As usual, one things leads to another in comment threads. Now I am curious if people actually keep journals or diaries. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that diaries are supposed to be kept private, and journals are for eventually showing to other people.

Listening to the audio book of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and there are many references to his journals. I can understand younger people starting that habit, perhaps they will be famous or something. There is no chance that I will ever be important and people will want to read my journals ten or a hundred years after I am gone, let's be honest.

So, why keep a journal?

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Bob, are you kidding me?

I have two scrapbook/photo albums that originally belonged to my grandmother, going back to the turn of (the last) century. Handwritten notations, telling me who each face belonged to. greeting cards from 80 years ago, including a hand-made valentine from my aunt to my grandmother when she was eight years old. My aunt died when she was 10 (In 1934) from spinal meningitis and obviously I never met her. But there is her handwriting on paper, providing me with a tangible link to my heritage.

What became Benjamin Franklin's autobiography was originally meant to be just for his son.

These things are treasure to me, and no doubt your journals will be treasure to one of your descendants someday also.
I picked up the habit of writing in a journal as prayer. It is pretty cool. It helps you to organize your thoughts and put them on paper and then use that as worship.

Besides using a prayer journal, I keep a journal with what I did for the day. I usually have a lot of stories going on, so I want to write them down. I know I'm not famous, but maybe one day someone would want to know what I did (probably my family). Maybe one day, I'll need them to remember what I did too. Also, your writing says a lot about what mood you are in, even if you don't realize it.

A little anecdote: A few months ago, I found a little writing that I did from about 4 years ago. It was a description of what I thought about myself at the time and who I was. There was also a list of the goals at the time. At the time, I had just broken up with my girlfriend and was not happy. When I read that note recently I was amazed at how depressed I was. It has given me a little motivation on what I DON'T want to be. Reading your old writing helps you see what you were and gives a little comparison to who you are now.
It's fairly plain to see that we're living in a historic time. While I've never been one to keep a journal, I may start one now so that my children, and their children will be able to look back and see what exactly I was thinking while all of this was going on. If you ask me, every man wants to leave a legacy of some sort. A journal is a fine way to link your decendants to their past.
Yep, I write a journal, and have been for the past four years.

My motives for writing a journal are to clear my mind, and to release all thoughts that may be perplexing, or joyful. Basically it's a record of my thoughts. It's enjoyable to look back on what I wrote several months or even years back and see the development I've been through.

From that perspective it's purely selfish and for myself alone. Also, given that life is transient and quickly passes us by, I like having a record of where I've been and what I've done.
I started getting onto the habit of writing a journal/diary/whatchamacallit after reading this blog post, Sometimes I barely write a paragraph other times it's almost an essay. I usually don't write about my day at work. If I did, it'd be a rant of the same things every day (although I do write rants every now and then about Life, the Universe, and Everything [Sorry Mr. Adams] ). This is one reason why I carry around a Field Notes book, so that I can jot some thought, observation, etc down and write about it. I write an entry down everyday. It can sometimes be useful when I'm trying to get at the root of some problem.

Do I also write out of some low-level fear that I'm not famous and more than likely will never be. That I'll be forgotten and therefore count for nothing once I've "shuffled off this mortal coil". Yep. sure. You betcha. But it's also a release of sorts from built up stress or pressure.

And when I die. All it'll take i to reformat the hard drive and all that'll be left of me is some vague memories for some people. I don't know if I'll ever show anyone my journal.
I think journal writing is a great idea in that it's a way to sort out what's going on in your life. It's also helpful to look back at issues you had in the past and see if the way you handled them got you the results you expected.

I do struggle with the idea of someone looking at my journal in the future, as much of what you're writing about involves the people who may be reading it later. It makes me censor my thoughts too much. Maybe I should have two, one for me and one for future generations.

What do you guys think?
I think the point of the journal for yours or others consumption is to see what you saw, understand your life from your perspective. I wouldn't alter a bit of it.

Think of it like your great, great grandchild would be destined to read it. You want them to know you as much as they can through it. Just my opinion.

Good luck to you.
For your family, and if you don't have much in the way of family... for yourself.

At some point in your life you will make a transition away from being able to make the memories that your journal would have been full of. The details that can become hazy with time can be kept fresh with the written word, a journal can bring things that were previously forgotten back with amazing clarity. Like the inevitable way a dream dissolves after a few hours, memories turn fuzzy with time. A journal along with a few pictures can let you or your family experience the important things that made you... you. It also gives you the ability to examine your perspective after the fact.

When it's all said and done, all you have are your memories and the memories others have of you. When you're sitting in your rocker wondering where the time went, being able to go back to those places will be worth the time it took to jot down the details. The alternative is bleak. I'd call it life insurance.
I've started and stopped writing a journal many times over the years... I can't seem to make it a habit though I love it in principle.
Agreed I wish I were more focused on this but alas life seems to get in the way or maybe laziness does probably a little of both.
I had thought about it ages ago, and tried. But it is such a difficult habit to start, especially since most people do not do it and you do not get peer support. "By jove, I must excuse myself and make some journal entries!"..."Good Heavens! I need to do that myself!"
I have Weblog entries that I wanted to delete because they were only good for a certain time (especially the pre-elections articles), but I kept them partly because of what you said, that people may want to see the historical context. Not that I have any expectation of being found in 100 years, or that will still exist. Who knows, home computers didn't exist all that long ago. Maybe I'd be better off with tried and true pen and paper. Plus the Internet while it's here.


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