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Should I Keep a Journal?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Keeping a journal, if you enjoy writing, can be an excellent way to keep your writing chops in shape. It can also be a means for working out new ideas, chronicling interesting events in your life, or making personal observations that help you develop emotionally. Looking over past work in your journal can help you spot patterns in your thinking that are either destructive or beneficial, and can give you a sense of accomplishment about things you have achieved in the past, boosting your confidence for future endeavors.

There are many other reasons why keeping a journal can be a useful thing. Maintaining a journal is often an excellent means to analyze behavior you want to change. In fact, in certain schools of psychology, like Jungian Analysis and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, journaling is often recommended. People who suffer from depression, bipolar, or anxiety disorder are often helped by journaling.

Journaling can be a way of diffusing these emotions during periods of extreme emotion. Further, reading how you handled past negative or difficult emotions can help you realize that you are only temporarily swamped with difficult times. A journal can reinforce that strong negative emotional states do pass with time.

Some people keep a journal to write down ideas as they come up, especially if they are writers. They might jot down ideas for stories, short poems, or anything that could inspire future writing. Keeping a journal in this manner is often a preventative for the writer’s block that can plague writers. If you sit down to write and are uninspired, a look into past journal entries can help you get going on a new idea, story, or poem.

Keeping a journal can also help those who have difficulty remembering events. If you make new friends or hear a good joke, the journal can be the place to record these details. This can help ease embarrassment and keep you remembering the names of new friends or the punch line. It can also help to write down important dates to remember if your memory is not the best, or important things about other people you’d like to remember, like the fact that your new mother-in-law’s favorite flower is the Easter Lily.

One of the interesting modern methods of keeping a journal is through websites and blog sites like MySpace. These can be terrific ways to keep your thoughts in order or simply write about your thoughts and feelings. They can be a bit more intimidating than a simple blank book and need to be used with a little more caution. You may not want people to read all the intimate details of your life, for privacy or security reasons. A personal journal does not get offended with you if you’re angry with a friend, but the friend who reads your blog about this anger very well might. Therefore, you might want to keep a private journal on reserve to let flow with your angry or unreasonable thoughts, and cultivate more careful writing in your blog entries.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon348182 — On Sep 14, 2013

I have recently been thinking about starting a journal. Maybe because I've been emotionally/socially ill,but also for the future. So when I get old I can remember and relive the things I did when I was young. The thing is, I am very worried someone will find it. I want it to be very personal with ideas, mini stories and adventurous times of my life. Vlogging can't compare to it, or even a blog. I think it's because I don't have a best friend or someone to rely on to speak to about this, when I am not as strong as am usually am. Therefore,I keep everything bottled up, and i think a journal/dairy can solve my problems.

By anon184523 — On Jun 08, 2011

Journaling is so powerful, and my life is a testament to that.

By anon14994 — On Jun 28, 2008

You can create a private blog that can only be seen by you. Cheers

By anon602 — On Apr 29, 2007

I've been looking for an online tool that supports "real" private journaling - rather than kind of blogging thing.

Has anyone tried it? I'd love to hear your impressions of it.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor,...
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