Six weeks ago, I set out to improve my writing, my mindfulness, and my attitude by writing in a journal every day. In that time, I’ve had a bunch of stuff come up in my life: finals, summer break, travel, meeting up with old friends. It’s been great to look back on the journal entries that I’ve written over that time, and as I wrap up this challenge, I want to chat with you about some of the things I’ve learned.
I started off this challenge with maybe the simplest kind of journaling, just short bullet-point style entries of what I got up to during the day. I wrote 100, maybe 200 words, and an entry only took me a minute or two to shoot out. I liked this kind of writing quite a lot, because it got down very efficiently my day-to-day doings. And for me at least, that’s the most important thing from a journal.
It’s all about remembering later what I’ve been getting up to.
There are lots of people who want to use a journal or diary as a way to get out their feelings and work out problems they’re dealing with; for me it’s a lot simpler. I prefer to tease out my problems aloud, talking to a couple of trusted friends. So for me, my journal is all about remembering later what I’ve been getting up to.
During my time writing these journal entries, I found that a couple of things really helped me with being able to later trigger memories of my day. When I included pictures from the day in the journal, it helped me remember way more about the day after a couple of weeks than when I looked at entries from picture-less days. It didn’t matter what the pictures were of–even shots of my lunch or random selfies were enough for me to think, “Oh yeah, that’s the day where I went to the coffee shop all afternoon and tried that new drink!”
After the simple style of journaling, I spent the rest of the challenge writing journal entries from prompts. That was a great experience too, even though I preferred simply recording my day. Some of the questions started out pretty surface-level, things like “What are your favorite and least favorite foods?” But they frequently got me spinning out on all sorts of weird tangents. I’d start out writing about yellow curry (yum!) and bell peppers (yuck!) and end up writing about some of the most memorable dinners of my life, the conversations that I had there, and the people who I spent time with.
A journal always listens, keeps your secrets, and won’t judge you.
I would be exaggerating if I said that in the past six weeks of journaling I learned deep new truths about who I am. But I can definitely see the potential in journaling for that kind of revelation. I’m glad that I undertook this challenge and made journaling a true part of my daily routine, and I encourage all of you girls to do the same. I know that in the future, if I’m going through a tough time, I’ll be able to get my thoughts out on paper. A journal always listens, it keeps your secrets, and it won’t judge you no matter what you say. That’s a powerful tool, and one from which everyone can benefit. I hope you have all enjoyed joining me on this adventure, and that you’ll all go out and keep on writing.