Why should you take time from your busy day to journal? Because stories rise up out of journaling, and even if they don’t, your story matters. No one can tell your story but you.
Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 started my journaling about the new relationship I found, on Craigslist of all places, in 2011. I wrote about my fears and needs as well as our daily adventures. Later, those entries triggered my memory and recaptured my feelings. By reading them I remembered how I felt then and how I feel now.
Write as often as you can. Add photos. Remember your audience may be friends and family who live a very different life. What do you want them to know about you and the way you live? Answer that question and you have a reason to tell your story.
Don’t worry about rules. Your journal—your rules.
Not sure how to start? There are two surefire ways:
One is to start with a sensory image.
I’m writing on my laptop and listening to the muted clicks of the black keys that glow from the light underneath.
I’m at Starbuck’s, listening to the snatches of conversation that whirl around me.
Afternoon sunlight makes the leaves on the ivy outside my window look shiny.
The second surefire way to start is with a sentence start:
- I want…
- I remember…
- What if…
- Today I feel…
- On the best day of my life…
- Love is…
- A year from now…
A year from now made me stop and think. It helped me make a decision, even when I felt it was too soon.
Where can you find sentence starts?
There are over 200 of them listed in You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers. This isn’t an ad; it’s a resource. Or skip the book and e-mail me through the contact box on Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com. I’ve been writing sentence starts for my free writing group for 15 years. I’ll be happy to attach a few pages of them to an e-mail.
Can you reuse a sentence start? Absolutely! As you do so you’ll discover your change and growth.
As you’re writing, trust your instincts. Trust yourself. Who do you want to be? How do you want the world to perceive you? What do you want the reader to know? Let those questions guide you. What is your message? How can your experience help others? Answers to these questions will guide you.
Read your journals over. Underline what you love. Write down any questions the journal brings up. These questions are guides for going deeper if you wish to pursue a subject.
Just do it, and soon you’ll have your own list of journaling benefits to share with the world. Journaling changed my life; give it a chance to change yours.
Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice (www.writeradvice.com). She’s written Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 (memoir), Talent (YA) and You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (self help). Never Too Late and Talent are multiple award winners.
Shorter works have appeared in Hip Mama, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com and Flashquake, among other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network as well as Writer Advice and is available to write guest blogs. She lives east of Berkeley and west of the San Joaquin Valley with her energizer-bunny husband and their exceptional terrier.