My Journey as a Writer – blog (part 5)

My Journey as a Writer documents my journey as I rediscover my love of writing, and push forward into a new career path. Watch for new posts on Mondays and Thursdays.

Part 5 includes – 

All about journals

  • Getting started with a journal
  • Why do I journal?
  • Handwriting versus typing
  • Can I get some privacy?

Getting started with a journal

Why would anyone keep a journal? That’s a good question. A better question is, why wouldn’t anyone keep a journal?

A journal is a place to record your thoughts and feelings. There’s not a right or wrong way to do it – it’s your journal. Do what works for you.

You may remember from part 4 that the blank page can be intimidating. Let me help you get started.

Start by describing your day. Then go beyond the different tasks and activities into more important matters.

  • What didn’t you accomplish today?
  • How did you feel about today?
  • What has your attention?
  • What is something that is starting to build up in your life?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • Where do you want to be in the next month, six months, or year?

Thinking about the present and future are great topics for a journal.

But, retrospection – thinking about the past – is also a very worthwhile exercise. Understanding your past, and being able to accept it, can lead you on a path of self-discovery. Don’t live in the past – reflect on it and learn from it.

Along the lines of retrospection, consider interviewing yourself. Play the parts of both interviewer and interviewee. If you could ask yourself any question, where would you take the conversation?

Still can’t get started on a journal? Check out Jumpstart Your Journaling: A 31-Day Challenge. This article from The Art of Manliness has 31 thought-provoking journal entries. The article appears on a men’s website, but most of these can be for anyone. I tried these, and my journal entries took off.

Why do I journal?

My journal is very therapeutic for me. It helps get thoughts and ideas out of my head. It helps me figure out what direction to go. My journal entries help tell my story. Keeping a journal is now a vital part of my writing – and my life. I hate to miss a day of journaling. Once you get in the habit of doing it, it has such a positive impact.

I have journaled nearly 50,000 words since September 2018. Considering that I’ve never kept a journal before this, I’d say that’s an accomplishment.

Quick journal entries can put things into (or back into) perspective. It can help plan my day and figure out my priorities. 

Longer journal entries often get more profound and have some real insight.

Through my journal, I discovered patterns in my life. I could see the dissatisfaction in my career. I also determined that I wanted to be a writer. 

Handwriting versus typing

I like handwritten journal entries but soon ran into a problem. I had a little wooden box in my dresser filled with journal entries that I tore out of random notebooks and notepads. What am I going to do with all of these? I couldn’t throw them away. They were too valuable. So, I decided to type them and keep them for future reference.

Writing the journal entries was rewarding. Typing the journal entries was a pain in the ass. Then, I discovered Google Voice Typing. Whether I write the journal entries first by hand and then dictate them, or just “talk” to my journal, it can be a huge timesaver. It’s not perfect, but it has saved me hours of typing. 

I still write some of my journal entries by hand and put them in my wooden box. I knock out a few here and there to help keep it from getting overwhelming.

If you start journaling and find that you enjoy it, you may want to consider what you’re going to do with it in the future. It’s easier to adjust your process when you first get started instead of later on. I now put my writings into Google Docs. I love being able to see the word count and keep track of everything in one place with Google Drive. 

Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Keyboard, and Google Voice Typing have changed the way I journal and write. If you haven’t tried these tools, do it! These are probably some of the most essential tools in my toolbox. 

Can I get some privacy?

There’s a chance that someone could accidentally (or purposely) read your journal. If you put very personal and intimate thoughts in your journal, then be mindful of that. I don’t know if there is a way to keep it completely private and prevent anyone from ever reading it.

If you’re worried about privacy, perhaps follow this advice: If you wouldn’t say it to your mother, priest, or consigliere – don’t write it in your journal.

Of course, journals don’t have to be permanent. Sometimes writing it down and getting it out of your head is enough. If it’s too private – and you don’t want a permanent copy floating around – write it down, shred the paper, and burn the evidence!

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