A life of courage, joy and independence.
Should I keep a journal?
I was recently asked my opinion about the value and process of maintaining a journal, or record of one’s thoughts and important life events. I have some experience in this area having kept journals throughout the decade of my twenties and into my mid-thirties. I still have these books today, though frankly I’m a bit embarrassed to look through them for the sometimes juvenile and innocent mind they reveal in the young man I once was. Nevertheless, these time-worm volumes also provide a record of my personal change and development and, more importantly, helped to facilitate such change through the active effort of writing. I’d encourage anyone who is interested in the development and furthering of a personal philosophy to keep an active journal from an early age. I’d also recommend the same to anyone who is interested in writing or improving their basic capacity of self expression. Though spontaneous writing is nice for the purpose of capturing the fleeting voice of a muse, on the other hand a carefully written journal will help to develop the currently under-appreciated skill of spelling, as well as the far more important mastery of a robust and versatile vocabulary. I can’t honestly think of any negative side to journaling besides the time that it can take away from other life pursuits, though this in itself seems a good thing too.
As for a preferred medium of expression there are today several choices: including blank books, voice recorders, computer word processors and the more recent advent of blogging or recording one’s thoughts on video for storage on a computer or publication on the Internet. I have always enjoyed writing into a physical journal, and my preference is for a good quality book of unlined, blank white pages. Using a good pen is also nice. My journaling nearly always includes drawing and I’ve found a simple black pen and crayons to be my favorite drawing tools. Drawing in conjunction with journaling is a very effective way to capture ideas and is also a heck of a lot of fun. Here are a few journaling tools I can recommend from my own experience:
Recommended writing tools
When I was actively journaling I kept a journaling satchel filled with the above-mentioned tools (however, in those days there were no erasable pens so I used a high-quality, ball-point pen with fast-drying ink that wouldn’t smear if you accidentally ran your palm over it). Don’t cut corners to save money on your journaling supplies unless you don’t intend to see your ideas last any longer than you do.
Alternative forms of journaling
In addition to traditional journaling you also have the option of making video journals. One idea would be to set up a special YouTube channel for the purpose of your video journal entries. You could make daily, weekly or just periodic entries as your mood and inspiration dictate. YouTube gives you the option of keeping videos private though I would strongly recommend maintaining a public journal which has the very helpful effect of allowing others to critique, criticize and compliment your work. Trust me, it’s the criticism you want most as this will help you to develop a thick skin to controversy as well as foster the skills of the debater if you choose to argue your point (which you should). Keeping to a regular schedule to your journaling works very well for some people and has the additional benefit of developing or furthering the will power necessary to follow-through with any writing project.
The curious can click HERE to see a sample of my journaling from 1989.