How to write a journal (or let a journal write you)
I’m often asked about how to write a journal. There is no one answer, of course. Journaling is like thinking: No two people think exactly alike no matter how much they have in common. Still, I have these suggestions, all of which deal with process rather than content.
Remove yourself — literally. You need space in which to write, a place you can claim as your own, be it for several minutes or hours. The space doesn’t have to be a mountain cabin or room of your own. It can be, as in my case, a specific table in my favorite coffee shop, or, if no one is home, my dining room table.
Speak the truth
Your journal is yours, a sacred space in which you can express your innermost feelings. Joy, rage, doubt, longing — all have a place. So don’t edit. You do enough of that in real life.
Allow yourself to repeat, reiterate or even regurgitate. Face it: Personal issues often go unresolved, the power of some experiences never lessens (which is not to say they should rule your life). So let yourself revisit what still draws your attention.
Journaling is not compulsory. Just as it’s okay to write every day, it’s okay to write once a week, or month or year. Don’t aim for a set word count. Your goal should be to reach yourself.
Banish your audience
Many of us — especially writers (including myself) — want not just to journal but to write great prose. We reread our entries, polish our sentences, cross out whole passages, nip and tuck … as if people were going to read our journal with the same critical eye they read books (if, indeed, they were going to read our journals at all). But journals aren’t books. They are not plotted. It’s personal development, not character development, we’re after.
“10 Steps to Keeping an Ongoing Journal”