Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Joy of Journal Writing

I just finished a historical fiction novel today.  It's one of the great joys about spring break = the ability to catch up with my reading!  The format of this novel was a journal.  Reading this book made me reflect on how much I loved keeping a journal when I was younger.  I still keep a journal, but I write in it less often than I used to -- mostly due to time constraints.  But the more I progress through the month writing these "Slices of Life," I realize that it's a choice.  Writing daily is a choice, and I have to see it as a commitment of time.  I always loved keeping a journal, for many reasons.  Though many of my journals are comical to read now, it was a very special place in which to write my thoughts, emotions, and learnings about life.  I have been motivated more and more lately to renew my journal writing habit.

There are several purposes for writing in a journal.  Some of these are:

*Writing in a journal helps me to capture the events of the day.
*Journal writing is therapeutic.
*Writing in a journal may not help to literally solve problems, but it's very calming.
*Journal writing is a stress reliever.
*Writing in a journal helps me to think through situations.
*Journal writing is a great place for list-making.
*Writing in a journal promotes a sense of peace and helps me to think positively.
*Journal writing is a place for writing deepest thoughts.  It's a confidant of sorts.  
*Writing in a journal is a great place for setting goals.
*Journal writing is comforting.
*Writing in a journal helps with further writing ideas.
*Journal writing is a place to share sorrows, hopes, and fears.
*Writing in a journal helps to tell a life story.

I encourage my students to sometimes choose journal writing as a writing activity in their notebooks from time to time as well.  I use the term, "Daily Pages," which is a term that Aimee Buckner uses in her book Notebook Know-How.  This is one strategy that students can use to describe their day, what they are thinking about, or just as an old-fashioned "What I did Today" kind of entry.  This type of writing doesn't take up the bulk of their writing in writing workshop, but I encourage students to write a "Daily Pages" entry every once in awhile in order to be reflective and thoughtful about their lives and daily happenings.

After all this talk about journal writing, I think I'm off to write an entry now!


  1. I think I struggle between my writer's notebook writing and journal writing. Sometimes I just want to record moments or parts of our lives right now, and yet sometimes I don't find that drives me to write. Do you journal daily? I've been pondering the idea of keeping journals for my kids, but worry I wouldn't be able to keep up.

    1. Thanks for the response :) I don't journal daily, but I used to when I was younger, for many years. I have found that I am turning more toward an electronic journal experience, because I type much faster than I write. However, I love the old-fashioned journal and appreciate looking back on handwritten entries, too. One idea I might implement is to have one day in writing workshop per week be a journal/diary kind of writing day. That way, most days, we are working on meaningful writing pieces, but we can still honor the importance of journal writing, too.

  2. Yes, I Agree. Your points for journaling should encourage more people to journal. Having students use a journal can show growth or misconceptions. I think it becomes a good habit for students too.

  3. I've been thinking of this post Katherine wrote a while ago for a long time, and after reading your post today, I think it's time I take action. Check out how cool she made her quick daily journal entries, including using categories and colors:
    It was cool I just had to share!!
    Enjoy the rest of your break!

    1. Thanks for sharing this site! I love the idea of journaling with colors! It makes things sound more exciting! I also like the idea of keeping it to a minimum time frame so as to not feel overwhelmed. Keep me posted on your journaling experiences!

  4. I think my blog has become my journal. I am reading Troy Hicks Digital Writing Workshop book and he is talking about personal posts being drafts that are never published...this is my aha...though I do love my black and white composition. What historical fiction novel did you read?

    1. Beth - Thanks for responding. I thought too about my blog kind of being my journal as well. I've also done some blogging that I set to a "private" setting, which serves as kind of a journal experience too. Like you, I also like the physical journal, too, so I am kind of caught in between a digital preference (I type much faster and enjoy typing sometimes more than handwriting my entries) and a tangible method (I love all of my old journals and still buy journal books just because I love them!). The fiction novel was called My Father's World by Michael Phillips. It's an inspirational historical fiction novel, part of a series of 8 books.

  5. I used to keep journals all the time when I was younger and have gotten away from it since blogging. I do find journaling my free flowing thoughts to be very therapeutic.