Newsflash: You don’t have to be Anne Frank or Virginia Woolf to write a journal. In fact, Anne Frank was a regular teenager caught amidst the horrors of the Holocaust when she started writing her diary. Your journal doesn’t have to dispel wisdom or enlighten the masses; instead, it should be a source of comfort for you, an outlet for your feelings, and something your great-great grand children can remember you by. Having said as much, maintaining a regular journal is no child’s play. It requires discipline, patience and perseverance among other things. If you are just getting started, take this course to kickstart your journal/memoir writing experience. For those of you in a hurry, learn how to write your memoirs in a single weekend.
1. Pick a medium
Have you always been enamored by the old school combination of a thick, leather bound journal and a classic fountain pen? Go ahead and fulfill your fantasy. Alternatively, you could also use Notepad, Microsoft Word or a specialized journal writing software like Life Journal to pin down your thoughts and experiences. Both of these options have their share of pros and cons. A physical diary is more portable and some people need the earthly feel of parchment to get into the mood of writing. On the other hand, a software is more convenient and efficient as you can organize your journal, go back and forth and create a pattern, if your are into that sort of thing. Not to mention, these can be password protected. After all, you don’t want your diary to fall prey to Peeping Tom, do you?
2. Pick a subject
Contrary to popular belief, a journal doesn’t have to be limited to the narration of your life story. You can write about a variety of topics, ranging from hard core philosophy to travel experiences to politics. That’s the beauty of this form, it is flexible enough to encompass a wide spectrum of thoughts.
a. Pour your heart out
Writing about your heartfelt experiences is the most obvious choice when it comes to picking a subject for your journal. Don’t be shy to narrate your life story even if it seems completely uneventful to you. Seemingly trivial things like your first love or a teenage heartbreak can teach you a thing or two about how life works. Many years later, when you look back at your journals, you might be surprised at how much you have grown up over the years. At the same time, this is a great way to share your life with your family and loved ones.
Take this course to pick up some useful tips about penning down your life story.
b. Random meditations
A journal is the perfect place to unleash the hidden philosopher within you. Put on your thinking cap and ruminate about random topics like things you are scared of, the meaning of life, the value of suffering and pain etc. On a lighter note, write about a movie you loved or a book that influenced you deeply.
3. Experiment with writing styles
It is no coincidence that the greatest of writers were in the habit of writing journals. A journal gave them the opportunity to experiment with new writing styles, tone and diction. Virginia Woolf once described her journal as “something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind”. Take a cue from some of the best journals through history and try new ways of writing. Not only will this improve your writing ability, it will also make for a refreshing change in your journal.
4. Look back on your journal
Every now and then, look back at your journal with an eye to edit, not censor. Remember, a journal should be home to your deepest thoughts. While reflecting on your entries, don’t let the moralizing impulse get the better of you. To the contrary, your aim should be to edit and revise your journal. Go through earlier entries and think about how you would have expressed yourself differently. Alternatively, you might actually disagree with your own thoughts. Make notes about how your thought process has changes over the years. This adds a certain kind of depth and complexity to your journals and reflects on your personality and inner self. The growth you witness can have a surprisingly therapeutic effect on you.
Share your experience of writing a journal in the comments section below.