Saturday, April 1, 2017

5 Tips for Keeping a Journal

Do you want to keep a journal?  Do you want some sort of way to look into the thoughts of past-you and step back in time to when you were younger?  Do you want to crack open a memorial of your life when you are older?  Do you want to remember all the names of your friends and best moments?  Then journaling is for you!

Journals can be hard to keep though--I should really know since I have started a million and quit them.  But recently I have been doing a lot better, so here are some tips I have for keeping a journal.

Black and White Organizer Besides Red Click Pen

#1: Title Things

If you know you're going to encounter a certain person or location very often, it can be fun to start a sort of mini series in your journal and give it a catchy title.  For instance, maybe you have a crabby boss at work named Estevon, you could title your entries about his antics "Estevon's Escapades" and follow that with Part I, Part II, etc.

Giving your entries fun titles like this can encourage you to write about more things Estevon does because you'll want to add to the series, even if at the time you would think what happened wasn't that interesting.  I promise, a year later when you look back, you'll be happy you took the time to write about the mundane.

Young woman thinking with pen while working / studying at her desk

#2: Write Everything

Don't limit yourself to just recounting your day's events.  Write poetry, story ideas, quotes you like, notes you took during a documentary, etc.  This stuff will fill up your journal fast, and it still gives future you a window into what kind of stuff you were into when you were keeping your journal.  There may or may not be twenty pages of notes from a documentary on Western Philosophy in my journal...

Other things I have randomly jotted down are: baby name I like; songs I've learned on piano; my favorite quotes, etc.

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

#3: Treat Your Life as a Drama

It can be helpful to write your day in a very suspenseful way.  Take time to set the scene and describe what was happening.  This may seem boring at the time because obviously the event happened pretty recently, but you want to paint a picture in future you's mind.

I was re-reading my journal the other day, and I was laughing pretty hard because I wrote everything so dramatically with cliff hangers all over the place.  There were some pretty embarrassing things happening that were really interesting and cringy to re-read, and even though I knew how things would end, it was still hilarious to read my panic thoughts shortly after they happened.  That brings me to my next tip...

architecture, auditorium, chairs

#4: Reread Your Journal Often

Once you see the great progress you're making, you'll be more inspired to continue writing.  I started my most recent journal around December, but I went back in time to a really hilarious series of events that happened in September to write them down while I still remembered them clearly.

It's been a few months, and surprisingly I have forgotten a lot about what happened, even though they were a big deal at the time.  I am so happy I wrote everything down, because now I can relive all the moments through my journal.  This is definitely motivation to keep writing, because now I know I won't remember everything and it's worth it to copy things down.

book, break, camping

#5: Don't Expect Perfection

When you read something like the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, it seems like a journal should be written with little Latin phrases and quotable lines all over the place, but the truth is that you should really let loose and write how you would actually speak.  

This will offer more insight into what you were thinking when you're older, rather than being language that's too formal.  Also, if you're stressed about writing perfectly, then you will never get anywhere and will end up with a blank journal.

Man Wearing Blue Dress Shirt While Painting


  1. To true! I agree with all of these! I love to re-read anything I write it's so much fun :)

    1. Thanks! And yeah, I agree it is fun :)

  2. Oh, yes, keeping a journal is so rewarding! I've been doing it since I was eight, although I haven't always been diligent about it. I go through phases where I write furiously every day, and others where I neglect it for a few months at a time. Then it becomes a chore to catch up, and by the time I do, things happen so quickly that I've fallen behind again... But I've never given it up, and I'm glad I haven't. There are so many precious memories in those pages.

    Tip #3 is one I've always used (sometimes I even find myself thinking about how to describe an event or conversation while the event or conversation is still taking place!) #2 is something I've never really done, though. I tend to only write about the events of the day rather than random things like quotes and such... But I like the idea of doing that. I should branch out some more as soon as I complete my current catch-up phase. Now I feel inspired:).

    - Ellen

    1. "Sometimes I even find myself thinking about how to describe an event or conversation while the event or conversation is still taking place!" I am the same exact way!! :D