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Old 07-22-2006, 07:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Are there any downsides to keeping a journal?

In this post, I am defining a journal as a private journal, meant only for the writer, and not the masses or others, such as blogs or online journals; the key factor is that it's private.

I am considering starting up a journal. My main barrier that I have to overcome on a personal level is that I feel that once I write something down it is open to be read by others, and thus I won't be as open a I would if I knew it were going to be entirely private; IE left in my head/thoughts.

Seeing that I am not familiar with journaling, I am curious about whether there are any downsides to the practice? Have those of you that do journal experienced negative aspects of opening up to the level you do when journaling?

Also, as a bit of an aside... Does anyone have any good journal/book recommendations? Sizes, brands, pencil/pen, etc.. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 07-22-2006, 08:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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One of the best reasons for keeping a journal of any sort is growth and remembrance.
Journals are almost like analytical dreams. By seeing our feelings instead of experiencing the abstract of them, we can see where we're going, how to correct things, how to place matters into levels of importance, etc. Then, as we go along in life, it's carthartic to go back and read where we were in relation to where we are.
Journals also keep a level of thought flowing; sometimes you're feeling a certain way, but can't really place or express it, then by beginning to write, it becomes clearer.
Remembrance helps with the smaller details we tend to forget and the feelings we had when those things happened. I kept a journal going through my journey of pregnancy, early motherhood and the actions and growth of my children.
Any simple composition book can be a journal-you don't have to get one specific for the task of journalling, although they are out there. As for pen, etc., you use what you're comfortable writing with. If you're one to write on the fly, a small notebook from walmart would do the trick.
Happy journalling!
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Old 07-22-2006, 10:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have been an avid-journaler since age 7.

My parents bought me the same journals for years. White cover. Large, lined pages. Plenty of space to write. Now I find those bulky and difficult to write in. Plain black & white academic-style composition book works great, though I'm a sucker for the fancy paper one finds in the journals at Boarders. I love the all-natural papers with leaves and flowers built into the paper, but find it impractical for daily writing. I tend to switch brands and styles with each journal, searching for the ultimate in paper perfection.

I have recently switched to journals that fit into my purse. I find it handy to be able to take my journal with me and write on the fly.

Journaling is a lifestyle. It is a way of processing your thoughts and getting your thoughts out in a way that no one should see or read. It is also a method of coping. I write with the understanding that there is always potential for someone to read what I write. I assume some great-grandniece will stumble upon them long after I'm gone. I do keep my paper journals private, and my online journals more public.

I like the standard stalk PaperMate black tip, white body pens. I usually find a package of 12 for 65cents around "back to school" time at Target. While I was in France, I grew quite fond of another pen style, which is unfortunately no longer in production. I prefer the "Cheap" PaperMates because they always write, and their ink is honestly quite reliably slick. Something about the weight and balance of the pen works with my fingers as well. I have mastered this particular pen and pray that it will never leave production as long as I am able to write. I would mourn the loss of my plain-jane pens. I am not fond of gel pens of any new-fangled pen that I have tried. Occasionally I will find one that I enjoy, but invariably I cannot find it the next time I shop. So I stick with the PaperMate.

Journaling takes some getting used to. At first, you never quite know what to write. But then when you're in the habit, the words start to gush. That's when you know you'll never turn back.

My brother once kept a journal. he wrote in it for years. then ripped every page out and burned them, leaving the empty shell on his shelf. Something very emotional about it. It's the same as mine - save his name in the front cover. Even this journal is something to be treasured. It speaks of a time that only the writer will remember.
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Old 07-23-2006, 07:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think keeping a journal is a great thing to do. I used to write in mine everyday until I was 16. I wish I had kept it up. I would recommend not having an online journal though if you want to keep it private. That way you don't have to feel reluctant to write what you are truly feeling.
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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i always wanted to write on a daily basis.

i never was able to do so, then i started writing here. i now keep 2 journals, one here and another more controllable one for family and friends that i cannot see on a regular basis. Even my wife reads it because there are just some topics i won't bring up in conversation but will be willing to discuss if she brings it up.

for the private entries, i don't write so many of them anymore but once in a while i do. i do write in my PDA like it's portable way like pen and paper. It's nice to be able to put thoughts down and look at them in the future. i have been writing for about 3 years now, sometimes it's daily, sometimes every few hours, and sometimes it goes a week or two.

biggest downside is that someone may read it... since it's no longer locked in your head.
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Old 07-23-2006, 08:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I also would kind of like to start, but don't seem to need to. I have written on a daily basis for short periods of time, but I generally find them to be mostly my whining and bitching to myself. The deeper thoughts I have, I tend to discuss with someone... Mainly my father, whom I can talk to about anything and everything. But that's just my take. I might start one day.
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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I have kept a regular journal since I was about 8 years old (I'm 27 next month), and I have never regretted doing so. I've gone through probably 25+ bound journals, usually bought from the journal section at Barnes and Noble... mine MUST be unlined, because I hate feeling that restriction on my writing!

And sure, occasionally a friend or parent would stumble across my journal, and I'd freak out... but usually it didn't end up being a big deal, and when I was a teenager, it was probably better if people knew what was going through my head anyway. As years pass, I care less if anyone reads my older journals, because the issues I wrote about have become irrelevant over time and are instead just a record of who I was in that season of my life.

The peak of my journaling was in college, when I would write for 30-60 mins every day, on average. Sometimes longer. I filled up book after book after book... I couldn't live without writing every day. Then, after college, I slowed down a bit since I started teaching high school and that consumed most of my waking hours. I went to Iceland and started journaling furiously again, since I had more time and space to think there... it was very freeing to journal in that beautiful, quiet place. I figured out a lot of things about myself by journaling in Iceland. It was a key part of my development.

Eventually I made it to grad school and kept writing, though once I started dating ktspktsp, my journaling tapered off significantly. It was important for me to start it up again, since I was not setting aside much time for myself in the relationship... so after a year and a half, I think, I got back into it. I've been trying to keep it up regularly since then.

Well, I don't think that was what you were looking for, but hopefully it was semi-interesting. Good luck, and there really isn't much harm in journaling. Find a good place to hide it, and you're set!

And genuinegirly: I prefer those PaperMate black pens, too... simple is best for me.
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Old 07-24-2006, 06:05 AM   #8 (permalink)
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from about age 14 or so til my late 30s - I kept a paper journal... I wrote in it on a daily basis... and every new years eve, I would burn the journal in a blaze of glory or something... Kind of like out with the old - in with the new - there probably was some stuff in those journals I would have like to have preserved but there was probably more stuff that I didn't want... and I surely didn't want anyone else reading it...

Lately I've been thinking about doing it again... but I can't quite motivate myself to get there...
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Old 07-24-2006, 06:26 AM   #9 (permalink)
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In the fifth grade I had to keep one for class. I found it years later, I was either in high school or older. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff I put in there. I had this huge crush on this girl in my class, and most of the content talked about her. My teachers read it and graded it; I wonder what she thought of me after reading what I wrote.

My senior year in college I took a business ethics class, and we had to keep a journal for that class too. We HAD to make a entry EVERYDAY and each entry had to be 2 pages TYPED. On top of that we had a Three page paper due each week and two term papers due as well. I ended up doing almost a hundred typed pages in a seven week period. That turned me off from journals. The few entries that I have here are the closes I have done to any kind of journals since.
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Old 07-24-2006, 07:35 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The downside?

You may get a clearer insight on yourself than you wanted.
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Old 07-24-2006, 07:48 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
The downside?

You may get a clearer insight on yourself than you wanted.
I work in precisely the opposite way. And that's why journals have a massive downside to me. As soon as I write something down, I don't have to remember it. I could murder someone, write it in my journal, and everything would be forgiven and forgotten.

Its like making a list of things to buy at the grocery store. As soon as I write it down, I don't have to be concerned with trying to remember it. In the same way, as soon as I write something down in a journal, I forget about it.

If I did that, I'd never make any progress with my life. It's only by remembering and thinking through my life that I come to a mental conclusion. That's just how I work, I guess.

Same thing with note-taking.. it goes through my ear to my paper and I never remember it. If I listen and concentrate on learning, I do tenfold better.
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Old 07-24-2006, 01:30 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JinnKai
I work in precisely the opposite way. And that's why journals have a massive downside to me. As soon as I write something down, I don't have to remember it. I could murder someone, write it in my journal, and everything would be forgiven and forgotten.

Its like making a list of things to buy at the grocery store. As soon as I write it down, I don't have to be concerned with trying to remember it. In the same way, as soon as I write something down in a journal, I forget about it.

If I did that, I'd never make any progress with my life. It's only by remembering and thinking through my life that I come to a mental conclusion. That's just how I work, I guess.

Same thing with note-taking.. it goes through my ear to my paper and I never remember it. If I listen and concentrate on learning, I do tenfold better.
In that respect I think you and I are similar. Though I don't fully forget it.

I just have this stigma about anything I write being fluent, and the thoughts ordered. To figure things out, I need to tumble them over and over in my head, try to rearrange them, match peices of them to other shit that I know, and finally talk to someone about it.

As far as notes, I do best also when I just pay attention. I did surprisingly well in a few of the classes I would go to, and just sit head bent, pen in hand, scrawling ink drawings all over the notebook backs, and pages.

But that's just how I straighten shit in my head out.
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I've been writing in a journal for a long time now. I try to write about once a week, though sometimes that picks up if there's something going on in my life that I'm having trouble working through.

I like writing my thoughts down because I like thinking on paper. Writing allows me to proceed from one thought to the next with more focus than if I was trying to work things out in my head.

I also like having a record of what was going on in my life at the time. Journals are great for working things out in your life if you need to, but it's also nice to be able to read past entries and see what kind of person you used to be.

As for downsides, I can't really see any. If you're the type of person who doesn't like to share their feelings then maybe you'll be even less inclined to do so if you keep a journal, but that's about all I can think of. Sometimes after writing in my journal I have an easier time communicating how I'm feeling about something, so I would see that as an upside. But you may be different.

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Old 07-24-2006, 06:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I've thought about doing it myself. The one reason I don't? Paper trail. I would like to be able to put down my thoughts, dreams, aspirations, etc. on paper, but only for myself. I would have lots of 'splainin' to do if someone found and read my journal. For that reason, I must lock away all my deep thoughts and feelings, kind of like protecting the ones I love from me.
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Old 07-25-2006, 05:04 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Reasons not to keep a journal? Journaling takes time away from doing things you would want to write in your journal.
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Old 07-25-2006, 06:38 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I wish I would have kept a journal from the day I got my first job! As I have had many... shall I say INTERESTING jobs, I could have written a book by now about all the things ive seen, heard and done. A best seller too I might add! Alas, I did not and have regretted it for many many years. *sigh*
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Old 07-25-2006, 01:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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journals can be interesting--they can help with any things--in my case, keeping one has here helped me get around a long block.

if i have a problems with journals, it is that the usual ways of keeping them bore me...so i figure out other things to do with it.

i use the journal here to work out formal issues--usually by trying to perform them one way or another---sometimes these issues are connected to other projects, but i dont talk about them here in the main.

what is stange is that what i might do in the journal never actually makes it into the other projects. this was not the plan, but it is how things have worked out.

i keep a paper one intermittently--i am not really interested in a diary, so i use it mostly to experiment with words, including group writing.

as for downsides: my handwriting is allegedly totally illegible (i battle these false claims daily to no avail) i dont worry much about privacy violations

journals can substitute for other forms of writing, which can be a problem if you have to do other forms of writing.

they can be embarrasing later--years later, you can read stuff you wrote during a difficult period and conclude that you were wholly insane during that period.
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Old 07-25-2006, 01:31 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roachboy
they can be embarrasing later--years later, you can read stuff you wrote during a difficult period and conclude that you were wholly insane during that period.
Yes!! Very true. But not altogether a bad thing.
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Old 07-25-2006, 07:34 PM   #19 (permalink)
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keeping a journal is great.
i've kept one since i was 16--actually many since then
i get really creative with them sometimes..i write poetry, draw in them, anything abstract that comes to mind.
it's a nice way to look back on them and realize how much you grow and change as a person.
the only thing i always worry about is having my parents read them!!!!
so now i try abd write "in codes" a little, just in case

i love choosing the type of journal i'll buy to write in next--it's got to inspire me, so i choose something smaller, colourful ect..ok i said enough lol
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Old 07-26-2006, 05:33 AM   #20 (permalink)
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The only drawback I've found to keeping a private journal is: having a little brother who knows about it and steals it to share with his friends.

When I was a teenager my journal did not include a lot of personal stuff though. It pissed me off that my brother took it and then worst of all - lost it. I had kept personal opinions and views from the day the Gulf War began. I kept statistics and political information in there. Even had a few clippings. My intention was to share it with my class when I became a teacher.

Other than that I've seen a lot of useful things come from Journals. My Great Aunt kept one during the depression when she was a teacher in a one room school. She shared it with us shortly before she passed away and we went through it in school (We being my brother, mother and I - we were homeschooled) and then we'd call her to clarify things or get more insight on particular subjects that she mentioned. It was a huge insight into a subject that can be boring for kids to study out of a book. It was exciting and fun.

Journals Rock.
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Old 07-26-2006, 09:25 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Old 01-24-2008, 04:36 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Journal statistics

Can anyone link me to any statistics regarding the masses that keep blogs, or the sales of journals? It is part of a project I'm doing on creative self discovery.
thanks in advance
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Old 01-24-2008, 06:06 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I've journaled almost since I could write. I really do love being able to go back and read my own thoughts about things. It does show progress in thinking and emotional maturity.

And yes, I have read stuff I've written and concluded that I was completely insane at the time. I'll probably think the same thing about some of the stuff I write now.
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Old 01-24-2008, 06:06 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I was given one of those lock-and-key girly diaries when I was 4 or 5. By the time I was twelve I used notebooks to handwrite my feelings on a daily basis. My first husband destroyed it after our marriage (I'm very calm now) and I didn't write a thing for years. I began blogging publicly about 6 or 7 years ago, but stopped about 2-1/2 years ago, thinking I didn't need to because I was busy in a relationship.

I'm just now beginning to open myself back up. Journaling is a good thing for me. I'm the opposite of JinnKai. I need to write to express, to think things out, to see them in print and so that I don't forget. The writing reinforces and, over time, helps me to peek through the clouds.

As for private or public, doesn't matter. As long as you can be honest with yourself. Personally, I find that knowing someone could be reading what I say keeps me honest, as I usually end up meeting someone from a group or blogging area. And reading others blogs and journals can help you realize your own problems ain't so bad. There's something to be said for watching others' thoughts and growth processes. We can't help but learn and grow, too. And so, I attempt to do the same for others.
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:14 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I have been keeping a journal since my sophomore year of high school (I am 24 now). I prefer to keep my verbose journal on my computer. While I like to write long hand, my mind goes faster than my writing. I have kept it on several computers and in the beginning I would worry about someone reading it but then I reread it and figured out that my life was really boring to read about. The writing is alive to me since it is my thoughts but most anyone else who would read it would think that I am boring.
I also keep a paper notebook for story fragments, thoughts, song lyrics, pictures, etc. I enjoy writing either in the electronic version or the hand written on because after something it is written, it is one less thing for me to worry about.
Good luck.
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:19 PM   #26 (permalink)
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My journal is where I place thoughts too self-centered to be useful to anybody else.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:03 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyGimp
Can anyone link me to any statistics regarding the masses that keep blogs, or the sales of journals? It is part of a project I'm doing on creative self discovery.
thanks in advance
Now that's a very interesting thing to ask for.

I found this one on blogs with google:
http://www.caslon.com.au/weblogprofile1.htm
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:28 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I'm anti-journal but thats due to a few English teachers I had back in highschool.

They gave us some assignments but also wanted us to write spontaneously in it, as in keep a journal, which they would then read and grade. I'm sorry but I'm not keeping a journal for you guys to read my private thoughts, thanks. I normally got a C.

Of course if I could go back in time and redo that, I'd have given them something to read alright
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:56 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Of course if I could go back in time and redo that, I'd have given them something to read alright
A toad of an English professor in college expected his students to keep a journal as part of our grade. I gave him "something to read, alright." I wonder if he ever bothered to read those journals.

If I kept a journal here? That is so not going to happen. I don't want to be held responsible for a death by boredom.
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:25 PM   #30 (permalink)
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eh, given the shithole craziness that is my journal, i would have to assume that I would concur that in 5 years from now, if I were to look back, I'd be like "wtf is the matter with that douchebag?" and then go "oh yeah, that was me"


thats the only thing I dont like about em.
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:08 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Journaling is an excellent way to track your personal growth, your life and the events that made an impact. You also will be less inclined to gloss over or rewrite history, so to speak, when events are chronicled as they happen.
And yeah, some stuff is so self absorbed that no one needs to hear it.

And if you don't want your journals from years ago lying around ---burn them.
Glad to see there are still people around who want to keep some aspect of their lives private.
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:33 AM   #32 (permalink)
 
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there is no distinction between writing in a journal and other types of fiction.
proximity to what you're trying to communicate aside...
but even there, that you won't be able to communicate what you are trying to reproduce is given.
so you make it into something else.
that something else only exists in the sentences that you make, that you want to make refer in a particular way to your "real life"--but there is no "real life" in a journal--there is the life of the fictional character "i" who wanders about, bumping into things or having adventures. no matter how intimate the raw materials you work with, you are transforming them by writing them down. and in the transforming, they cease to be descriptions. that's how i think about a journal today.

i like the public versions because you have to explain more.
private journaling is talking to yourself.
because you're talking to yourself, they aren't really about being read.
so they're like talking on a phone knowing there's no dialtone--not only is no-one listening, but no-one can listen.

for me, today, writing is about distance and re-processing.
distance, reprocessing, taking over, doing something other, not moping but acting, doing something no matter how small: sentences.
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Old 01-26-2008, 09:06 AM   #33 (permalink)
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I've never had a written journal/diary, and all of my multiple attempts at keeping a regular blog online have failed. I'd post regularly for about a month and then it would just fall into oblivion.

I did hear on the radio the other day that apparently writing in a journal for 15 minutes a day can help extend your life for 15 years. Of course, they didn't cite a source, it's highly likely they're pulling shenanigans, but it's reasonable to think that keeping a journal has excellent theraputic benefits. Overall, I don't see any downsides to it unless it causes you stress/self-induced pressure when you think about writing in it as a task.
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Old 01-27-2008, 09:33 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Journaling is as varied as the individual. They can take many forms.

There are only a couple of downsides I can see.
1) You obsess so much over journaling that you don't grow or enjoy life.
2) It takes time away from other things you may want to do.

I had the lock and key diaries when I was a younger. I don't even remember what I wrote in them except that I started each day with Dear Diary. I tried to throw them away a couple of times because they had things written in them that I didn't want to deal with anymore. My dad kept bringing them back in the house and laying them on my desk saying that I'd want them someday. They are probably boxed up in my parent's basement.

I stopped journaling while I was in college. I was too busy with work and school to keep a journal. The only things I have to document those days are letters from my ex-fiance during our 2 year long-distance relationship.

I started personal journaling again when I moved out on my own. My journals consisted of various sketches and letters or poems to various people in my life.

Now, I'm more directed and I'm back to lists and fictional scenarios. When I get stuck or feel that I need to get a thought out publicly in order to make it 'real' or think someone else may benefit, I use my public journal.

I've used a variety of notebooks. I have the bound lined books, the spiraled hard cover sketch books, the small sketch/journal books, and cheap spiral notebooks. I like a colored pens because I classify things using color codes at times. However, I really enjoy using a pencil. I love the way they write smoothly and I can easily doodle and shade a sketch while I ponder.
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Last edited by shesus; 01-27-2008 at 10:25 AM..
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