Journal Writing: Keeping Life’s Journeys
There are memories that are always kept fresh by re-telling the story over and over again to the point of ad nauseam, like the time you first rode a bicycle, got lost in a mall, first day of school. But there are memories that are just too precious to forget and so important, too personal to share it to the whole world. These are events in your life that you keep to yourself but do not want to lose it to time altogether. And this is where a journal comes in handy.
It is a common notion that people who keep journals are often secretive people. Nothing can be further from the truth! In fact, I have known a lot of great figures who kept journals and yet were great extroverts. Former President John F. Kennedy kept a journal that chronicled the challenges the faced during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Anne Frank gave us a glimpse of her everyday struggle and terror during the German occupation as they lay hidden in the cellar of an old house. Even our very own ousted leader, President Ferdinand Marcos, kept a voluminous journal that took note of all his victories, but sadly, not his ruin. And he is greatly known for his eloquence of speech.
Just as journals can give us a brief picture of the greatness of a figure, so can journals hide the isolation and turmoil of a disturbed spirit. Famous Nirvana lead Kurt Cobain battled fame with bouts of depression and drugs that led to his suicide, while Mexican painter Frieda Kahlo never hid her pain with her husband’s philandering and her physical infirmity in her writings and artworks. To these select individuals, keeping a journal was leaving behind a legacy to explain to the next generation why they did what they did. It is a grim reminder of the greatness they once were.
Benefits of Journal Writing
Writing has a liberating effect. You release feelings that would have otherwise been kept locked inside you. It is an effective way of putting down your thoughts and feelings without the trepidation of rephrasing or simplifying things as you would when you would tell a friend. It’s a no-holds barred kind of thing, and when it gives you this kind of freedom then it is liberating to a certain degree. Later on, you get to read and analyze your thoughts later. So come on and start purging yourself by writing!
As detailed as you want to be. Need to describe with particularity just how your boyfriend proposed to you? Recall a memorable place or event that you’ve been to? You can do that with journal writing and no one will tell you to cut it out. By being accurate about the most minute details, you relieve these memories in your head. The lesser you will become prone to memory loss.
You preserve memories that would otherwise be lost. Good or bad, keeping a journal stores memories long after you live. This is what makes memoirs so popular to people. Writing down events and personal thoughts gives readers a profile of the person sharing it. Keeping a journal is like stitching a fabric of an event in the tapestry of your brain. It is something that you would like to admire and relish from time to time.
Deciding to Start A Journal
Once you’ve decided to start a journal, then it’s no turning back. Choose a journal that you will find interest to write on. It can be as simple as a notebook or as fancy as a Moleskin journal. It is advisable to have a notebook that is bound than have loose leaf pages—you will tend to lose the pages later on, I tell you. Choose a notebook according to your budget and personality. You do not want to lug around an Anime-designed journal and be seen writing on it.
Choose a writing instrument. Whether its a fountain pen, ball pen, or pencil, have your own pen so you can jot down any words or ideas that can be a source of inspiration. Keep it handy with your journal at all times. You’ll never know when an inspiration will just hit you.
Look for a quiet place. Your favorite spot in the world to write and recollect your thoughts on paper. How can you concentrate in a room that is full of distractions and noise? Writing a journal is like talking to yourself, therefore you need room to concentrate and recollect your thoughts.
Do not decide to complete a 10 page dissertation on your first try. Journals often start small and short. It could be an interesting anecdote or a quote that caught your attention. As you move along, you will begin to realize that these quotes become bigger and will include your own personal thoughts. It won’t be long when you begin to realize that it is something that can be done, after all.
My Journal Keeping Days
I started to write on journal when I was in high school. Back in those days, it was called a diary. “Journal” was something that the old people had. It sounded antiquated for my taste. And diaries back then were oh so cute!
I kept a diary to write down my crushes at school. My first diary was a Hello Kitty notebook that were lined and scented pages. The lines were widely spaced that were not enough for me to write on, so I would oftentimes attach a piece of stationary and then attach it to my day’s entry. The diary had become so thickened from its original width by the time I finished the last leaf. I’ve lost this diary during my college years, and still it brings me fond memories of my impressionable years.
Journal writing went into full gear during college as I studied away from home. Life was getting faster so I did not have time to write a lot anymore. That diary lasted pretty much about the same time I finished college. I had entries of my adventures at the dorm, travels, and relationships. It was fun.
My entries have become fewer as I started earning my own keep. From time to time, I would jot down funny anecdotes, problems and goals that I needed to keep for myself. Even as I now have my own family, I still find time to write an entry for my journal. The one I have right now still has a lot of pages to go, and it’s been with me for almost 4 years.
All in all, I’ve had a total of 8 journals, each recording important phases in my life.
A Resurgence in Journal Writing
Consider this paradox: despite the influx of technology in our midst, journal writing has never been so much popular now than it was before. Get inside a bookstore and you will find journals of every kind on the market. Writing instruments have become so varied that it’s hard not to pick out a favourite. Why is that? Is it because writing has become a rarity or is it because society has become more reclusive as ever? How do you explain it?
The way I see it, journal writing in this age has become an instrument to lock up pent up feelings. Whatever these feelings are, my guess is as good as yours.
Discovery and Nostalgia – The Beauty of It
As I sift through some of the pages, I find it amusing how far my entries have “matured”. From cutesy to idealistic to philosophical, it has certainly evolved. Reading some parts of it make me cringe while some others have made me thought out aloud: “Why on earth did I even think of that?”
My memory might fail me years from now, but I am comforted by the fact that these memories will be kept alive in the journals I have kept over the years.