The Joys of Journal Writing

If you’ve followed this blog, you know I am a journal writer. A the end of the past year, I decided to gather my journals from the various shelves, nooks, and crannies where they’re tucked and put them all into a plastic container. I want to store them under my bed, an easy place to get to them and begin taking them out one at a time for re-reading.

Tonight I discovered that I had vastly underestimated the size of container needed. I have approximately thirty-five years of journals, and the container I bought that fits under the bed will only hold ten years worth.

Ten years worth of journals, two a year.

I began journal writing in my early twenties. There were no journal writing teachers or classes or gurus like there are now. Nor, as far as I knew, the term journal writer. I thought more in terms of diary, until I read about the journals kept by one of my favorite authors, Catherine Marshall. Mrs. Marshall used simple spiral bound notebooks, and this simple idea inspired me. I had no idea that my compulsive journal writing was a clue to my being a writer.

Day after day, year after year I have written my heart on lined pages. In the first writing course that I took, mystery writer and teacher Carolyn Hart required the class to keep a journal, and to turn it in. There were moans from the younger students around me, but I smiled, eager to do something that came naturally to me. I wasn’t about to turn in my real journal, of course, so I kept a second, far less intimate one.

Sometime in the late 1980s, A friend gave me The Artist Way, by Julia Cameron. Morning pages is Cameron’s famous tool for connecting to creativity. I wanted to keep a second notebook, or just write on legal tablets what was likely to be an abundance of gibberish flowing out, and best thrown away. Yet mostly I wrote in my journals. I discovered that I had pretty much been letting my thoughts flow for years into my journals– my thoughts, my struggles, frustrations, heartaches, and, more and more, my hopes, dreams, and joys. And I never have thrown them away.

If you are a journal writer, you might find interesting the video below, by Christian Baldwin, author and journal writer. She offers some intriguing suggestions to get you started and deepen your journal writing.