Why You Should Keep A Journal For The Journey

I’ve been keeping a journal in one form or another for the last 30 years. It’s made me a better writer. It’s also put me more in touch with my own feelings and goals. It’s led to writing several books and operating this blog. I encourage you to start journaling today. It will improve your writing skills and your life. Journal for the journey.

I was first a songwriter. I started writing songs as a kid and I’ve written songs ever since. In essence, songwriting was my first form of journaling. I wrote songs about my life, my feelings, my family. I was already keeping a journal for the journey.

I started journaling in the more traditional style in mid 1990s. I made journaling a daily habit. Journalling led to writing poetry, prose and eventually, blogging.

Check out my first book of poetry: Incandescent Man Walking.

What Do You Journal About?

The options are wide open. When I first started journaling, I wrote a journal of poetry. My second attempt was based on daily-devotional readings. I recorded my history as a child victim of a cult. I wrote an educational journal when I was working on my M.A. In the past several years, my journals have become a simple, or sometimes (not-so-simple), record of life, a book for the journey.

Record-of-life journaling has pros and cons. You’re recording history as it happens. This allows you to understand your family’s day-to-day joys and struggles, your children’s milestones. The tough side of keeping record is that you have to be blatantly honest with yourself. Sometimes you have to write things you’d rather not. Don’t fear. Ultimately, this will make you a better writer.

Start Your Journal For The Journey Today

  1. Start a poetic journal: Write short poems describing how you feel, what you see, and what you hear. Don’t worry if you’re not Neruda or Sandburg. That’s not the point. The point is to practice writing as a form of self expression and perhaps, therapy.
  2. Start a travel or time logI have a friend who keeps a travel/time log.  He only records small facts about where he was, what he was doing, and who was with him. It is a record, but very minimalistic in nature. He uses a calendar grid. He can tell you what he was doing on any given day for the past 30 years.
  3. Record your family history: Journaling about your past can provide both self-discovery and therapy. I wrote the story of my youth in a journal format. Years later, I wrote my first book, A Train Called Forgiveness, based on that journal.
  4. Log creative ideas: Maybe you have a head full of ideas for songs, poems, stories, movie scripts, architecture, business or cooking. Write your ideas down in a journal. Writing helps bring ideas to fruition.
  5. Start a thematic journal: Write a journal that follows a theme. Use books to promote the exercise of journaling. Themes can include religion, nature, diet, or physical activity.  The possibilities are endless when you simply journal for the journey.
  6. Just write about lifeFor many, this is a good place to start. Write about what’s happening in your day-to-day life. Include details. Be descriptive. Include your feelings. Your writing will improve.

Got Paper?

I still like to write on paper. I’ve found that purchasing a quality leather-bound journal and a nice pen inspires me to write more frequently. There’s still a sort of permanence that comes with writing on paper. If an electronic journal works better for you, go for it. I consider this blog a sort of electronic journal.

Start journaling. You’ll develop your writing skills while learning about yourself and the world around you. If you’d like more writing or blogging help, I currently have some coaching spots open. If you’d like more information, email me at danerickson@danerickson.net.


James Ewen
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