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The Value of Journaling

Guest Post By Rob Rideout

Journaling ValueI guess you could say I started journaling when I was seventeen years old and took a sailboat trip up the coast of British Columbia with my friend’s dysfunctional family. I chronicled our trip, calling it “To Hell and Back in a Sailboat”. This was my first attempt at writing; my mother loved it and encouraged me to do more. I did two years later, at nineteen, when I traveled through all of Western Europe in a VW bus and kept a daily journal of that experience. I can’t remember exactly when I started daily journaling, but it was in my early twenties when I got married. I’ve pretty much been writing daily now for about forty years, with a few lapses during my lifetime where I just didn’t want to write anymore or was too messed up to write; at one point, I couldn’t even hold a pen due to alcoholism.

However, the written record I now possess of my life is incredible, and all written down by my own hand! Many times I have used my journals to look back and find some exact date or other info I needed; and there it was written down long ago. Daily writing keeps me sane, as paper is patient, and I can write out any feelings or frustrations I may have- to get them off my chest, so to speak. Writing is therapy to me and the more you write, the more you’ll be amazed at who you really are. When we talk, we use one part of our brain that responds automatic ally. But when we write, we stop to think before writing what we are going to say. The more you use your writing muscle in that creative part of your brain, the more it will develop and grow, showing you different ways to express yourself with words.

I recently published two books, after many years of rewrites. It was a long, slow process but now I can say that I am a published author and semi immortal, now that my inspirational memoir is out there in cyberspace and Amazon. And I never could have written my books without the years of practice I acquired through journaling. My old journals came in handy again when looking up the spelling of some village in India or Fiji. What is really amazing, however, is that what I actually wrote was often times far different than my memories of the experience! I see that our memories often get distorted and exaggerated over time. That must be the nature of the human mind. But when you can go back and read what really happened in your journal, you’ll be amazed at what you wrote!

Here is an example from my 1979 journal in Fiji Islands:

“Dec. 21- I actually slept okay on the floor last night. The three bachelors taking care of us had coffee and pineapples all ready upon waking- taking care of us greatly. We are presently at a beautiful white sand beach south of Savusavu where I went snorkeling with Bruce in the clearest water yet. A lone horse is next to me as I write this. He accidently smashed all of my bananas when he smelt them in my pack. We ran into red haired Don from Canada again- what a small world! Laid out in the sun some more, to keep that tan that I so adore; how egotistical is that? Then I read some pages out of Paul Brunton’s book about holy men in the Himalayas. It seems to keep me aspiring spiritually here. I tried to meditate by the ocean but my attempts were futile. Maybe someday I’ll be the yogi I really want to be.”

I can barely even remember writing these words years ago, but there you have it and there it is- all thanks to journaling. In fact, when I’m dead and long gone, somebody could take my years of journals and create many movies, stories or books just from the written legacy I’ve daily recorded. Think about it. It is never too late to start writing out your thoughts about your life, as nobody thinks like you do and nobody can do it but you. So, my advice to you now is to start writing daily what is going on in your mind, heart and life. It is one of the greatest blessings you can bestow upon yourself!


Singer/songwriter Rob Rideout is the award winning author of Still Singing, Somehow. He lives on a farm overlooking Colville, WA with his three cats Baba, Maya and Olive. He just released a second book of poetry, based on his song lyrics and has a CD of original songs scheduled for release May 2011. These songs of three decades are meant to accompany both books.  Rob’s books can be viewed or purchased at www.stillsingingsomehow.com He can be contacted there too. Be sure to check out his blog on the home page of his website. 

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