5 Reasons to Write: How Journaling is Beneficial

Education, journal, productivity, writing

I made the argument last week for keeping a digital journal, today I’d like to give you 5 reasons to keep a journal. Why writing is important.

1. Journaling Helps You Work Through Emotion:

This past Friday the school where I am employed lost a student under tragic circumstances. Although I did not know the student personally, many of my students did and I had to observe their grief and devastation. In a world full of social media it’s good to have a place where you can write what you’re feeling.

2. Journaling Makes You Aware Of How Far You’ve Come:

I look back at some of my entries from years past and realize I’ve made it through some tough times. There have also been things which, although monumental at the moment, seem inconsequential now. When you’re able to reflect upon all you’ve been through you being to realize how strong you really are.

3. Giving Gratitude:

I’m a Christian, but even if you aren’t, it’s still healthy to stop and give thanks every once and awhile. Again, it’s all about perspective and recoding where you are at each stage of your life.

4. A Memory Keeper:

Goes without saying, right? Just having a stash of your memories. The ability to remember who you were at different times in your life. I was an outspoken teen, with an active social life, and defiant opinions. I’m a much calmer, more private, adult but I like remembering who I once was, the brashness at which I viewed the world in black and white before I ever really entered it. I’m able to revisit that girl and relive memories I’d otherwise forgotten. Even better, I have textual evidence for my own daughter when she becomes a teenager: yes, I was once your age and yes, I can understand how you feel.

5. Judgement Free Zone:

Your journal is a judgment free zone. Journaling is different than talking to a person. You can say whatever is on your mind (good, bad, politically incorrect, diabolically evil) and you won’t be judged for it, no one is going to give you unsolicited advice, and you don’t have to worry about “likes”. Journaling provides freedom in ways you may not appropriate until you make it a part of your life. It’s healthy to just let it all out every once in awhile.

A digital journal remains to be my favorite way to express myself, but writing in any form is beneficial. I make my students journal for 10 minuets at the start of every class period. Although I provide prompts, I prefer they choose their own topics. My hope is that I’m giving them a tool to help them deal with life long after they’ve forgotten Shakespeare.

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The Argument for a Digital Diary

journal, Organization, productivity, Technology, writing

I’ve been an avid journal writer for most of my life. I think it’s the narcissist in me, the same one who thought it was a good idea to try my hand at Hollywood, this thought that someday someone would care enough to read what I had written. It started in the 5th grade with a Scholastic Book Fair “diary” blue with pink hearts which by high school was a legit Laura Palmer type with a real lock and tiny keys. The diaries of my formative years are an open letter of who wronged me, who talked about me (who I was talking about, secret crushes and who attended what party.

Writing took on a whole new meaning in college when I moved away from home and everything I knew. No longer was I writing for an imaginary audience. As I struggled to find myself I wrote solely to sort out my ideas and feelings. To figure out where my place was in this world.

I never stopped. My career, my marriage, the deaths of loved ones, the birth of my child, successes, and some really dark times have all be recorded.

In 2010 I began using a digital journal on my Blackberry. In 2011 I switched to the iPhone and started using the Day One App. At first I was skeptical about digital journaling (and I’ll admit there’s a less comprehensive, yet Louis Vuitton, journal on my bedside table). There is something about putting pen to paper and leaving something behind for the next generation. I have my grandmother’s diary from 1915 and it’s an exquisite piece of history. There’s something to be said about expressing yourself using your own unique handwriting. If there’s one thing I can say about myself it’s that I have beautiful handwriting probably from all those years of journal writing. So I understand the argument for keeping your memories in a book,but here are some reasons to consider for either switching to a digital platform or keeping a digital journal in conjunction with a handwritten diary.

1. A digital journal is always with you: Life is busy. We’re constantly on the go. It’s not reasonable nor plausible that you’d have your paper journal with you everywhere. If you’re in the habit of writing things down as a way of catharsis than it’s beneficial to have that means to express yourself with you at all times. I once lived in a hotel for a month and there was no way I was leaving a traditional paper journal in my room.

2. A digital journal is more secure: If you choose one of the many popular journaling apps such as Day One, Wonderful Days or even Evernote, you can add a passcode or fingerprint lock to secure your writing. Day One even offers encryption as an added safeguard. The chances of someone “finding” your journal and gaining access are minimal.

3. It is a lot easier to add photos to your writing: Do places even develop photos anymore? I love being able to add photos to my entries, especially as I watch my daughter grow.

4. Unlimited space: My journal currently encompasses almost 8 years of memories. I’m saving space by not having all those books cluttering up my closet AND it’s much easier to return to my writing and read past entries, something I rarely do with my previous journals.

5. Writing becomes more organized: I can have multiple journals and tag entries according to subjects or yearly events.

I understand that some people may be worried about trusting “the cloud”. What if the internet goes down? What if the company (app) goes out of business? Those are legitimate concerns. I regularly export my journal as a PDF and save it on a removable hard drive. I have a friend who chooses select entries monthly, prints them out, and adheres them to a scrapbook.

A journal is a personal thing and it isn’t my place to tell anyone how to record their memories but if you’ve never considered a digital journal I hope I’ve offered viable reasons to give it a try. Below are my top three picks to start your mobile writing journey.

Day One

My Wonderful Days

Evernote