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Journaling

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Almost six years ago, I purchased a large journal—about 1-inch thick with 8½x11-inch, lined pages—and I started journaling. Then, three years later, I stopped. I had never been consistent about writing in it every day, nor about what or how I would write. Sometimes it would be a prayer—my heart crying out to God in a moment of deep loneliness or despair. Sometimes, it was a collection of random thoughts or observations I’d made that day or week. There are pages of brainstorming of characters or storylines along with “letters” to my future husband. Several entries, like September 11, 2001, were written purposely to record my thoughts and feelings that I would want to remember later. But, for some reason, I just gradually stopped writing it.

At the beginning of this year, I started writing this blog. While I have blogged about some personal things—my search for a church home, my last week of grad school—I’ve tried to keep this blog writing related . . . I really do not feel the need to share my inmost thoughts with the world.

As a single person who lives alone and doesn’t have a lot of really close friends with whom I talk at length or in depth, I have found myself at times longing for someone to talk to about my frustrations after a tough day; my hopes and dreams for my life; my struggles with loneliness and aloneness; my tendency toward depression and negative feelings; my excitement over successes in my writing.

This past weekend, I was rummaging in the cabinet beside my bed looking for something when I ran across this journal. Over the next couple of hours, I traveled back through those three years of my life—my growing discontentment with my job at the newspaper, my pain and decision to have back surgery, my anxiety over figuring out what I was going to do about graduate school (would I have to move? would I be able to find a program which would allow me to write the stories of my heart rather than the superficial nonsense called “literary”?). I actually got a few ideas for a character I’m developing by reading some of my more random thoughts and observations!

And it hit me.

As most of my entries included—even at a subconscious level—a prayer, this had been my outlet for having Someone to share my life with. So I’ve made a commitment to myself to start journaling about things that I need to express to Someone—and things I can’t post here like religion and politics so I don’t scandalize my loyal readers☺—or brainstorming story ideas, odd or unusual things I observe around me, my struggles, my hopes and dreams.

Do you journal? Why? Do you ever go back and re-read them years later? Or once you write it, do you put it out of your mind? And do you ever allow yourself to wonder if, in 200 years, people will be studying your journal in high school or college courses the way we now read the letters and diaries of people like politicians, authors, or historic figures?

3 Comments
  1. Carol Collett permalink
    Friday, November 10, 2006 12:43 pm

    I do journal, although inconsistently. I tend to journal in spurts. I think I use it to try to figure myself out. (You’d think by age 42 that would be done, but nope.) I use it to pray-I say things to God in my journal I can’t say outloud. Sometimes I record snippets of character or dialogue. Sometimes I just describe the birds at the backyard feeder.

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  2. Anonymous permalink
    Friday, November 10, 2006 10:08 pm

    I always wanted to journal, but was never successful in keeping up with it. I do, however, love to buy journals. I keep a notebook handy, though, and mostly freewrite to work out problems with my story and whatnot. I should keep something personal. It’s great that you’re able to look back and see God right there with you!

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  3. Anonymous permalink
    Sunday, November 12, 2006 8:20 pm

    I’ve never been one to journal. I admire people who do, but I can never seem to be consistent about it. I start it, then stop, then pick it up and wonder why I’ve failed to keep up with it. Putting pencil to paper has never been cathartic to me. Maybe I should try journaling on the laptop. My thoughts flow faster than I can write down, and I get frustrated. Typing might be easier.

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