Do you keep a journal? We can find plenty of good reasons for not keeping one -but so many more to encourage you!

A journal is yours. You may write whatever and however you wish. Daily writing in a journal is a bit like going for a run, your daily yoga practice, or swimming lengths of the pool. You often don’t feel like it, but feel better when you do. It strengthens the writing muscles, both literally and figuratively. Writing regularly feeds the writing mind and opens up your thoughts.

A journal can be a place for writing down incidents and events that, although they’re small, provide examples of larger concerns we believe to be important. Many children we know value their journals as a place where they can sort out their feelings and worries, where they can celebrate the good things and work through some of the more troubling ones.

Journals can become memory boxes. Even the briefest of entries will bring back to you a moment, a day, a particular feeling. Peter Stillman suggests we think of journals as nets where we can catch the golden particles of the day. Here is part of what he has to say in The Journal Book, edited by Toby Fulwiler:

Journals provide a way for people to talk to themselves on paper. There are times, though, when we don’t want to “talk” – when filling the blank spaces with words seems a terrible effort. At times like these – and all journal-keepers experience them – the journal becomes the symbol of the discipline that all writers, you included, need. May Sarton, a poet and novelist, wrote this one day: -“I have not felt like writing in this journal. It lies in wait each morning and I long to put it off.” (note that she wrote just the same) Why should we write when we don’t feel like writing? Not for practice. Not to prove that we’re not lazy. And certainly not just to keep our journal entries neatly up to date. We should write because there’s always something to discover, and the privacy of a journal provides the best place for finding out. 

Peter Stillman


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