My freshmen year of high school, my grandma gave me a journal. She had started journaling her freshmen year and still does every single day. I had tried, and failed, to keep a diary before but I thought I would give it another whirl now that I was older. Now I'm about ready to graduate college and have since filled up at least seven journals. I'm not going to lie, I have become an obsessive archivist, and while most people loathe the idea of daily journaling, I can't picture my day without it. Here's why:
Reason #1: I'm an anxious person. I don't understand how regular people can fall asleep thirty minutes after getting into bed. I'm up at least an hour or two every night just lying awake, begging my brain to turn off and let me get some sleep! I worry about everything from homework due the next day to that stupid thing I said in class in the third grade that earned me a time out. It's ridiculous, but journaling has helped. I give myself an hour to wind down at night and part of my routine includes getting out my notebook and writing down my day. It may read as one of the most mundane things ever composed, my life isn't too glamorous, but it helps me to get my worries out.
Reason #2: I'm a busy person. Some days, I regret to say it, I don't make enough time to just sit down and write. Even though I end up recording yawn-worthy stuff like what I ate for lunch and how long it took me to do my homework, it is still keeping my writing skills sharp. Being creative with the ordinary stuff of life is a great exercise for any writer's brain.
Reason #3: Crazy stuff happens! There are days, glorious days, when something extremely noteworthy does occur and I have a place ready where I can record every single detail. The summer after graduating high school, for example, has a lot of entries about reading on the back porch and watching my dad barbecue. But then one day a guy I know calls me up, asks me out to a dance, and a few short years later he has become my fiancé. Reading my journals, I can see our relationship grow from first date to engagement and it is pretty fun to be able to see that larger picture.
Reason #4: My family suffers from "caught up in the details" syndrome. Sometimes someone will be telling a family story and before we even get to the good part, we're stuck arguing about who sat in the back seat of the car and who sat in the front, or what town we made a pit stop at. Since I am the family archivist, I can usually whip out my journal, set the record straight (cause my word is law ya know) and we can move on to the funny anecdote.
Reason #5: I'm kind of self-absorbed in that I fancy my writing will matter to future generations. Maybe my grandkids will care, maybe they won't, but I do think there is some value in capturing daily life the way it is right now. Reading the short snippets of writing I did when I was in grade school is hilarious. You forget what is important to a seven year old and what events are worth writing down. I'm sure the things I write about while I am going through college will hold just as much humor when I read my current journals years down the road. Besides, even if posterity doesn't give a hoot, I still do and there are some things I want to remember exactly how they are. I want to remember the names of my high school and college friends, I want to be able to recall the park where my boyfriend proposed and the type of day, I want to bring back the jokes and family stories that go around the dinner table during Christmas. Those small things are important and they make us who we are.
I understand people's aversion to journaling and it definitely isn't for everyone. Still, I feel like it kind of gets a bad rap. There are a lot of benefits to keeping a journal and I hope the idea won't be totally dismissed. It's a built in time for practicing and it helps you to become a more disciplined writer. If you're not a daily journaler, just keep a travel log whenever you go somewhere or write down only the major events that happen in your life. It's worth a try!
Hi, I'm Jessica! I'm on a mission to make my writing better in hopes of becoming a published novelist. It's been a crazy journey so far as I learn the twists and turns of the publishing world, but it's been worth it. Though I'm still learning how to be the best writer I can be, I'm excited to share what I learn with you. Happy writing!