I’ve kept a diary/journal for over 30 years. I’ve written in three-ring notebooks, spiral notebooks, special journals, locked diaries, you name it I’ve written in it. It’s a habit that’s very hard to break, but why would I want to break it? It’s been a source of comfort and release for as long as I can remember. I never remembered a time when I made a conscious decision to write everything down. I just started doing it. I think I was 12 or 13 when I wrote in my first official diary. It was small and had a yellow hard back cover with a gold lock and key. I loved it! I put thoughts about crushes on boys and the shitty life I had at home. Perhaps I’m somewhat sane because of my journal keeping. But is it a journal or a diary?
Those who study diaries and journals explain the difference as, “A diary is a personal daily record containing experiences, events, observations and/or reflections. A person who does this kind of writing is often called a diarist. A journal is also a personal record kept on a regular basis. Although diaries and journals are periodic records, many people don’t make daily entries.” So a diary is a daily record and a journal isn’t? I think that’s what they’re saying. Anyway, there’s nothing nicer than cracking open the pages of a fresh new journal or closing the back cover of a book full of your own handwriting. Everyone should journal and thanks to the internet and blogging, many people are leaving records of their thoughts for future generations. Although you often wonder whether someday there might be a sudden apocalypse and all the electronic blogging will be lost and then where would we be?
In many ways I prefer paper and pen when putting thoughts down for posterity. And I’m not even doing it consciously for posterity. I write because my brain is so full at the end of the day or beginning of the next one that I have to spill it out on paper or I can’t sleep at night. Journaling comes in handy right before bedtime when your thoughts are swirling with images and ideas about the events of the day or even about fights you’d had and words you wished you had said or wanted to take back. Somehow getting it out on paper is like a high colonic for the brain. 🙂
I recommend diary or journal keeping not only to have a record of your life for your children, but to promote personal happiness and well-being. Andy over at The Domain for Truth gives more excellent spiritual reasons for blogging or journaling on the Web. I know that journaling has kept me sane all these years and that all those diaries kept in a box on my shelf will someday explain my psychology to someone else after I die. All these blogs will give someone a glimpse into what made me tick. It’ll probably be the only valuable thing I’ll have to leave for my family. Next to Catholic penance and confession, writing your thoughts down daily is the best psychological tool you can use on yourelf.