If you don’t journal you may have no idea why it’s one of my favorite things. If you do keep a journal, then I feel safe in continuing on with the expectation you will understand completely where I’m coming from.I’ve been keeping a journal ever since I was a kid. I remember my very first diary as a young child, given to me for a Christmas present. It came with a lock and a key and was a place where I could write my daily thoughts, special memories and also my most secret feelings.
Ever since I began making daily entries in that very first diary as a kid, writing has been a way of life for me but I never really looked at it that way until recently. I never looked at my journals as a form of writing; I viewed them as a form of expression and not necessarily a part of myself I would ever share with anyone else. For me, journaling is a great release…whether I’m happy, mad, upset, sad, exhausted, confused, or all the above, writing is a way to release those feelings and it helps to work things out and possibly answer lingering questions in my mind.There are times when reading back through old journals is therapeutic for me. For most of us, we have many memories but it is easy to forget the details of the past. I journal because having it all written down means I don’t have to lose the details of my past memories. I pride myself on a fairly good memory but if I am fortunate enough to live a very long life, there will be many details I will forget as new memories are constantly being made or as my mind fades when I eventually grow old.
My favorite journals to read back through are the ones I filled with entries as my husband and I dealt with the day-to-day parenting of our sons, which has now consumed almost half my journaling life. These journals include the highs and the lows I experienced as a new mother and later the joys and worries I expressed as I have watched both my sons mature into young men. While the journals remind me how truly exhausting it was to raise young children, reading through the entries is a treasure trove of stories, funny exploits, cute quotes from my sons and some of the fondest memories I will ever have.So why did I only recently view journaling as a way of writing?
Last month I wrote a post titled, Time to Manage TimeManagement, and in that post I spoke about a few new books I had come across. One of them, Writer with a Day Job, had a chapter about journal writing. In that chapter, the author, Aine Greaney, speaks about the writing workshops she provides and how she asks her students to complete a short exercise to get started. With these exercises and based on her own experience, she can usually tell which of the students most likely kept journals.Greaney went on to make some very interesting points. She believes there are common traits among journal writers, starting with how many of them might swear they are beginning writers while their work really never sounds or reads that way. The journal writers instead show a practiced fluidity to their writing which also shows a familiarity with language and the written word. The writing also appears to be written by someone who has built up their writing muscle and who has spent a lot of time up close and personal with words.
Why did this particular excerpt from the book strike me?Because it made me look at myself differently. Even when others have read my work and praised me for it, I wasn’t convinced I could call myself a writer. From the very beginning when I finally decided to tackle a book, I was afraid to call myself a writer because I thought I had to complete a book to earn that title. I had faith in my abilities but I was looking towards what I would become in the future, not realizing what I had already become in the present.
I was finally able to admit I have been a writer all my life.Now that I’ve written a book, I consider myself an author. And very soon, I will be calling myself a published author.
With each step, my writing life is growing and it just keeps getting better and better.What do you do to remember the good times, the bad times and everything in between? Do you keep a journal? Have you kept a journal all your life or only recently? Do you think it helps you? What are your thoughts?