Journaling - The Write Stuff For You?

Posted by Ginger, Volunteer Mentor @gingerw, Jun 19 7:06pm

Long ago –okay, for me, it was long ago!- it was common for a young person to keep a diary, a place to write down the heartaches and giggles of growing up, the trials and tribulations of school, friendships, sports and activities. Sometimes it was a locked book, so that we felt secure knowing our secret thought remained a secret.

How times have changed! While I no longer keep a classic diary, it is no less important for me to write down thoughts, ideas, and heaven-knows-what, on a regular basis. Nowadays, the common name is a “journal”, and seems to appeal to every segment of society. There are an abundance of ways to do this, and so many reasons why. Although I prefer longhand, many people use a computer, and there are any number of prompts/styles/methods.

Let’s explore this together!

Do you journal? What prompted you to start? What would you tell someone who wants to start?

I wrote my first poem when I was 5 years old. It was a fascinating discovery to see how 26 letters could be arranged into a seemingly endless variety of words, describing my world around me and what was going on.

It wasn't until I got out of high school that I discovered my father had been keeping a journal since his junior high school years. He even made a special wooden box to hold his paper and pens. He chronicled many moves, a mother's death at his young age, and his time serving in the US Navy during WW II on the USS Enterprise. He also kept detailed daily postings of weather on the header of each page of his books, and the goings-on of his marriage and growing family. He kept track of his kids as we ventured off and started our own lives, and told of the heartbreak of my mother's dementia and her long-tenured journey of Silence. I had always hoped to receive his journals after he passed, but it was not to be.

So, I guess my journaling came generationally to me. Over the years it was natural to pick up pen and paper, recording what was going on in my heart/head/world/life. My poetry and observations on life are in a separate book, or books as it may be. My journals where my soul gets poured out, are in their own. I have written about heartache and heartbreak, job insecurity, and the everyday things that everybody goes through. I have written my way through natural disasters, cross country trips and camping, illnesses and the discovery of who I think I might be. I write in longhand mostly or print. I choose not to use a computer because then it is so easy to hit the delete key and erase what you're truly saying! Besides that, I took some handwriting courses so I can look back at old entries and see what my thoughts really were and where my head really was at. Very enlightening!

I am looking forward to hearing from others.
Ginger

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@gingerw Hi Ginger and other fellow journalers,

I am so glad to see this topic on Mayo Connect! To answer the question in the title of this discussion the answer would be a resounding Yes. Journaling has been the right/write stuff for me for a very long time. I didn't journal when I was a child but as an adult, journaling has been a good friend to me.

You see, I grew up in a home where feelings had to be monitored and not expressed unless they were "acceptable." That meant that feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment were shut down. Therefore, as an adult, the journal was my place to let it all out. All of the feelings can now be put on paper and "gotten out," whether they were considered acceptable or not. What a relief!

My journaling has taken me through some tough times. Especially through losses such as jobs, marriage, death of loved ones and transitions of all sorts.

Journaling has also been a spiritual growth venue for me. Sometimes when I feel I can't pray, I can write prayers, write reflections on my faith, even when I can't get the words out in audible prayer.

I am so looking forward to hearing what others will write about journaling. Fellow Connect members: How have you used a journal?

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I have written pages (one, two, or three at a time) in a notebook. The problem with me (one of them) is I didn't always use the same notebook. So, I have pages and pages in little notebooks, big notebooks, legal paper, any kind of paper I could get my hands on at the time. When I say pages and pages, I mean two or three, here and there. I am not consistent with anything. I flutter like a butterfly at times. I used to keep a small diary in school. I wish I had it but my husband at the time threw fits over things I wrote about–he had a horrible temper–things which meant nothing and had nothing to do with him. I got rid of it myself. My mother had gotten it for me. It was a treasure and a keepsake. (gone in first year of marriage). If I had it to do over, I should have kept my diary and got rid of him in the first year. Oh dear, here I go again. Just wanted to say it is so easy to start writing how you feel. I just wanted to say you are the first person who said (that I can remember) sometimes I write prayers because there are times you can't pray. Well, I do the same! I wondered if anyone else does/did. I haven't taken any courses, you can tell, all my writing is one paragraph! I go from one thought to another–as if it were all the same. God bless you all and have a good day.

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@woogie

I have written pages (one, two, or three at a time) in a notebook. The problem with me (one of them) is I didn't always use the same notebook. So, I have pages and pages in little notebooks, big notebooks, legal paper, any kind of paper I could get my hands on at the time. When I say pages and pages, I mean two or three, here and there. I am not consistent with anything. I flutter like a butterfly at times. I used to keep a small diary in school. I wish I had it but my husband at the time threw fits over things I wrote about–he had a horrible temper–things which meant nothing and had nothing to do with him. I got rid of it myself. My mother had gotten it for me. It was a treasure and a keepsake. (gone in first year of marriage). If I had it to do over, I should have kept my diary and got rid of him in the first year. Oh dear, here I go again. Just wanted to say it is so easy to start writing how you feel. I just wanted to say you are the first person who said (that I can remember) sometimes I write prayers because there are times you can't pray. Well, I do the same! I wondered if anyone else does/did. I haven't taken any courses, you can tell, all my writing is one paragraph! I go from one thought to another–as if it were all the same. God bless you all and have a good day.

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@boogie Don't be hard on yourself! There is no right or wrong way to do a journal. Just write! It does not matter the type of paper, the size of the paper, or what you use to write. You can draw in it, you can press leaves into it, or flower petals or who knows what. Or not. That's the beauty of journaling. There are no Journal Police, and no one should tell you that you're doing it wrong. Including yourself. And there's nothing saying that you can't change things up at any time.

I smile when I read about your papers and notebooks all over the place. Two years ago when I was moving, I was trying to be very meticulous about packing. Oh my goodness! you would not believe how many places I found scraps of paper with a poem or an essay or some writings. I tried to corral everything into a central location and just put the word "writings" on beholder. However, I have recently come across other things. It's a never-ending battle for me but it's okay. I look back at the writing and of course I always date things. If I do multiple pages I make sure that I copy the date to the new page and what page number it is.

Sometimes the biggest block is to just get started. I think that my dad had a great idea and this is one I follow a lot, and that is to have a few opening sentences about where I am or the weather or something that helps clear my mind.

Who does a "daily check in" via writing?
Ginger

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I use journaling as a way of getting thoughts out of my head. I'm from the generation of letter writing but seems that art is no longer. Now I wish that I had pen pal. I do try and write every day sometimes a list of what I was able to accomplish even with this darn depression and if I can't write that day I just put down " no writing today". Have been doing this for about 10 years but can't muster the courage to go back and read them. Oh well…

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@gingerw– I really gave it a try growing up but always felt that what I had to say was either stupid or not important. But after I had an unfortunate run of cancers I decided that I had to write down my journey, not only for my own sake but so that I could reach out to others. So what did I do? Journal in a notebook or a pretty book? Oh, no! Not me. I went for the big guns and with my son's help started a blog about Lung Cancer. It helped me so much to try and get through a very, very bad spell with PTSD. It led me to Mayo Connect and then to be a mentor. Writing to me, journaling is writing down your journey. Our journeys aren't smooth and hunky-dory so we shouldn't expect our writing to be. And as @boogie related hers were in all sorts of different places. The drafts for my writing are all over the place, on different types of paper with all sorts of corrections on them.

Since my blog has stayed dormant for a few months I believe that it's time to wake it up. I'm like you, I love to write with pen and paper, and I like to hold a book in my hands. There's something that texture does for my mind, it warms my heart and soothes my mind. Writing my journey has helped me discover things about myself and about my cancer that I actually surprised with. By actually writing it down it makes it more personal. There is no keyboard from me to stretch my arms to type- no gap. It's personal.

I have to have my son change the photo but here's my blog if you wish to read it. I hope that you like it.
https://my20yearscancer.com/

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@marjou

I use journaling as a way of getting thoughts out of my head. I'm from the generation of letter writing but seems that art is no longer. Now I wish that I had pen pal. I do try and write every day sometimes a list of what I was able to accomplish even with this darn depression and if I can't write that day I just put down " no writing today". Have been doing this for about 10 years but can't muster the courage to go back and read them. Oh well…

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@marjou– You can use COnnect as your pen pal!

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In a therapy session years ago journaling was suggested as a way to get those constant thoughts out of my head and on paper. It's been 10 years now and still try to put something down every day. I used to think I had to write something important but read somewhere that journaling can be anything like doodles, sketches, single words, poetry, sentences, lists, photos, etc. and days where I just can't come up with something to write I put down these words "no writing today" and that's okay. However, I will admit that I haven't had the courage to go back and read those journals.

I am from the generation that loved writing letters and mailing them which I think is a lost art in this age of technology, sound bites, and all sorts of abbreviations with letters in text format. Now I wish I had a pen pal to keep in touch with others and still write.

So I say write what you feel and in the format you want for each day is different. They is no right or wrong way. There is only YOUR way and enjoy your journey.👏😃

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@merpreb

@marjou– You can use COnnect as your pen pal!

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@merpreb Thanks for your encouragement💮

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@woogie

I have written pages (one, two, or three at a time) in a notebook. The problem with me (one of them) is I didn't always use the same notebook. So, I have pages and pages in little notebooks, big notebooks, legal paper, any kind of paper I could get my hands on at the time. When I say pages and pages, I mean two or three, here and there. I am not consistent with anything. I flutter like a butterfly at times. I used to keep a small diary in school. I wish I had it but my husband at the time threw fits over things I wrote about–he had a horrible temper–things which meant nothing and had nothing to do with him. I got rid of it myself. My mother had gotten it for me. It was a treasure and a keepsake. (gone in first year of marriage). If I had it to do over, I should have kept my diary and got rid of him in the first year. Oh dear, here I go again. Just wanted to say it is so easy to start writing how you feel. I just wanted to say you are the first person who said (that I can remember) sometimes I write prayers because there are times you can't pray. Well, I do the same! I wondered if anyone else does/did. I haven't taken any courses, you can tell, all my writing is one paragraph! I go from one thought to another–as if it were all the same. God bless you all and have a good day.

Jump to this post

I just wanted to let you know you are not alone! I saw myself in so much of what you wrote, marriage and all. Thanks for sharing, sometimes it is difficult to be open but you hit the nail on the head with me. To bad we can't sit down and share!

.

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@marjou

In a therapy session years ago journaling was suggested as a way to get those constant thoughts out of my head and on paper. It's been 10 years now and still try to put something down every day. I used to think I had to write something important but read somewhere that journaling can be anything like doodles, sketches, single words, poetry, sentences, lists, photos, etc. and days where I just can't come up with something to write I put down these words "no writing today" and that's okay. However, I will admit that I haven't had the courage to go back and read those journals.

I am from the generation that loved writing letters and mailing them which I think is a lost art in this age of technology, sound bites, and all sorts of abbreviations with letters in text format. Now I wish I had a pen pal to keep in touch with others and still write.

So I say write what you feel and in the format you want for each day is different. They is no right or wrong way. There is only YOUR way and enjoy your journey.👏😃

Jump to this post

I tried downloading a photo of a lettuce poppy in my garden, always nice to receive flowers! I am 66 and after visiting Mayo when I was 64 went through a huge life change with a proper diagnosis. Mayo is wonderful! I love to journal and have journals destroyed by a jealous husband. Now I write when I want and really would like to develop the discipline to keep a daily journal again. At this stage of my life, I am enjoying keeping an "illustrated" journal! I draw, paint or scribble whatever I want to and it makes me happy. I believe it is the effort that is what counts, not the results. I wish you the best with your journaling. I recently began doing a daily three things I'm thankful for in writing every night before I go to bed. It gives me a sense of peace and I'm happy when my head hits the pillow. (After I get my CPAP on)!

IMG_9884

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@gingerw

@boogie Don't be hard on yourself! There is no right or wrong way to do a journal. Just write! It does not matter the type of paper, the size of the paper, or what you use to write. You can draw in it, you can press leaves into it, or flower petals or who knows what. Or not. That's the beauty of journaling. There are no Journal Police, and no one should tell you that you're doing it wrong. Including yourself. And there's nothing saying that you can't change things up at any time.

I smile when I read about your papers and notebooks all over the place. Two years ago when I was moving, I was trying to be very meticulous about packing. Oh my goodness! you would not believe how many places I found scraps of paper with a poem or an essay or some writings. I tried to corral everything into a central location and just put the word "writings" on beholder. However, I have recently come across other things. It's a never-ending battle for me but it's okay. I look back at the writing and of course I always date things. If I do multiple pages I make sure that I copy the date to the new page and what page number it is.

Sometimes the biggest block is to just get started. I think that my dad had a great idea and this is one I follow a lot, and that is to have a few opening sentences about where I am or the weather or something that helps clear my mind.

Who does a "daily check in" via writing?
Ginger

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@woogie I had to laugh when you said you had papers all over the place . I'm the same way I have notebooks with my writings in them someday I'm going to get them all out and put them in one . Dating all of them . My Mom did this also . When she died I found quite a few of her writings and what she put down relates to me now . When young I thought she was just saying these things but as I got older I realize she is right . I'll bet a lot of us can relate

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I have been a journal writer all my life. I guess I didn’t realize how good it is for your mental health. I just knew that is how I always begin my day. Only as I have gotten older have I kept my notes. I so wish I had all the notebooks over the years that I have tossed. It would have been a great story of my and my family’s life down through years.

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@ret18

I have been a journal writer all my life. I guess I didn’t realize how good it is for your mental health. I just knew that is how I always begin my day. Only as I have gotten older have I kept my notes. I so wish I had all the notebooks over the years that I have tossed. It would have been a great story of my and my family’s life down through years.

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A verbal diary of those memories could be a way of passing it on to family.

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@paulalina

I tried downloading a photo of a lettuce poppy in my garden, always nice to receive flowers! I am 66 and after visiting Mayo when I was 64 went through a huge life change with a proper diagnosis. Mayo is wonderful! I love to journal and have journals destroyed by a jealous husband. Now I write when I want and really would like to develop the discipline to keep a daily journal again. At this stage of my life, I am enjoying keeping an "illustrated" journal! I draw, paint or scribble whatever I want to and it makes me happy. I believe it is the effort that is what counts, not the results. I wish you the best with your journaling. I recently began doing a daily three things I'm thankful for in writing every night before I go to bed. It gives me a sense of peace and I'm happy when my head hits the pillow. (After I get my CPAP on)!

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@paulalina A beautiful flower to brighten this morning!
A journal can be anything you want it to be, that's the beauty of it. Some people want to destroy their work once a year, as a cathartic ritual. Some have their work destroyed without their okay. An abusive or angry relative might hold written word as a prize to be withheld. Or a journal is lost in a move, or in a fire. I remember accidentally leaving my then-current journal behind, and was actually panicked and hyperventilating if it was to be found, for what it contained. When it was found, I have no idea who may have read it, and was inconsolable for several days, then yep, wrote about that in my journal.

@ret18 Thank you for popping in to let us know how it works for you! I wonder if you would be open to starting to write down your family stories again, and collecting them for your heirs and others to read? It might be a very interesting journey and I bet, more pages in your daily journal!

@lioness I am with you. Hmm, guess I will try to relocate everything again and place in one spot. My dad sealed most everything up in a box as he moved to his last apartment. I asked for his writings, and promised to keep the box sealed until after he passed. All I wanted was his writings and his old Remington typewriter, but did not receive them. He gifted me with a folding machete-type knife and the camp shovel we always carried in the car.

A way to use journaling is following a health condition. As someone with chronic health issues, I sometimes write a letter to my condition [pick one, any one!] and give it what-for, or report symptoms/changes. This has served me well when discussing with doctors what is going on. When doing this, my writing is very clinical, more of a report, just facts. Perhaps a section in the back of a journal for that type of entry? Color the edge of a page with a marker so you can find it easily when needed? Let me know what you do, please?
Ginger

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