Jot Down Your Laughter, Reread Later

Sometimes we need a laugh. Sometimes it helps to have a list of the situations where laughter is more likely to happen. With this we can revisit those times of pure mirth or recreate those circumstances to give ourselves a new laugh. Your journal can help in this endeavor.

For one week, write a quick note about what has made you laugh. If you can remember to do it immediately, that would be great. If you have a mobile device or a pocket notebook on you all day, jot down the moment. Otherwise, try to recall at the end of the day what made you laugh.

Jot down the circumstances, location, who was there (if anyone), a certain type of film, a certain performer, a certain type of book. What seems to have triggered the laugh? Was it a joke? Was it a pratfall? Was it that other people in the room were laughing?

For example,

“The baby giggled when we played on the living room carpet today. I found myself laughing as well.”


” I finished that autobiography from Mr. John Doe just now. It was largely sad, but when he referred to members of the invasive press not by their names but by types of insects, I chuckled a bit.”


“After the water runs in the kitchen sink, turn off the faucet. There is still a bit of water in the faucet spray hose. Press it. A spritz comes out. I laughed every time I did that today.”

Over time, you will see a pattern of the types of places and spaces conducive to laughter for you. You can use this list for nostalgia or to recreate the patterns that made you laugh in the first place. However you decide to use your list of laughter, I wish you…



How To Journal About Walking For Pleasure

Of the many topics one could write about in a journal, a regular walk is another subject that could grace the pages of your personal book. If you take a morning, mid-day, or evening constitutional or go hiking and enjoy it, writing about the walk can be fun.

Often when you search for discussions of walking journals they are for the purpose of measuring health, (e.g tracking heart rate, miles walked, etc.) which, of course, you can do.

However, what yours truly is advocating here is to use your journal for the expression of enjoyment of moving your body. Journaling about your walk can be a way of extending the pleasure of the activity.

Charles Dickens was fond of describing walks. In The Uncommercial Traveller, the author notes the following:

My walking is of two kinds: one, straight on end to a definite goal at a round pace; one, objectless, loitering, and purely vagabond.

Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveller

It’s a shame that Dickens describes his less-planned walks as objectless. Wandering and filling one’s senses with the world around is a wonderful thing. Sometimes the journey is the objective.

In any case, in writing about our walks, we are in good company. It is interesting how the author distinguishes his walks. How would you describe your walks?

The following are a few more questions to get you started on a walking journal for pleasure:


Do you like the area where you walk? Is it flat? Mountainous? Sandy? Residential? Public park? A trail in the back acreage?

Is your enjoyment derived not from the location but from the movement of your body? Or some other reason? Why?

How do you feel about the walk? Why?

What little details give you pleasure?

Do you walk alone or with a companion? The baby? The dog? Why? How does it make you feel?

Do you like to walk and listen to music? How about podcasts? Is the sound a distraction or an enhancement? Does the sound keep you from feeling bored? Why do you walk with extra sound in your ears?

When you walk do you think of other things, such as what you will have for dinner? Describe what you think about during these moments.

While you walk, do you produce ideas planning the next day? A few years from now? If so, what are those plans?

Is there a certain pair of shoes you enjoy using? Describe them. Do you walk barefoot?

If you art journal, could you illustrate something from your walks? How about printing an image of the area from an online map?

Do you take a camera with you on your walk? Do you take photos? Include them in your journal and use them as memory prompts.

Is there a preferred path? Where is it? Why do you prefer it?

Do you not think of anything in particular on the walk and just enjoy whatever stimuli you encounter (wind, rain, snow, the sight of squirrels)?

Is your walk scheduled and clear about its destination? Do you wander more?

Do you take food or beverage on your walk? Why? What is it?

Is it a leisurely walk or more brisk? If it might take longer, do you sometimes opt for a picnic along the way?


Walking can be fun. Perhaps we can capture the pleasure of walks in a journal.



Journaling On a Picnic (Story Time #4)

Some of my most memorable journaling from childhood was on a picnic. I would not journal while on a picnic with other people; it was often a solo venture to the backyard.

Whether it was after school or a random summer day, I would grab a book, a journal, a ball point pen, a blanket, and (depending on the season) cherry tomatoes from the garden or apples slices in vinegar, and sit in the backyard reading and writing.

I would write about school, the family, or what I dreamed of doing some day. I would attempt poetry and know it was terrible. Then I would switch to reading the book of the moment and wonder when I would write as well as this author.

An introvert, I needed time alone after spending all day around people at school, or after playing with friends on a Saturday. Those times with other people were fine, but one was always in that space having to answer questions, having to be social, having to perform.

Yet, here in the out-of-doors, I performed for no one but myself. (Well, maybe for the birds who sometimes wanted a morsel or two.) Despite my frustration at the quality of the writing, it was satisfying to try to improve. Being in a space of writing for the fun of it, not feeling that one must be onstage at all times was a privilege and a necessity that I did not fully recognize at the time.

On the blanket, the wind would whip around me and blow my pages around, insisting that I shut the book and pay attention to nature. I would comply.

Through the years, the need of the journal on a picnic increased. It is a simple, safe space in a complex world. As you age, society requires you to step outside, not for the solace of the birds, nor to feel the wind, but to perform onstage to ever increasing audiences as the marker of your value in your industry.

However, my journal (7 inches by 9 inches) on a twin size blanket, performing for my own pleasure is the greatest stage I ever want to play.



More of Deborah’s Personal Journaling Story Time

A Movie Titan’s Journal and What We Can Learn from It (Journal Writers #6)

Movie studio head, director, philanthropist, and compassionate billionaire Tyler Perry is known for his comedies and dramas. What might be less well known is that he uses journals.

According to Success Magazine (as well as numerous interviews of the director), at a young age, Perry watched the Oprah Winfrey Show wherein the talk show host encouraged everyone to use a journal for catharsis.

Perry’s experiences were enough to break most people. The pain and anger grew inside him like a fire, eating away at him. It wasn’t until he caught an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show championing the therapeutic benefits of writing about your experiences that Perry’s outlook began to change.

Roger Brooks, Success Magazine- February 1, 2023

Finding self-therapy by being able to offload the problems onto the page helped to lighten his load at a young age and encouraged him to continue living.

However, there was another problem – the fear of others reading his private writings.

But even in the private pages of his diary, he couldn’t be truly honest about his tragic upbringing. Fearful others might read his words, he invented characters who revealed his experiences and feelings. In the process, he let the hate and venom flow through his pen. He was still livid, but he had a place to siphon off the bile when it threatened to overwhelm him.

Roger Brooks, Success Magazine- February 1, 2023

Some of characters he created when he couldn’t write about himself in the journal became the basis for characters he would later write into plays and films.

One take away from this story, in addition to the catharsis that sometimes comes with journaling, is that when you do not feel comfortable writing as yourself, you can write as a different character or write as if talking about someone else.

Wherever you are in your journaling journey, I wish you…



Skipped a Day of Journaling? Feel Like a Failure? Here’s a Thought.

If you have the habit of writing in a journal daily, but you have skipped a day or more and feel like a failure, here are a few tips. (If you don’t feel like a failure, that’s great. This might not be the article for you.)

    If you find yourself missing your daily writing habit, especially if it starts happening often, reassess why you write every day.

    1. If you write every day for discipline reasons, if you write to give yourself the habit, then you might need to address what interrupted your flow yesterday and how we can eliminate this problem and give you the uninterrupted time you need.

    Do you write at a busy time of day when everyone wants something from you? Then it might be time to write before everyone in the house awakens, or after everyone goes to bed.

    Do you normally write in long paragraphs and you knew you wouldn’t have time for that so you did not write at all yesterday? Next time, write a sentence or two. Stick to your routine, even if the result is not ideal on that day.

    Did you not feel like writing yesterday? Why? That might be a topic to explore in today’s journal entry. Do some freewriting (i.e. just write whatever you think about a subject) to get to the root. e.g. I know a person who could not figure out why she was not writing every day. Eventually, she stopped writing altogether and felt like a failure until she began to freewrite and discover why – her parents were always strict. In trying to create a daily habit of journaling, her inner child felt oppressed again, too many rules. After that revelation, she decided to write whenever she felt like it, and began to enjoy the process of writing, even if it wasn’t every day.

    Do you give yourself the best possible chance to succeed at daily writing by making it easy to do? If you keep your journal where it is easily accessible for you, you are more likely to do it. e.g. There is a person who keeps a large journal propped open on his desk. Every time he passes the desk, he is reminded to write something.

    2. If you write every day to brag that you write every day, then I cannot help you. This sounds like a form of perception management that is best discussed with a therapist. I wish you the best.

    3. If you write daily because you enjoy re-reading your entries, then perhaps retroactive journaling might be the way for you. The following tips are best if you have a space all laid out for the day’s entry and just did not write in it so it is blank.

    Write yesterday’s missing journal entry so that you can have the information. The data is still fresh enough in your mind the next day; jot it down and back date it.

    Write yesterday’s activities in today’s journal entry. e.g. “Yesterday I went to the store and bought a bushel of apples. Today I am trying out an apple cobbler recipe.” If you do this, then you can use yesterday’s blank space for doodles or art.

    —You might not have written in a paper journal yesterday, but there might be a trace of you from that day in some other media. Did you take a photo yesterday? Put that in the journal and back date it, using the image to prompt your memory.

    —Let’s say that the day that you skipped journaling is farther back than yesterday and you cannot recall what you did or how you felt. Look at the search history on your mobile device or desktop. This will give you a glimpse of what you were thinking that day. Did you search for paste in your area? Will that prompt the memory of making a papier-mâché dog? Look at receipts (paper or digital). Did you fill up your gas tank using a rewards card? Was that the day you took a trip out of town? Write about it.

    — Let’s say that you cannot remember what happened that day, or you would rather not recall what happened that day. Then write in general terms about how you have felt lately, as opposed to activities on the specific day. You can write about your latest music playlist, a particular movie genre you have explored lately, a thought that you’ve ruminated over for a while, etc.

    Ultimately, don’t berate yourself about missing a day of daily writing. Grieve the loss of the time you could have spent journaling, if you need to do that. After that, find your way forward.



    Most Popular Journaling Articles of 2022

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


    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.

    Moving House and Journaling. Will You Have Time?

    Will you have time to write in a paper 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? Why journal in the midst of moving house? A few reasons.

    1. A journal writer becomes raw, unpolished, and truthful in the rush of the moment. Your real thoughts come out.
    2. Journaling in the rush of moving homes preserves the expectations of your new life in your new home. In this way, months or years later, you can compare the dream with your new reality and determine whether they match, determine whether the dream remains the same. It is from this treasure of information that you can find the best way forward if you haven’t yet created the dream life.
    3. It is fun to get a glimpse of an old house or apartment if happy memories are there. Take a photo of the old place before, during, or after packing for nostalgia.
    4. It is useful to show your future self how you organized the move should you need to move again.

    Let’s say you have stopped in the middle of packing to eat lunch. 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.

    For example, in my last move, I made a video diary of getting the post office box keys in my new town; I described feeling like a local. It wasn’t unpacking boxes that first made me feel at home, it was the keys. I had no idea that would make me feel so connected to my new city.

    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. These will provide tons of nostalgia some day.

    For example, the other year when I moved, I made audio diaries. When traveling to my new town I listened to these old audio diaries and 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.

    Eventually, I got around to the paper diary to write my feelings and save space for photos. Still, I’m so glad to have taken the time to record what I was thinking in other media during a transition. I wouldn’t have remembered what I felt in the hustle and bustle of traveling, and unpacking, and getting the electricity company to turn on everything, etc.

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



    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 in journal 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.



    Bird Watching Journal Tips (for beginners)

    Are you a novice bird watcher? How would you keep track of the first time that you see a species of our avian friends? Journaling might be an answer. Here are some ideas to ponder.

    Bird Watching Journal Prompts

    • Where were you when you spotted the bird?
    • What is the name of the species?
    • What is the date when you spotted the bird?
    • Any other notes, such as “The Eastern Bluebird that I saw is too far west. I have never seen any here in California.”

    One might even buy a pre-made bird watcher’s journal for this purpose, especially if you intend to answer the same questions for each bird.

    Photos to enhance the journal

    Images can enhance the journal. To capture the image, one can use a bird feeder to allow for a closer look and a more consistent flow of birds to your window.

    Leave your camera at the window with the bird feeder. You can leave it running for a certain length of time when the birds usually come around and later grab stills from the footage to include in your journal.

    If you have time, you can lie in wait and take a photo in person. Hopefully, you will not disturb them. Hopefully, you have a decent lens.

    If you have not yet mastered bird photos. . .

    Yours truly has had very little success with taking decent bird photos. They are usually blurred and I need a better lens, or I am too late and they have flown away.

    One can content oneself in describing the bird in the journal, or drawing it, or using public domain photos of the species from Pixabay until getting better at taking bird photos.

    Beyond the bird feeder

    The Audobon Society suggests investing in binoculars for your outdoor bird watching pleasure. There are also binoculars with built-in cameras, which might assist in taking those coveted bird photos.

    If you are out and about beyond your bird feeder, not necessarily bird watching, yet you unexpectedly see a new species, quickly jot down your discovery. A pocket journal might be good for this task, or the Notes app on your phone. This author rarely ventures outside the house without some way to journal.

    If you spot a bird that is unfamiliar to you, use the app or website by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to identify the species.

    Read more tips on bird watching at the Audobon Society.



    Journals Helped to Make The Woman King (2022) (Journal Writers #5)

    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.



    How to Use One Journal for 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.



    Intimidated by a Journal?

    Leaving a Trace by Alexandra Johnson is a book about appreciating the process of journaling. The book is part musings on the concept of journal keeping and part journal prompts.

    In an early chapter, the author reminds you that the object which you use for journaling can be the reason that you do not journal often. The author purchased Italian leather journals and never used them. They seemed too perfect for everyday scribbling. When she gave them away and continued to write in her cheap notebooks, the flow of writing returned.

    If one is reticent to write, could there be a sense of intimidation in the presence of your tools? In what ways have you helped yourself over this intimidation and writer’s rut? Try a different personal book and see whether that helps.



    Writing To Someone in the Journal

    Another way to journal is to write an entry as if you are writing a letter.
    Imagine writing to a trusted friend or confidante; what would you say to them today? Write this letter in your journal.

    This format of epistolary journaling is also helpful if one is leaving an heirloom journal. What would you like those you leave behind to know? Jim Rohn, an avid journal writer and speaker, would jot down as much wisdom as he could for many years and left those volumes for his children.

    Some have said that writing a letter to a loved one that you have lost can also be helpful with the grief process.

    Even if you don’t use “Dear diary,” this format of letter writing within the journal can be useful to jumpstart an entry, to be a journal prompt.

    What warm, non judgmental friend would you like to write to today? If you cannot think of someone to whom to write, can you imagine someone who would like a letter and write to them in your journal?



    Author Kyoko Mori Discusses a Personal Journey with Journals (Journal Writers #4)

    The journal, “allows me to find out what my ideas are without boring another person with an observation I haven’t yet made clear to myself…” – Kyoko Mori

    Are you reading my mind? Is what I thought when I first read what Mori has written. I, too, prefer to gather my thoughts in writing first before talking.

    Mori is a writer who contributed to the journaling anthology titled Writers and Their Notebooks. The author mentions many uses of journals while weaving in her personal story.

    Her grandfather would journal with a fountain pen about the state of his garden, or about spending time with his grandchildren. He would do so every day at a certain time. He would never express his disappointments or regrets in his personal book.

    The author recalls sitting with him as a child and writing in a journal in which each page was divided in half- a blank space at the top for photos or illustrations and lines at the bottom for words.

    The author would also describe her day of swimming, or eating produce from the garden, etc.

    The writer describes their mother as one who would express her grief in a journal after the family moved far away from friends. Journaling was sporadic.

    Mori describes journal habits as an adult as being a combination of these two adults from childhood – allowing for the description of emotion, if needed, like the mother, and some order like the grandfather (sans fountain pen).

    Mori goes on to say that journaling is sometimes used for travel, but it is also used to remember the people who are long gone, putting memories down on paper.

    Whatever your reason for journaling, I hope you find it fulfilling and useful.



    Who Are You? 3 Journal Prompts for Exploring Yourself

    Humans have many facets. This does not mean one is necessarily deceptive; it just means that we wear ourselves like clothes- often rearranging ourselves for that which is appropriate for the setting.

    With this in mind, here are 3 journal prompts to explore three of our facets.

    • Who are you in private?
    • Who are you with those closest to you?
    • Who are you in public?

    Remember to be gentle with yourself as you explore.



    To Preserve Your Journal,Use the 3-2-1 Archiving Concept

    If you want your journal to stick around for a while, you might try the 3-2-1 preservation concept.

    The 3-2-1 Preservation Concept:
    Possess at least 3 copies
    In at least 2 formats
    At least 1 is far away from the others.

    Purpose: To mitigate the risk of losing information by diversifying.

    Example: 3 Copies – If you have a physical journal, this is copy #1. Digitally scan your journal to your hard drive; this is copy #2. Upload the scans to a cloud; this is copy #3.
    At least 2 Formats – The physical journal and digital scans
    At least 1 copy elsewhere – The scans in the cloud are not in the house with the hard drive nor with the physical journal.



    Restoring a Chateau with Journals (Journal Writers #3)

    Journals can help the next generation to understand the past.

    A Youtuber is currently renovating a chateau which was previously owned by a millionaire but never lived in until children during World War II needed a safe space to live for the duration of the conflict.

    It is during that time of waiting that more than one occupant would write in a diary or journal, describing the building.

    The building has since partially burned down. A Youtuber has purchased the estate and uses the diaries to understand what each room looked like and where every room might have been.

    Often one believes that a diary or journal is mundane or not worth bothering. Actually, your journal might be of great importance to a future person who wants to understand the past.

    View Dan’s discussion of a diary as he cleans out a chateau basement on his channel Escape to Rural France:



    Diaries to Read, Part 1 (Available Online)

    It is useful at times to read published diaries and get a feel for why and how others have taken up the pen. Some have written with the expectation of readers, others not so much. The common denominator is that these are diaries which are in the public domain and available to read for free online. Enjoy.

    Emilie Davis (1839-1889) – A civilian’s diary during the U.S. Civil War. Emilie Davis was free African American woman living in Philadelphia while writing in the diary. It was a pocket diary with a few blank lines for every day. Pennsylvania State University houses the digital scans.

    Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) During the plague in London in 1665, the author who would later write Robinson Crusoe kept a diary of the horrors he witnessed, later publishing the sensational journal. A Journal of the Plague Year is available at Project Gutenberg as a transcription of the original journal.

    Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904) – A Swiss-Russian traveler who explored the Sahara was a prolific writer and diarist. Eberhardt at times disguised herself as a man to be able to travel with little incident. Her surviving diary entries were compiled and published in a book titled, Isabelle Eberhardt, ou, la Bonne nomade: d’après des documents inédits. The English title is The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt. This diary is available online at Project Gutenberg in French. For a translation, you will need to purchase the book wherever books are sold.

    Matthew Henson (1866-1955) In the autobiography of Matthew Henson called A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, the author weaves his personal history with his diary entries from the last expedition of the Peary Arctic Club. They give context to who he is and what the group set out to explore. You can find it at Project Gutenberg and Google Books.

    Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)The diaries of Pepys are online as a personal project of a tech enthusiast in Herefordshire named Phil Gyford. They are a transcription of the diaries rather than a digital scan. Pepys was a young civil servant in London starting his diary in 1660 and stopping a decade later. You will find ruminations of his daily schedule.

    Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) Digital scans of diaries from U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s collection are available at the Roosevelt Center. You can see his diary from the age of 9, his teen years, his diaries during law school, and as a member of the New York State Assembly, as president, training for war, travel diaries, etc.

    Robert Scott (1868-1912) – Captain Robert Scott let British Antarctic expeditions -the Discovery (1901–1904) and Terra Nova (1910–1913). The Terra Nova Antarctic Diaries are available at the British Library to read online. The diaries, “document all aspects of the expedition, including: · the voyage · establishment of the winter base · scientific work · sledging expeditions,” according to the British Library. Interestingly, Scott “wrote most of his entries sequentially on one side of the page, leaving the other side blank,” says the British Library. “In some instances he later used the blank pages to write further entries, reversing the diary and writing from the back of the volume forwards. These entries appear upside down in the original volumes,” they continue. The website allows you to rotate the diary so that one does not need to read it upside down; they also have a transcription in san serif typeface for easier reading.



    Book Store Serendipity (Story Time #1)


    Enjoy the journey of finding the proper journal for your needs. I currently use a certain brand that has worked for the needs of my main journal for the last few years. I do not anticipate moving on from them.

    However, in earlier days, I would randomly search the shelves of a book store or two for a new diary. I still do, from time to time, to see what is available.

    I recall once spotting a journal on the shelves of an independent bookstore during my university days. It had a magnetic closure. 7 inches by 9 inches – just wide enough for my hand to fit inside and rest on the pages as I would write. It sported pastel, horizontal stripes.

    It had a name – Tribeca by Peter Pauper Press. The stripes were to mimic the awnings in New York City’s Tribeca area. How charming.

    However, the stripes reminded me of a skirt that Pier Angeli wears in a photo shoot with Vic Damone in the 1950s. She wears a dark blue turtleneck, black belt, an a-line, tea length skirt with light blue, white, and black horizontal stripes. Old Hollywood reminds me of my childhood when we would watch such people play around on the screen at home and marvel at the talent.

    Thus, every time that I would write in the Tribeca journal was a pleasure. To this day, long after I have filled its pages to the brim with thoughts and ramblings, I still smile when I see it in my collection.

    There is something wonderful about the serendipity of finding a journal. Take a journey through a store and see the many different choices that await you. You might find one you like or inexplicably love.



    More of Deborah’s Personal Journaling Story Time

    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.

    Journal Prompts for Holidays

    1. Recall your earliest memory of the holiday or festivities.
    2. Do you have related ephemera that you can attach to the journal? e.g. A photo, a concert ticket, a leaf from a long walk?
    3. Do you have a favorite part of the holiday? Is your favorite part when it is all over? Write that down.
    4. Where were you during the holidays?
    5. If you celebrate with others, who attended the festivities?
    6. If you celebrate with others, what excites you about the gathering?
    7. If you celebrate with others, what could be improved in the gathering?
    8. If you celebrate with others, what is it about this gathering that induces you to attend?
    9. Was there travel involved? Describe the trip. Was it fun? Why? Why not?

    I wish you peace,


    Use the Acronym G.L.A.D. as a Daily Journal Prompt

    Perhaps you can use a regular set of prompts for your journal. I like to use the acronym G.L.A.D. as headings for some of my daily writing. I grabbed this prompt from somewhere on the internet years ago. This article from Norton Healthcare is the closest I have come to finding its origin: Try the GLAD technique to foster gratitude and push out negativity

    Here is my way of doing this popular journal prompt technique.

    G is for Gratitude. I write a sentence about that for which I am grateful. This gets me out of any sour mood that I might have when I realize that life isn’t as bad I think. Or perhaps it IS as terrible as I think, but there is still a rainbow in the clouds. I like looking back on this section of my diary whenever I feel gloomy. This is a challenging one as I want to be able to look back on more than just “I am grateful to be alive.” I force myself to dig deeper for gratitude, to be specific, for my future self.

    L is for Lesson. I have to write down a lesson learned for the day. That is actually difficult for me. However, in anticipation of this part of the journal, I make sure to learn something during the day to incorporate into this section.

    A is for Accomplishment. What did I achieve today? Even if the achievement is that I hopped out of bed when I did not feel like it, or that I have been consistent in some goal, I write it down. It does not have to be an epic accomplishment every day.

    D is for Delight. For some reason the idea of delight means to me to remember your day as if you were a child. What would have been awe-inspiring to your younger self? When I think of the answer to that question, somewhere in there, around the corner is a sense of delight for me. You may interpret the word “Delight” in any way you choose. It is just another way to appreciate your day.

    From G.L.A.D. to G.L.A.A.D.E.- an Expansion

    This week, I have expanded G.L.A.D. to G.L.A.A.D.E. which is not nearly as pithy and catchy, but it helps me to remember what I want to write about. I have added an A and an E to expand what I want to write about every day.

    G is for Gratitude

    L is for Lesson

    A is for Accomplishment (Today)

    A is for Accomplishment (Expected Tomorrow). This is to remind me to plan more.

    D is for Delight

    E is for Encourage Yourself. Give yourself a pep talk. Say things such as,”I know this day did not end the way you wanted, but you have weathered this before and you can do it again.”

    Hopefully this can be of use to someone.



    A Filmmaker’s Diary: Orson Welles Talks about the Friend Who Used a Diary to Think Through the Film Version of Othello (Journal Writers #2)

    Filmmaker and raconteur Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) made a film version of Othello with a friend who kept a diary of the entire process and published the diary in 1952. The book is called Put Money in Thy Purse: The Diary of the Film of Othello by Micheál Mac Liammóir, for which Welles has written the Forward.

    In the Forward, Welles, in his cheeky humor, eviscerates anyone who would keep a diary, calling such a habit one’s “darkest secret.” Welles notes that his friend is a wonderful person who lavishes the atmosphere with “pleasant oils and balms of good humor.” However, the “addiction to diaries” is a vice, he says, like any other, which leads to bad character, such as being “an incurable snoop,” a vice to which Welles himself confesses. Knowing the habits of your friends, and possibly writing them down, keeps one’s friends ever dependent on your kindness to jot them down in a pleasant light.

    All the mock horror aside, I do enjoy that Welles describes a diarist as one who has “arranged a sort of rendezvous with posterity.” What a lovely thought! You and I who write in diaries, journals, logs, or whatever you want to call them, are meeting with those in the future, if we so choose to leave our diaries behind to be read, giving them a weight and importance that the banality of everyday life often shrouds. Just a thought.



    Your 5 Senses as Journal Prompts

    Here’s one way to journal if

    … you have not yet started

    …do not know what to say

    … would like to recall a moment more vividly later

    …or have not journaled in a long time and need a boost.

    Use your senses!

    Ask yourself the following:

    1. What do I see right now?
    2. What scent or scents do I smell right now?
    3. What do I hear?
    4. What do I taste right now?
    5. What texture is in contact with my body? Or what does my body feel right now?

    It has been my experience that when you are this detailed, you remember the moment better. I do this prompt at funerals when I want to remember not only who was there, but the texture of the pew, the smell of someone’s perfume as they hug me, etc.

    Truth be told, the taste one is usually the one I have to stretch to find. I am not usually eating and journaling simultaneously. I often end up describing the taste of toothpaste,but that is ok. It is the truth. Tailor the prompts to fit your reality and your world.

    I bid you peace,


    Image as Journal Prompt

    Use an image as a 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.

    If it is a personal photo, who is in the picture? Where are they? Let yourself tell the story of what led to this moment in the photo, or what happened after. Or perhaps, you can use the personal photo to write details about an individual that you know.

    If the image is not personal to you, such as an image from a magazine, you can still use it as a journal prompt. You can recount why you selected that image, where it comes from, what it reminds you of, how it inspires you (or not).



    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 have you accomplished which would have impressed YOU 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?