Honestly, keeping a diary always struck me as an exercise in self-involvement. Just sitting there staring at your belly button ... and writing about it. Can't figure what that solves. Then again, I find introspection among the most overrated virtues -- so maybe I'm not the target audience.
Journals are a good receptacle for thoughts you'd just like out of your head, if you're not narcissisistic enough to believe other people would read it if you put it in a blog. I've kept one on and off through the years, but I write mostly observations and lessons learned in essay form. Essentially, if I'd like to write about something related to daily life, that I don't believe anyone would want to read, it goes in the journal. It has taken the place of the "comedic" rants I used to put up online when I was younger and dumber.
This is an interesting post. A year and a half ago journaling never crossed my mind. I believe a person’s experiences, decisions and circumstances shape whom they are. That being said I am (A) an Atheist (B) a man who lost my mentor and best friend the day my father died when I was fifteen. Thus, I believe I will never see him again and I am concerned the best thing in my universe, my son, may be subjected to the same situations I am. The inability to turn and ask my father what he is thinking or to share a funny story over a beer with him. I have spent many moments after my father’s passing wondering about details of his life that I never heard before. In 2007 I flew to Germany with my wife and heard my uncle tell some stories about my father’s adventures in WW2 Germany as a twelve year old boy or the challenges/laughs he experienced when he started a new life in America. I have heard these stories before as a boy; but got new value out of hearing them again as a man. Two months after my wife and I knew our child was on the way I started to write down my thoughts. I added funny stories, philosophy, milestones in my life, plans and advice. I feel there are a few people right now that will get something from this me and him, my wife or my mother if I pass on before them. The value of revisiting these moments for me is to look back on my ideas and challenges, victories and failures. Most importantly if my son ever wonders who I was he can find out even if I’m not there to tell him. I also want to note at age 98, a year before she died, my grandmother put out a story about the hardships she faced after the birth of her children. Specifically, raising them in post ww2 Germany. This was read by her grandkids that all had the same response. We will pass this to our grandkids. People have an infinite desire to know where they came from. If you could read your father or your great grandfather’s journal would you? I would, that’s motivation enough for me to write every now and then. What I tell myself is substance is what’s important. Less words more meaning.
I've always been an on again, off again type of journaler. However, I recently made a commitment to write everyday.
These days I treat my journal more as repository for self-improvement. I journal about situations or events that took place that day, how I handled them, and how I could have possibly handled them better. It helps tremendously.
Decided recently to shift from journaling per se -- my thoughts, or my events, or my problems -- to a prayer journal, that is, prayers, others' prayers, thoughts of prayers. Partly on the theory that a journal centered on something positive will be easier to maintain, and more worth rereading. Also because it's not all about me. Also because it's the main direction I want to go in now. We'll see how it goes.
Thanks for the replies so far...
I've experimented around a little bit these last few weeks and the format I've decided to go with is a narrative of the day, followed by a "sustain/improve" section of what I felt like I was effective in that day and what I should have changed. Also, when I have something weighing on my mind, I talk about that.
I've found this to be a very good way to decompress at the end of the day before I go to bed, but also a good way to vent (to myself) so that way, I don't actually have to vent to anyone. Depends on your view on "talking things through" but I'd rather not share things that bother me.
I think it an excellent idea. I do the same and use the Microsoft Onenote Notebooks. You can modify it anyway you like. I still use the 2007 version and get ideas, artistic renderings, and notes for class upon them.