help you to understand your patterns of fear as well as the things you continue to say that you want, the goals you continue to claim will be completed. Following the patterns of behavior recorded in your journal can help you  understand what you fear, at what points you tend to fail and why.

Reading my old journals where I would write that I plan to do X, Y or Z, and then seeing how little of that I had accomplished was devastating. I determined to discover where I continue to fail. A lot of it was allowing fear to make my decisions, or just not making a decision at all (which is a decision by omission).

Use your journal to help you understand what you would do if you were not afraid.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING

Do You Use a Table of Contents in Your Journal?

How many of you use a table of contents in your paper journal?

While it is perfectly possible to enjoy the benefits of journal writing without labeling each entry, a table of contents or an index will help to skim the journal for an entry that you will want to re-read later.

Plus, a table of contents gives you a summary of your year (or whatever time frame in which you used the journal). Sometimes you look back in wonder at all the thing you have done (or didn’t do) in a year, just by looking at the table of contents.

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING · REVIEWS · Tech Thoughts from a Consumer

Journey Digital Journal [A Review]

Inspired by the founder of National Journal Writing Month, Bakari Chavanu, who talks about his enjoyment of digital journal writing, this month I journaled using an app on my phone.

I used the Journey brand of digital journal, which is for Android.

You type as you would a memo. (In fact, Journey  resembles the Memo Pad which comes automatically with your Samsung, but with a more aesthetically-pleasing interface.)

You insert video, photos,  stickers, etc., should you prefer to do so. I did not find an audio feature (other than whatever audio is on your video); I’m surprised since even Memo Pad allows for voice-only attachments to your entry.

There are other features which you access with an upgrade, however, there are plenty features in the free version to keep a simple digital journal.

Journey automatically dates the entry; the date and time remain even if you update. There is an option to change the date and time manually. (So that’s one up on the Memo Pad, which automatically updates your date and time when you change an entry and you cannot alter it.) When you start a fresh entry but use an old image, Journey asks whether you want to change the date from the current date to the date on the image.

journey digital journal - screenshot - Deborah Observes

To read the next journal entry on Journey, you can easily click the arrow at the bottom of your journal post (or use the timeline feature to have a big picture glimpse of your little essays). Journey, of course, comes with standard tag features and the ability to search. These features spark the feeling of creating a personal mini blog.

Journey is great for those moments when you do not have your paper journal with you, or when you need to add text to that image you have just taken so that you do not forget details of an event.

It’s a serviceable journal app to capture moments, but not so great for lengthy, soul-searching, life-altering journaling. For me, Journey would supplement my main journal writing, but not replace it.

I prefer the intimacy of a hand-written, paper journal; I’m accustomed to it. However, Journey’s ability to allow you to search for specific entries and categorize by tags is selling me on digital journal writing in general.

Ultimately, Journey is a less-clunky, journal-dedicated version of Memo Pad.

Journey digital journal might be for you if…

…you like an intuitive, streamlined, user-friendly app for journal writing.

…you need a journal app that can be used with a desktop or laptop keyboard.

…you need an Android app to capture moments while you are out and about.

…you would like to store journal entries on Google Drive.

Journey digital journal might NOT be for you if…

… you prefer to use your iPhone for journal writing. Journey is currently only for Android users.

…you prefer to journal exclusively on paper. (However, there is an option to export as a WORD document or a PDF, among other formats, should you prefer to print it off  into paper form.)

… you already use Memo Pad for digital journaling and are ok with not be able to sync the text to other devices.

Click here to view the specifics of Journey brand digital journal on Google Play.

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING

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 your journal, writing about the deceased and keeping mementos.

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

1. Print Text Messages

These days, some are irritated if you call them on the phone without advance notice. Instead, we send short text messages on our cell phones or other mobile devices when it is more convenient than voice-to-voice or face-to-face communication.

I’m so glad that this is the case, because text messages from loved ones who are now deceased become written (or, rather, typed) keepsakes.

I have texts from Aunt C that I will print out and place in my journal, including her last one in which she thanked me for sending a book about cancer and hope – There’s No Place Like Hope: A Guide to Beating Cancer in Mind-Sized Bites.

2. Record Their Words and Habits

One of the issues that mourners sometimes have is this: as time wears on and the person you love has been dead for a while, you fear forgetting the little things. You want to remember how they laughed, for instance, but can’t quite recall it.

Long before anyone dies, make a habit of recording interesting conversations from the people in your family, or sayings, or even what seems mundane. I would encourage recording people in your video diaries so that you have a visual and oral representation of them.

Barring that – let’s say that they are camera shy- then using your paper journal will  suffice. Be detailed in your description of the person; use similes, if needed. e.g. Her laugh is like the tinkling of a wind chime in the summer breeze – tinny, and insistent.

Let’s say that you did not record much about that person while they were alive. Then, just after the death, when you feel you are ready, record as much detail as you can.  Don’t scold yourself for not having done this sooner. Be kind to yourself.

(One of the great things about social media is that many people have shared their voice and face on the internet; they have already recorded themselves. Try to acquire copies of those videos, if you can.)

3. Attach The Funeral Program to the Journal

These days, it is easy for a family or a funeral home to create printed programs for the event.  The program is usually both an order of service (e.g. song, prayer, song, eulogy) as well as an obituary.

The printed funeral program is another keepsake that you can attach or adhere to your journal.

I acquired two programs from Aunt C’s funeral, cut them at the fold, and glued them to pages in my journal. I used two in order to display the content on the back and the front of the program; you may use just one program, if you wish, and copy the back.

4. Journal At the Funeral

Take a journal to the funeral; write what you would like to capture about the event, or about yourself, or about the deceased, or about the people that you have met.

One way to help yourself remember the details of the event (or just to calm down if you are overstimulated) is to pay attention to your 5 senses and write about them. (e.g. Who do I see? What one thing do I hear? What one scent do I smell? What do I taste? What textures do I feel on my skin right now?) Write down those observations. Whether at a funeral or not, some of my most vivid memories have come from moments when I just drink in basic things in my immediate surroundings.

If you journal at the funeral, be aware that others might look over your shoulder and see what you write. I tend to journal only about the funeral when I’m at the funeral, i.e. I take notes. When at the funeral, I do not write anything revealing, or too personal, or anything that I wouldn’t mind someone else reading while I’m there.

If the person eulogizing the deceased knows her well, the speech is usually informative and chock full of stories that you can record in your journal.

If the person giving the eulogy does not know the deceased very well, the speech tends to be an impersonal lecture. However, he or she might still have a few words worth worth your time; take notes. I do not put too much pressure on myself to summarize the eulogy if the person did not know the deceased; I just grab one concept from the whole speech, then write about something else.

At some funerals, there is a point in the service when audience members may go to a microphone for a couple of minutes and reflect on the life of the person who has died. Usually, the audience member tells a story about one moment in time when the deceased was kind, or entertaining, or a welcome presence, etc. These are often stories that I’ve never heard before, so I take notes. I summarized these 2-minute reflections about Aunt C in my journal during her funeral.

You may decide to do all of this in your journal later at home. However, I have found that I tend to forget some of the things I want to record unless I’m taking notes in the moment, as if it is an important class.

(Actually, a funeral can be an important class in life. Everyone is thinking about death and what is important to them. It’s a time of reflection.)

5. Consider an heirloom journal

Let’s say that the deceased did not leave much of a personal record of themselves – their opinions, their thoughts on life, their thoughts on the family, etc. There’s little you can do about that.

However, you can consider leaving YOUR journals behind so that your relatives have a keepsake from you.  The heirlooms might be your daily journals or a separate journal specifically dedicated to what you want your relatives to know about you, about life, about concepts that you find important.

Aunt C did not keep a journal (at least, not that we know of); she was a private individual. However, after her death, a few relatives perused her papers to get a better sense of who she was, that which she never really told us about herself. It was a bit impersonal since the papers were diplomas, certificates, office papers, bills, etc., but they still told a story. It would have been nice to have something a little more personal from her.

Give the gift of your personal story to your loved ones by leaving your journals in your will.

Peace,

Deborah

P.S. If you are worried about what can happen to your journal after you die, read this article to consider your options: Journaling Q and A, Part 1.

Brain Drops · JOURNALING

Do You Reread Your Journals?

People write in journals for a variety of reasons. Depending on the purpose of the journal, rereading it can be useful. Sometimes, however, rereading the journal serves no purpose for you or perhaps it is too painful.

However, for those of us who use journals to record our history, our progress (or lack of it), rereading is essential.

I recently stumbled across Tim Ferriss’ book – Tools of Titans. In his introduction, I was struck by his use of journals. He calls them “notes.”

“I’m a compulsive note-taker…. I have recorded nearly every workout since age 18 or so…. It is the collection of my life’s recipes.

“My goal is to learn things once and use them forever.

“For instance, let’s say I stumble upon a picture of myself from June 5, 2007, and I think, ‘I really wish I looked like that again.’ No problem. I’ll crack open a dusty volume from 2007, review the 8 weeks of training and food logs preceding June 5, repeat them and -voila- end up looking nearly the same as my younger self (minus the hair). It’s not always that easy, but it often is.”

For Ferriss, workout journals and food logs are important.

What would be important for you to recall from your journals?

For me, recalling what I was doing a year ago  helps me to understand my progress and my process in any given area of life. Have I made progress on the goals mentioned last year?

Approximately a year ago this month, I said that I wanted to create a business. I’ve set those gears in motion.

One of the things I now do that I wasn’t doing last year this time is use the journal to record my goals for the week, re-reading the goals daily, and revamping the next week’s goals on Saturday.

A music group that I like asks themselves at least three goal-related questions every year, questions that I have adapted to a weekly form and ask myself every Saturday in my journal. They are these:

  1. What accomplishments excited you this week?
  2. What would you like to accomplish next week?
  3. Give yourself encouragement for the next week.

I answer these questions. Under accomplishments for the week, I note daily which things I’ve done and which I have not. I reread the answers at the end of the week. Sometimes I look back on the week and see lots of notes that something did not happen, that I did not accomplish this thing or that. It can be discouraging. But the great difference between last year and this year is that I correct the failings quicker because I  reread the list of things to do every week.

My journal is also where I record my feelings or thoughts about family, business, technology or anything else I’m thinking about. Not only is my to-do list there, but the mental state that I’m in when I accomplish (or fail to accomplish) a thing is right there as well. This helps me to see patterns of thought that I can change to alter my behavior, map my behavior towards the goal.

The person that I once was is always a familiar stranger. This is comforting. Since I made such terrible career decisions in my youth, I am forever in doubt that I’ll know what future self wants. However, according to my journals, the terrible decisions occurred when I stopped listening to myself and followed the crowd. Now, I listen to myself more, I follow the way that I am bent more, even if my behavior is difficult to explain. (This is another reason that rereading my journals comes in handy – if I can explain myself to myself, I have a better shot at being able to explain myself to other people.)

Do you reread your journals? Why do you do so?

Peace,

Deborah

 

JOURNALING

Why Do You Write?

We all write for different reasons. Here are a few that I’ve found.

~ You write as a natural extension of the skill of reading, wanting to recreate  or create your own version of what you’ve seen.

~ Eventually, you write out of habit.

~ You write, sometimes, to review what you honestly think about a subject.

~ You write to express  yourself and put your stamp on all of the information you’ve ingested through the years.

~ You write to emulate some of your writing heroes. Sometimes what you read inspires you to take out your own pen and paper and give a little of yourself to the public.

Why do you write?

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

Digital Journal Vs. Paper Journal Debate, NaJoWriMo Founder Weighs In

Author and founder of the National Journal Writing Month, Bakari Chavanu, weighs in on the debate of digital journal vs. paper journal in his article, “10 Reasons I Prefer Digital Journal Writing Over Pen and Paper.”

My favorite of his reasons for using a digital journal over a paper one is that it is easily searchable. One of my greatest problems has been in finding a way easily to return to specific parts of my journals. Right now I use a table of contents. I’ve tried indexing, but it’s just too time-consuming.

I have used both. I more readily use the paper journal since it lends to a feeling of privacy even in a crowd. Sitting there, cradling your book, you are visiting an old friend, it seems. Currently, a digital journal requires lots of tapping and typing (or talk-to-text dictation), which my brain associates with work and not much that is personal. But that is a quirk.

It doesn’t have to be either/or. The best journal is the one that works for you. We have discussed before that  a journal is there to serve you and your needs. If a digital journal works for you, go for it.

In a way, this website serves as a kind of digital journal.  Many of the thoughts that I free write about on paper every day becomes fodder for this website.

Which do you prefer? Do you use both? Do you use someone other journaling method?

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Thoughts on Journal Writing

Thoughts about journal writing

  • The format of your journal is up to you. It can be like a captain’s log (” At 8:00am, I awakened to the sound of bluejays over the Sandish Hills.”); it can be a commonplace book- where all things that inspire you are included; it can be a progress journal to keep track of health, household, relationships; it can be more of a to-do list to help you organize your life with a customizable plan (like bullet journaling – click here for bullet journaling 101); you can even create an art journal and paint, or draw, or create a mixed media book; it can be an historical record for your family. Discover your reason for doing it and plow forward with that.
  • How many journals you keep should be dictated by what you want them to do, plus your own way of writing. There are those who do multiple journals, compartmentalizing their lives – jogging journal is separate from family history journal. There are those who keep separate subjects in one journal -keeping 30 pages for inspiring quotes, then another 30 pages for musing about interesting articles, the next 30 pages might be reserved for ranting. There are those who use one journal, start off with the date and then discuss what happened today, or their thoughts on some subject – a catch-all journal.
  • If you join a Facebook group, or any group, of journal writers, understand that talking about having the most expensive fountain pen or the most fabulous leather journal is more important for some of them than is the act of writing. If you want to collect fountain pens, there is nothing wrong with that. However, assess whether a group that is mostly about conspicuous consumption helps you with your journal writing goals.
  • For those of you who -like me- are introverted journal writers who tend to keep to yourself, and journal write wherever you go, look up once in a while. You might find a fellow journal writer right under your nose. I was writing in my journal while in a waiting room and that was the impetus for a fellow journal writer to strike up a pleasant conversation with me! Who knew?
  • If you journal in public, be aware that some people might think that you are writing about them. Some might be bold enough to ask whether you are or not. It might be best to put away the book at that moment, since you never know what someone will do when they are panicked. This rarely happens, but use your discretion.
  • You do not need to keep your journals if you don’t want to do so. Some journals are meant to carry you through a certain season of life and no further. Some journals might be filled with all the things you dislike and all the people you distrust; re-reading that can be repulsive or unproductive. If you need to destroy  or recycle a page or an entire journal, do so. The thing has served its purpose.
  • If you decide to keep your journals, and they are filled with things that you don’t mind reading, let me tell you what a joy it is to be able to go back and see what you were thinking 5 years ago on this date! Even if you ultimately disagree with the person you once were, it’s still a thrill to see the progress (or a kick in the pants to see how little you have progressed).
  • After a while, some journal writers develop a pre-writing ritual, e.g. setting the tea kettle on to boil before writing, exercising vigorously. Some even have  post-writing rituals. I like to sign the last page of my journal, as if I had just written a long, 140-page letter.
  • Reviewing past journals might leave you stunned. An idea that you think you’ve created recently might be in a journal from years ago; you simply did not take the initiative, did nothing about it, then forgot. It takes a lot not to become discontented at that point, thinking about all the things you could have accomplished between that time and this.  Learn to become a more forgiving person, starting with yourself. (Also learn to strike while the iron is hot!)
  • Too many beginners in journal writing behave as if the thing will be ruined if they make a mistake, need to erase something, or scratch through it. Journaling should be a joy, or something functional for you, not something that produces fear, or seems to intimidate you. Remember that journal writing tools -your journal, your writing implements, your ideal writing environment – are there to serve YOU. 

 

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

What is Your Ideal Journal Writing Environment?

What is your ideal journal writing environment?

Journaling has been such a personal endeavor for me since childhood that I never considered that others might do it any different way than I did. I didn’t think too much about how anyone else would do it.

Since joining various journal writing groups online, I’ve found a variety of ways in which people journal and where they journal.

  • Some enjoy journaling in the same spot every time.
  • Some like to sit in a corn field, or up a tree, or near a river, or on the beach, or while looking a mountain.
  • Others would not dream of writing without a table.
  • Some prefer a coffee shop.
  • Others prefer the comfy coziness of home.
  • Some prefer to write while waiting for the oil to be changed in their automobile, or while the children are playing in the park.
  • There are joint journals where everyone can contribute to the book, so they keep it in a common area, like the living room.
  • Some write in the kitchen while the tea kettle is boiling.
  • Some cannot get started until they have a bouquet of colorful pens nearby.
  • Others refuse to write without a fountain pen.

I like to write anywhere and at anytime. My lap is my desk. If a thought strikes, I must record it in some fashion. Sometimes the most handy thing is the voice recorder on your phone. You say the thought aloud into the phone and later expand on it in the journal.

Sometimes, in childhood, I would journal in the closet with a flashlight until someone called my name for dinner.

Your environment must be conducive to how you like to write in your journal. Your instruments must be convenient to use or you are less likely to write.

Sometimes you cannot think straight enough to write until the dishes are washed and the house is tidy. At other times, the dishes can sit and soak while you pound out an idea before you forget it.

If you are just getting started journaling, perhaps your preferences are not yet set. Don’t worry; you’ll find the setting that is perfect for you if you don’t give up on it. Tweak and tweak and tweak. (And enjoy the process of tweaking.)

What is your ideal writing environment? What have you done to create it, to make it a reality? Perhaps you can journal about that.

Peace,

Deborah

P.S. If you’re have been procrastinating on journal writing, click for this article on how to think about procrastination and how overcome it.

P.P.S. This might be useful to you. Click for Journal Q and A, Part 1 which addresses 3 common fears which prevent many from starting or continuing journal writing.

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts -After Listening to a Music Album

Have listened to a music album recently and wish to write about it in your journal? Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for Listening to a Music Album

  1. Name the album. Why did you choose it?
  2. Is it your first time listening to this album? If you listened to it before, what spurred you to listen to it again? What prompted you to listen the first time?
  3. Who is/are the artist/ artists?
  4. When did you first hear of the artist?
  5. What was your initial impression of the artist? Has your opinion remained the same? Changed?
  6. How would you describe the genre?
  7. Do you have other albums of this artist? Which ones?
  8. How does this album rank with that of this artist’s other albums?
  9. How does this album rank, in your opinion, with that of other artist in this genre?
  10. How do you think future music will be consumed? – we’ve had records, CDs and now digital downloads. What is next?

 

All the best,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Journal Prompts for After a Concert

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

Journal Prompts for After a Concert

  1. What concert did you attend?
  2. What is it about this artist that induces you to spend time at one of their concerts?
  3. Recall the first time you ever heard a composition or song from this artist.
  4. Who attended the concert with you?
  5. Why did you attend this particular venue (as opposed to buying tickets for this artist at a different venue)?
  6. Affix the concert ticket (or a copy of it) to the journal page and write about the process of buying it.
  7. Affix any other ephemera (or a picture of it) to the journal page. E.g. A concert program, a piece of confetti shot out of a cannon. Write about its purpose at the concert. What excites or interests you about it?
  8. What did you wear? Why?
  9. Describe the process of traveling to the venue. Was it fun? Why? Why not?
  10. What are your two favorite compositions or songs from this artist? Why?
  11. How many more of this artist’s concerts would you like to attend?
  12. Has this artist inspired you in some way? Describe how.
  13. What do you think this artist’s career will be like in ten years?
  14. Where did you go after the concert? Who was there with you?
  15. Will you ever be able to return to life as usual? (Sure you will. Just give yourself a couple of weeks. :))

 

All the best,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts for Aunts and Uncles

You are an aunt or uncle and you have read the tips for being the best aunt or uncle ever. Tip number six is to savor the moments. One way to savor the moments is through journal writing.

The following writing prompts are not only to help you 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.

Let’s get started.

Journal Prompts for Aunts or Uncles

  1. How many nieces and/or nephews do you have?
  2. How would you like them to remember you?
  3. What traditions would you like to begin or maintain in the lives of your nieces /nephews?
  4. What does being the best Aunt or Uncle mean to you? What does it look like?
  5. How can you set aside time to know your nieces /nephews and their goals in life?
  6. How can you help them achieve their goals?
  7. What is your relationship like with their parents (or the people who are raising them)?
  8. How can you improve or maintain your relationship with the parental figures so that you may continue to have access to the little ones?
  9. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what do they need from you now that you did not or could not provide in their childhood (For instance, a routine or act might not have been appropriate for the age or mental development of the child)? How can you incorporate whatever the newer elements are into your relationship?
  10. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what should you now omit from your relationship that was appropriate when they were children, but does not help them to progress today?
  11. If your nieces /nephews are adults, what traditions will you continue from their childhood?
  12. “I feel loved when my Aunt/ Uncle does______.” How would your nieces /nephews complete that sentence?
  13. What are your Aunts /Uncles like?
  14. What have your Aunts /Uncles taught you that you will add to the relationship you have with your nieces /nephews?
  15. How can you encourage your nieces/nephews to write in journals?
  16. Create journals about your nieces/nephews which
    • Record thoughts you want them to remember
    • Capture words or concepts that they have uttered to you
    • Include pictures of them, pictures of them with you
    • Include notes from them
    • Tell them about your childhood relationship with your sibling(s)
    • You present as a gift to them at some point (You can leave the journals to them in your will, even.)

Peace be with you,

Deborah

JOURNALING · REVIEWS · Writing

The Q & A a Day 5-Year Journal and The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal [A Double Review]

Yours truly started writing in both the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal and the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book back in October of 2015. I committed to writing in them for just over a year before putting them to rest. They did not work for the way I journal, but they might work for you.

Both of the 5-Year Journals use the same principle – they are each a “condensed, comparative record for five years, for recording events most worthy of remembrance,” according to One Line a Day.

Each page has Month and Day printed on it; it also has five sections on it. Each section is comprised of a space for a year date and a handful of blank lines.

Additionally, Q& A a Day gives you 365 one sentence questions to answer, such as ” If you were a literary character, who would you be?”

One Line a Day comes with a ribbon page marker. Q& A does not.

Both The One Line a Day Journal and Q&A Journal might be for you…

  • … if you prefer a small, hand-sized journal that can fit in your purse (But not your clutch. I have tried it.)
  • …if you have little time but want to jot something down in a journal
  • …if you do not need much space for writing all your thoughts
  • …if a larger blank page is intimidating
  • …if you would like to have notes from 5 years of your life on one page (That’s the most awesome feature.)

Additionally, the Q&A a Day Journal might work for you…

  • …if you need a random prompt every day
  • …if you are just getting started and you don’t know what to write about yet

Additionally, The One Line a Day 5-Year Journal might work for you…

  • …if you want to note a few ideas for a specific topic (e.g. This journal might be great for guests to leave a note about their stay in your rental space; it might also be a great health progress journal – just enough space for a few stats; it might be your gratitude journal.)
  • …if you want to give it as a present to a child. (The other journal, the Q& A Journal, assumes that teens or adults are using the journal. The questions reflect this audience.)
  • …if you prefer a ribbon bookmark already in the book.

Neither journal might be for you…

  • …if you prefer leather journals. They are made of some kind of heavy cardboard.  (You can have them rebound in leather.)
  • …if you feel like you’re about to explode from all the things you didn’t write because there is not enough space to contain your genius!
  • …if you prefer wide journals.
  • …if you prefer to journal with a fountain pen. (My fountain pen bleeds through both.)

I love the idea of seeing 5 consecutive years of the same day on 1 page. Seeing your progress (or lack of it) is fascinating. The concept is great. I just need more space to write; I like to write anywhere from  2 pages (average) to about 10 pages a day.

Because I was also writing extensively in my main journal, the 5-year journals became a brief summary of something I had already written. The redundancy really burdened me. I began skipping days in the 5-year journals, then writing in them retroactively. It was a mess.

If a 5-Year Journal was my only journal, of the two, I would go for the One Line A Day version. There are no prompts to ignore, so it’s a miniature version of my main journal.

I also feel a little sick to my stomach that I recorded pretty much the same activities on the same days of the year – I had not altered my life one bit. My lack of progress was staggering. And the year had gone by so fast! I might return to this journal one day, just for that kick in the pants.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. You may purchase  the Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal or the One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book by clicking on the titles.

P.P.S. Have you used one of these journals? What did you think?

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts – a Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children (Heirloom Journals)

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 a Journal That You Will Leave to Your Children (Heirloom Journals)

  1. Tell your children how much you love them.
  2. List and explain life concepts that you find imperative to know.
  3. What is your name? What is the name of the other parent?
  4. How did you meet the other parent? Describe this relationship.
  5. What are your children’s names? Why did you name them this?
  6. Describe something that is unique about each of your children.
  7. Describe a special moment that you have enjoyed with each of your children.
  8. When were you born?
  9. When were your children born?
  10. Where were you born?
  11. Where were your children born?
  12. Where did you live during childhood? Did you enjoy it? Why? Why not?
  13. Where did you raise/are you raising your children? (Author’s note: The early years are especially crucial to record, since the children might not recall the details.)
  14. Who raised you? What is your relationship like with your parents or parental figures?
  15. Describe your childhood.
  16. Describe what you hope your children will take from their childhood.
  17. Do you have siblings? List your siblings. Explain what your relationship was like with them in childhood and what the relationship is like now.
  18. Describe what you’ve learned from your relationship with your siblings.
  19. Did you have pets as a child? How was that experience for you?
  20. What were your favorite toys?
  21. What from your childhood have you incorporated into your parenting?
  22. What from your childhood have you not permitted in your parenting?
  23. What traditions would you prefer that you children maintain?
  24. How would you prefer that your children remember you?
  25. Share quotes from your favorite people – e.g. relatives, authors, speakers, neighbors, etc.
  26. List and explain books, songs, or other media that you want your children to remember.
  27. What are your food preferences?
  28. What are your dietary restrictions?
  29. Are any of your food choices related to significant family traditions? Explain them.
  30. Quote your children, anything that stands out to you. (Author’s note: It has been my experience that older children ask, “What was I like at the age of X? “ “Did I have a catchphrase back then?”)
  31. Affix notes from your children into the journal and explain the circumstances under which you gained possession of them.
  32. Who is someone important to you that your children never met? (e.g. Their deceased great grandfather) Describe that person.
  33. Explain why journaling is important and why you have given this journal to your children.
JOURNALING · Writing

Date Headers for Your Journals

When organizing a handwritten journal or day’s log, many people enjoy writing the day’s date at the top. To help your eyes see the start of your day’s entry with the greatest of ease, many journal writers embellish the date or create a unique header.

If you search online for “date headers,” you’ll find many ideas in the Bullet Journal community.

Here’s an article from Hannah Emily Lane on “Headers and Inspiration.”

Here’s another from Tiny Ray of Sunshine – “Add Stylistic Headers.”

I have created a few headers below that you can try.  You artsy folk can do it even better.

it's deborah - date header examples - with site logo
Here I’ve dashed off a few headers that, hopefully, with spark something in your own imagination.

 

 

Let me drop a word here. Please remember why you are journaling. Do not spend all your time trying to choose the “right” color or the “perfect” header or you’ll not actually write anything. Make progress, not perfection.  Yes, I mean you, Kimberly. Onward.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts for After Watching a Movie

Journal Prompts for After Watching a Movie

  1. What movie did you screen?
  2. Summarize the plot.
  3. What would you change about the plot?
  4. Why did you watch that movie?
  5. Where were you?
  6. Who was with you?
  7. Were there snacks involved? Which?
  8. Do you have a favorite actor in this film? Who?
  9. What would you change about the casting?
  10. If this is an old film, how would you re-cast it with actors working today?
  11. If this is a new film, how would you re-cast it with actors from the past?
  12. If it is a film from the early 20th century, compare it with the radio version of the film.
  13. Is this film up to the usual standards of this actor/ director/ writer/ studio/franchise? Why?
  14. How was the soundtrack? How was the score?
  15. Did you like the film? Why? Why not?
  16. Does this movie remind you of a different one?
  17. Is this a reboot, remake, sequel, pre-quel? How does it compare to the original?
  18. If this film is part of a series, rank each one.
  19. If this film is part of a series, what do you think is misunderstood about the series or its fans? What do you think is great about the series or its fans? What do you think could be better about this series?
  20. If you watched it in the theater, do you plan to purchase a copy later? Why? Why not?
  21. Discuss the poster art/ cover art for this film.
  22. Discuss the advertising for this film. Did it intrigue you?
  23. Is there memorabilia accompanying this film? Do you plan to purchase any? Why?

 

All the best,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Journal Prompts for After a Play or Musical

Have you attended a play or stage musical recently? Here are a few journal prompts to get you started writing about your experience.

Journal Prompts for After a Play or Musical

  1. Which Play/Musical did you attend?
  2. Where was the venue?
  3. What is interesting about the venue?
  4. Why did you attend this play?
  5. Who attended with you?
  6. When did you first hear of this production?
  7. Do you know people in the play (or behind the scenes) by name? List them and discuss why they interest you.
  8. Describe the plot.
  9. Does the plot (or do the characters) remind you of a different play?
  10. Does the plot (or do the characters) remind you of a different form of art or different discipline in life? E.g. The two lead characters in The Taming of the Shrew remind me of two boxers going in for the kill.
  11. Which actor caught your attention the most? Why?
  12. Which character surprised you the most?
  13. Which character is your favorite? Why?
  14. How were you dressed?
  15. Attach a photo of the evening (such as a selfie taken in the lobby or a picture of the program) and discuss it.
  16. Where did you go after the play? Why?
  17. What play/musical do you plan to attend next? Why?

All the best,

Deborah