On Keeping a Journal

I was formally introduced to the idea of keeping a journal when I was a struggling thirteen-year-old. Since then, I have started and failed to complete many a journal…

Some of my failed attempts....
Some of my failed attempts….

Until last year.

Back in 2012, my mom was kind enough to pick up another journal for me.

She knew I liked to write and she knew I liked pigs, so why not combine the two?

Over the next two years, I would write entry after entry, sometimes using the journal as a notebook when I was too forgetful to bring one to a meeting.

Finally, as 2014 began wrapping up, I finished the journal.

My piggy journal.
My piggy journal.

What changed? Why had I suddenly been able to keep a journal successfully when all other attempts had failed?

I had let go.

In all of my previous journal-writing attempts, I had tried to make writing a daily practice, but I didn’t realize that I don’t work like that.

Writing every day led me to writing about the mundane details of day-to-day life, which didn’t change much. Day-to-day details didn’t capture my interest, and it didn’t give me the emotional release I needed.

So I let go of thinking I had to write every day.

I decided to write only when I wanted to, when I had an idea, when something interesting happened, when I was struggling, or when I wanted to remember something.

And it worked.

Letting go of the idea that I had to write every day allowed me to successfully complete a journal.

Being able to express my happiest and saddest thoughts gives me the ability to process major events and emotions. It allows me to get the swirling and unorganized thoughts out of my head and on to a page in a somewhat organized manner. The process of writing forces me to think about what I’m saying, which, in turn, lets me process my thoughts further.

Finishing my journal was bittersweet, but I was so excited to have completed one.

My new journal.
My new journal.

Since then, I have started writing in this journal. It’s not as cute as my piggy journal, but I picked it out, and it definitely works for what I need.

When I first started writing in the new journal, I was going through a lot of big events: travelling, moving, and settling into my first home with my husband. So naturally, I wrote every day, sometimes multiple times a day.

It felt weird that after writing once every now and then that I was suddenly writing every day. Now that my life has settled down some, I find myself going back to writing when I need it. And hopefully, I’ll be able to finish this one too.

I might not ever have piles of completed journals lying around, but that isn’t what’s important about keeping a journal. What is important is that it satisfies what I need it for: emotional processing and event cataloging.

Once I figured out what I needed it for, completing the journal was simple… it just took longer than I expected it to.

If it weren’t for me letting go of what I thought keeping a journal should be like, I would probably have added my piggy journal to the piles of unfinished journals lying around.

Do you keep a journal? What works for you? Let me know in the comments!

1 thought on “On Keeping a Journal”

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