The best reasons why we journal, and how it influences our lives, along with what types of journals benefit you.
Unfortunately, when a lot of us think of journaling, we create this mental picture of a little girl with a pink girly journal and pens with bright pink and purple fluff at the end writing about their third grade crushes. While encouraging journaling at a young age is absolutely wonderful, oftentimes a lot of us don’t seem to realize that there are more beneficial types of adult journaling out there.
Personally, I have seven journals. Yes, I know, I have a bit of an obsession. But let me tell you––those beautiful leather, Italian journals at Barnes and Noble are just simply too tempting to let sit on the shelf. It’s almost sad to say that nowadays I am more drawn to the journal section of book stores than the books. Which leads me to another question: Why don’t book stores carry pretty hardbacks of classic novels? Yes, they have some cheesy modern looking ones, but I want the real deal hard bound, ornate version of Les Miserables. Come on, if I’m going to spend thirty-five dollars on the book anyway, why not just go all the way and make it look fantastic? Some of us out there still like to collect beautiful hardbacks, you know.
Moving back to journals, here are my personal uses for all seven of mine, and though I am sure there are plenty more, I have found these to be extremely useful and inspiring.
1. Quote book. Anyone who reads needs a quote book. Period. At first, I just really wanted a spot to collect of the cool quotes I came across, but once I really started filling it up with inspiring messages, I would look back through them. I can hardly express to you how uplifting it is to read a book in your own handwriting that is practically dedicated to inspiration.
2. Writing journal. Are you an aspiring writer? Good. Get one of these. Get one of those really soft leather journals that open easily and are just wonderful to write in. Let me make a difference to you, you do not write a novel in this. You write plots in this––assuming you’re not one of those authors who likes to just go with the flow; if you do not plot, then this journal is not for you. But if you do plot, oh this is glorious! I have probably about twenty pages of continuing flow-charts and plot diagrams. What’s great is that you can plot without setting in stone. You can go on tangents about characters or ideas for ten pages and it will overall help you gain a better understanding of your novel. I even have whole pages dedicated to emotion words, metaphors, similes, etc. It’s actually quite fun.
3. Philosophy journal. I know I am no legitimate philosopher, but sometimes I like to pretend that I am. For my AP English 12 course in high school we were required to get a journal and journal fifty times in the summer prior to the class. I got a really soft leather one with parchment paper, and only broke out the antique 1950’s Parker fountain pen for this journal. I wrote about life and my experiences. I used quotes and Proverbs. I discussed every philosophical and abstract thing I could think of. You know those times where you come up with those interesting sayings but you feel too narcissistic to write them down in your actual quote book? This is the place for those philosophical thoughts. A philosophy journal is like the breeding ground for great ideas and inspirations. And, oddly enough, these journals teach you a lot about yourself.
4. Regular journal. This one is probably one of those “needless to say” journals. It is your stereotypical journal. You write about your life, and it is as simple as that. A regular journal documents your life, play by play.
5. Five year journal. That same AP English 12 teacher that inspired my philosophy journal is the same one who inspired me to attempt to keep up a five year journal. The point to this is to have a page for every day of the year with enough room for five year’s entries. Only allow yourself a couple of lines per day, enough for you to say “I had a doctor’s visit with my gastroenterologist, then went home and read Les Miserables. Weather was nice. Had my favorite meal for dinner.” You just want to write the simple synopsis of your day, nothing special or detailed. This is particularly fun because you can see and compare exactly what you were doing on that particular day in a certain year and see how your life has changed. My English teacher said that his great-grandfather (or a relative of the sort) kept one––multiple actually––and he and his siblings would enjoy looking at them to see what their great grandfather was doing on that same day in 1930. Now, keep in mind that this is for no light journal-er. This one requires every day attention, and I must admit that even I (a consistent writer) have to go back, even as far as a week, and fill in days on this one. Even if it is a struggle, it is absolutely worth it. When you feel like giving up, just think about your future great great grandchild reading this and being fascinated.
6. Devotional/Sermon book. Because I attended a Christian school, we had to take sermon notes at church every weekend and turn them in for a grade every Monday. Once I hit Junior year, I kind of got tired of writing all of this great stuff down that I learned in church and then having to turn them in and never get them back the next day. Hence, my sermon book was born. It is a wonderful place to document all of your favorite verses and Christian thoughts, and to take notes from church in. Even just having a book dedicated to devotions compels you to write in it. What a great way to keep track of your faith!
7. Book Log. For those avid readers out there, this is a fantastic way to log what you read and keep track of all the books. Write when you start the book, and then fill in the date you finish it, so you know how long it took you. Then journal about it; what you liked, what you didn’t like, a few quotes that just simply changed your life, that sort of thing.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to pick up that journal and write, no matter what kind of journal it is and no matter what you write about! I have truly found that journaling is a true inspiration to my own encouragement and it keeps me going––testing my mind. Hopefully you find great merit in it, too! What other types of journals do you keep up and how do they benefit you?