Journal Writing Basics: What is Journaling?

by Amber Lea Starfire on August 14, 2010

catnav-journaling-activePost #2 – Memoir Writing, Journaling – Amber Starfire

JournalVsDiary

Keeping a Journal versus Keeping a Diary

ONCE upon a time, people used to keep diaries. Now, they keep journals. So, you might ask, “What exactly is journaling and how is it different than writing in a diary?”

Practically speaking, there is no real difference between a diary and journal, except how the terms are conventionally used. A diary can be narrowly defined as a brief record of what you did on a particular day: “Went to work, visited Mom, stopped by the library on my way home, and borrowed To Kill a Mockingbird.” You might also add some thoughts about those events: “Dyed my hair red today. It looks great. Why didn’t I do this sooner?” The operative word in this definition is brief.

On the other hand, a journal is thought of as a place to record experiences and reflections on a regular basis, not always daily, and implies a deeper look at attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and emotions, as well as events. You might, for example, write about the political and social issues going on at work and examine why you don’t get along with the department secretary. While writing, you realize that she has a habit that reminds you of your mother, triggering some negative associations with your childhood. This realization may lead to some deeper reflection about how your childhood affects your adult relationships, and so on.

While it was once commonplace to keep diaries, today this deeper approach to daily life through the act of journal writing has become so commonplace that “to journal” has become a verb. Thus, we are “journaling” when we write in our journal.

Journaling is a rewarding, open-ended, habitual activity that can be as personal and private, or as impersonal and public, as you want it to be. Journals are as versatile as the minds of their creators; they can include writing, art, doodling, or photography. Simply put, there are no wrong ways to keep a journal. You can use pen and paper, or your computer. The only “rule,” if there is such a thing, is that in order to get the most benefit from journal writing, it must be done regularly — daily, twice or three times a week, rarely less frequently than once a week.

Do you want to start a journal or keep one more consistently? Future articles will feature information on how to get started and stay inspired. We’ll talk about different journaling techniques and topics that will help you to deepen your journal writing practice, including how to use journaling for personal growth, emotional healing, artistic expression, and memoir.

Get Your Free Journaling e-Book

So, are you ready to start journaling or to increase your commitment to this useful process? I’ve created a FREE bonus e-book, Journaling Essentials: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Keep a Journal for you to download. It’s full of tips and writing exercises designed to help you make the most of journaling. Just look to your right (in the middle column) where you’ll see the second item in the list. Provide your name and email address, then watch your email. The email will provide a link; click on it to download your copy. It’s totally free…my gift to you.

Want Your Friends to Get this Free e-Book?

ShareThisIf you would like your friends to get a copy of Journaling Essentials: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Keep a Journal , we’ve made it easy for you. Below this post, you’ll see the words in blue: ShareThis. If you move your cursor over that link, there is a pop-up window. Just click on Email, add names of your friends and a brief message, and click on Send. Your message is sent to all your friends. Then they can get this e-book while it’s being offered for free (a $7.95 value).

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Image Credits: Composite of “Journal” by Mindful One, “Dear Diary” by Incurable Hippie, and “Pen and Paper” by Churl
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