Journal writing is a voyage to the interior

Christina Baldwin

Have you ever had moments in your life when you like you didn’t really understand your own motives or choices? If you ever have this feeling, there is a simple way to find out why you do the things you do. Life can be a whirlwind of activity at times. Perhaps you have just been too busy of late to spend time thinking about what your priorities and goals really are, what they should be, or why you can’t stick to them.

One way to increase your self-understanding is journaling your thoughts and feelings. The idea of keeping a journal may sound strange to you. Most people don’t think of themselves as a writer. But even non-writers keep journals. When you open yourself to journaling, you open yourself to experiencing a new wealth of self-understanding.

Writing bits and pieces of your life experiences can be an incredible journey. Once you start thinking about something that happened to you in the past, you’ll find yourself remembering another story, then another.

Once you start making an effort to recall some of the experiences from your past, this will begin to trigger some of those memories that you haven’t thought about in years. All of the experiences that you will recall have combined to make you the person that you are today. Taking the time to sort back through some of your life stories will help you better understand yourself.

Where to begin:

1. Tools. Decide how you will write your story. Will you use a spiral notebook, composition notebook, or Moleskin? Will you be writing with a pen? Perhaps you would like to try it with your computer. Choose the tools that will work best for you. I journal better when I use pen and paper. Like anything else, no method works well if you don’t actually use it.

2. Just start! Don’t worry about starting at the very beginning. Interestingly, many people getting started in writing down stories of their lives because they “can’t remember back that far.” Where you start the story isn’t important. Starting it is.

3. Make chapters. Think of your life as a series of short chapters. To simplify your story, each situation you recall can be called a “chapter.” For example, you might remember the time your favorite uncle took you fishing and the boat tipped over. Go directly to your computer, or notebook, open up a blank page or document and start.

4. Ignore your inner “grammar Nazi.” Focus on getting your story down. Things like sentence structure, spelling, grammar, etc, are not all a top priority right now, unless you are planning to publish your journal unedited. You can deal with all those things later by going back through and editing the material.

5. Let the words flow. The order of your stories is irrelevant.

There are two ways to do your stories on the computer: (1) Open a new document for each “chapter” and title the document to describe the story, or (2) simply write all your stories in one document. Open that document when you feel like writing a story, and separate the stories by using chapter headings. If you feel the need later on, you can go back to the document and copy and paste the stories into whatever order you like.

6. Document what you remember. Get down information about what happened, what you did, what you thought, and how you felt. These seemingly meaningless details will ultimately help lead you to develop a better understanding of how you have lived your life as an adult.

Writing your life story is not all that difficult. If you keep your focus on getting the writing done and off of the end result, you will find yourself recalling more and more parts of your life. Plus, you will begin to understand and even love yourself better than you ever have before!

Start now to journal some of the stories from your life.

Soon after, you will be very glad you did!


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