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wingsonroots's avatar

What's the purpose of writing a journal?

Asked by wingsonroots (225points) May 12th, 2014

Do you keep a journal? What do you write about? Do you follow a discipline – when to write, mood, etc.? Do you ever go back and read older entries? How does keeping a daily journal help you?

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12 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

The purpose is to help you remember things you did in the past.
I do not write a journal, and I have already forgotten what I did last week.

hug_of_war's avatar

I do. It helps me put things in perspective. All the thoughts jumbled in my mind can take my mind off the priorities. I write about what happens to me, and how I feel about those things.

I would ideally write once a week, but I often forget. My last entry was over a month ago. I’ll be honest, it’s mostly about how much everything in my life is getting me down, because those are the things I need to process, not because there aren’t good things in my life.

I almost nnever read past entries, as like I said, it’s more for me to process my world than as a recorder of my life.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I’ve kept journals since I hitch-hiked from Florida to California in 1970. I started it because I know I was about to embark on an adventure and I wanted a record of it for when I was old. (This represented incredible foresight on my part at the time.) I’d not anticipated the many benefits of honestly writing down one’s thoughts, so I continued the journal during my time in California and have kept one, spottily, ever since.

The immediate reward is introspection. Your journal is an honest look at the past day, week, or month. It’s a conversation with yourself, a documented one, for better or for worse. It’s also a measurement device. Over the years you see how you’ve changed, how differently you’ve come to feel about things. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to look back on the twenty-something you thirty years later. Personally, if I met the guy I was back in say, 1977, I’d want to kick that fool’s ass. What a smart ass I was sometimes. But that’s evolution, the evolution of a life.

And it serves as a record. When things happened, how they happened, and how you interpreted the events as they evolved in real time. You can refer back to it, but I wouldn’t recommend reading it often. One must change and adapt in life, one matures, learns from mistakes, and often this is a result of the mellowing of memories and regularly reading a journal prevents that mellowing by keeping the instant fresh and often emotionally heated. So,I only re-read some things now and then—most recently of the year I lost two of my brothers, 1973, and the notes from a 1987 summer bike ride from Malmo, Sweden to the small village of Scilla, Italy. I sometimes add dated margin notes of my current understanding—the sight of an older man looking upon his younger self.

But the greatest reward of keeping a journal is that it forces one to be introspective, forces them to analyze their day, their feelings about their day honestly and the fact that it is in the form of the printed word makes it more real, more than just a passing thought. You can lose all your journals and you will still have the life you led and the way you led it because you took the time to look at that life as you lived it. I belief my life would have been different if I’d not kept these journals.

Pachy's avatar

Amid the cacophony of daily life, it’s a way of staying in touch with one’s inner self. I don’t keep one but I deeply admire friends who do.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I’ve never understood it. I kept one for a month back when I was in my 20s – I read it a couple of years ago. Narcissistic and silly. As the month progressed, I wrote less and less, because it was a chore and not an enjoyment. Frankly, it was a waste of time.

So I don’t see the value.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I’m pretty much the same as @elbanditoroso. Somehow I find the idea of writing my daily activities and events in a book weird. It always makes me blush even without anyone around.

I prefer keeping everything in my memories. Easier to access and without fear of being exposed.

cookieman's avatar

I’m actually a fan of impermanence and the way our minds alter memories over time — so no, I do not keep a journal.

Cruiser's avatar

I have a blog that I journaled in that was instrumental in me overcoming a serious drinking problem. It was on a recovery website that others there could reply to. I like to go back and re-read my thoughts to revisit a terrible time of my life I never want to go back to.

flutherother's avatar

I keep a daily diary and have done for many years. I write at the end of the day as a way of giving perspective to events and feelings. It is a kind of obsession with me. I will write my diary wherever I am and I consider it something important that I must do. I like to keep a record of what I have done and I hate to miss a day and in fact I haven’t for many years now.

I sometimes feel a little guilty when I write about others without their knowledge or consent but my diary is private and only I read it though I find I seldom do.

Before 2000 my diary was written with a fountain pen since then it is on my computer which has the advantage of being searchable which is occasionally very useful.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I have 25 years of daily diaries that one day I will transfer into book form.
It chroniciles my life in a small town and daily occurrances, some funny, some sad, some prolific,some profound , but all helpfull to readers.
I found that journalling helped me to reread and it offerred a “mirror” to my life in that I could re read the entries and look at it objectively as if reading anothers life story.
It did offer new perspectives and assisted greatly in understanding patterns in my life and obstacles that kept reoccurring ( of which at that time I was unaware).
Soon I was able to change my path in life and how I interacted.
Things become clear and concise and I have learned “not to” get involved with some peoples problems as I was then ‘quick’ to assist others much to their joy?
People have to learn to handle their own problems that usually are brought on by their own mistakes. ( of course when they got in over their heads on a problem it was then and only then that I offerred assistance).

weeveeship's avatar

One purpose is therapeutic – to be able to write down your thoughts and feelings on a particular situation instead of shouting at the other person or sending them nasty texts.

I don’t write a journal.

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