Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hidden Benefits of Keeping a Journal


A friend asked if I would contribute a true-life story to a book he has been asked to write. I thought about incidents in my life that might add to what he is trying to do. I remembered something that happened a long, long time ago, but I couldn't recall with clarity names and dates, so I pulled out one of my journals. 

First let me tell you, I'm not a consistent journal writer. I'd rather write a fictional story. And I probably wouldn't keep a journal at all, but my church encourages members to keep one, so over the years I have on occasion written about special events in my life. 

Monday I turned to the page where I'd written about this certain event and started to read. I ended up spending most of Monday and part of Tuesday reading my journals and learning something about myself as a writer and most importantly as a person. 

As a writer . . . 
Lo those many years ago, I yearned to have a book published. And as I read what I'd written way back then, I could see that my writing lacked structure and needed editing. I must say, however, that my penmanship was much better when I was younger. I read through the years and found where I'd received encouraging letters from agents and editors. And then, finally, I read about the day my first book was accepted for publication. All those years of work and waiting paid off. Lesson learned as a writer . . . keep working on your craft, keep setting goals, believe in yourself, and you'll make it.

As a person . . .
As I read about the young mother I was back then, I could see my world was very small. Reading through one experience after another, I remembered some of life's hard knocks and how many times I struggled as a mother and wife. I worried as my children grew through their trying teenage years and felt sorrow when they were hurt. I noticed my tone changed as well. No longer was I an innocent young mother full of hope. I was a worried parent wanting my children to make good choices. I read about my daughter's wedding, and when my other daughter went on her mission. I read about my son graduating from college the day after my mother passed away and how I was filled with great sorrow from losing her, but also great happiness and pride in my son. I could see where I'd made mistakes, where I wished I'd made better choices, and how much I missed people who are no longer in my life. Lesson learned as a person . . . I've been through some tough times, but I've also been through good times as well.

Writing in a journal has hidden benefits because it not only records history and hones your writing, but it's also a reminder of how far you've traveled as a writer and a person. You know what? I wish I had written more.

What about you? Do you keep a journal? What are the benefits you have found from writing in a journal?



  1. It was good to hear from you! Yes I keep a journal--drawers full of them! I have since I was a teen. Some years are leaner than others. I love going back and seeing how God worked through so many of the situations I was worrying in. I learn so much from them!

  2. Terri:
    Isn't it amazing how God helps us through our trials? I'm very grateful. Reading my journal helped to remind just how much He does every day.

  3. I keep a daily journal, even though I'm just a teenager. It helps me to remember what I do from day to day and events I probably wouldn't remember at all. Looking back, I'm able to see my progression and I agree with Terri, my journal is definitely a witness of how the Lord has had a hand in my life.

  4. Emily,
    That's great! I wish I had started when I was a teen. That would have been interesting. Keep up the good work!

  5. I've never been able to journal. Tried a few times. Good for you!

  6. Carol,
    I understand. I've only written on occasion, but I wish I had written more often. :)



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