December 8, 2009

The Art of Journal Writing


If you’re like most people, you spend a good amount of time thinking to yourself everyday. I use to do it all the time, especially when I worked in a cubicle. I would constantly sit at my desk and let my brain work itself into overdrive about all sorts of different things.

I would brainstorm ideas on how to make money, think about the dreams I had the night before, and even spend time daydreaming about a life that was more enjoyable.

However, I would always fail to make anything of the thoughts. Instead, I would let them drift away and constantly forget the ideas I had.

The Solution: Keeping A Journal

Ever since high school, I’ve been a fan of writing down my thoughts and ideas. However, I was never good at keeping it consistent. I would always write a few entries in a notebook, only to set it aside and never look at it again. Months would go by before I would remember to write down my thoughts. Not exactly a good system.

Luckily, I’ve had a lot of free time lately and I’ve managed to come up with a journal system that has been working for me on a consistent basis. So far, it’s been an amazing tool and has helped me in more ways than I anticipated. It’s helped me:

  • Clear My Mind
  • Keep Track Of My Thoughts
  • Act On My Ideas

And these are just a few of the benefits of journal writing.

My Journal Strategy

Maintaining a journal does take some work, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. I’ve made it a nightly routine to write in my journal right before I lay down to read. I also jot down my dreams right after I wake up in the morning. It’s actually a relaxing time for me and helps me keep my head clear throughout the day.

I keep a handful of different journals because it makes it easier to search them, as well as keep them organized. Here’s a breakdown of the journals I keep on a daily basis:

Idea Journal:

My idea journal is a simple dumping ground for any ideas I have. If I come up with an idea for a blog post, I’ll add a new entry and start typing it up right in my journal.

There is no limit on what I will put in this journal. Sometimes my ideas are short phrases that I need to write down otherwise I would totally forget them.

Personal Journal:

For the most part, my personal journal is a diary of all the things I do on a daily basis. It’s a mix of stories and thoughts that all intertwine to make up my life. I tend to write down a lot of my thoughts because it makes it a lot easier for me to go to sleep when I have a clear head. I can also go back and look at what I was thinking at any point in time.

Who knows, someday when I get old I might actually enjoy reading my thoughts from when I was younger. If anything, it’s a good way to track your progress over time.

Money Journal:

The spending journal is something new that I’ve implemented recently. I create a new entry for each day and put in how much I spent on that day. I make sure to jot down the exact values. I also put a note by each value so I know what it was for.

I also add in any income I make each day and put down where it came from and what for. If I want, I can then add up all the totals and see a breakdown of my monthly spending. I haven’t perfected this strategy yet but hope it works out for the best.

If you’re wondering where I got the idea from, check out the book: “Your Money Or Your Life.” It’s a great book about the true meaning of money and how you can achieve financial independence.

Paper Or Digital?

Once you have a good strategy, you then have to decide where to keep your journal. Would you prefer writing in a notebook or do you like the idea of typing up your journal entries?

I started out writing in a notebook, but have since made the jump to using my computer. Why?

It’s Cheaper:

At some point, your notebook will be filled with entires and you will have to go out and buy another one. If you actually invest in a decent journal, you’ll easily drop at least 10 bucks.

It’s Better For The Environment:

I consider myself pretty green and I always do my best to avoid waste. It’s amazing how much paper we actually consume, especially when we don’t have to. By moving your journals to your computer, you save a ton of paper and never have to worry about running out of pages.

It’s Easier:

Like I mentioned above, I actually keep a few different journals, which would require a couple different notebooks. By using my computer, I can easily make different journals and assign entries to specific journals. Best of all, I can even search them later on when I was to find a specific entry. And last but not least, my wrist no longer hurts from trying to write two pages worth of thoughts.

So there’s a few good reasons to make the switch. If you prefer paper, that’s cool too. I just hate writing in notebooks, mostly because I’m left-handed and it just doesn’t work right. Plus I like to save space when possible.

The software I use is called MacJournal. It’s a great piece of software and it even lets you record audio and video in your entries.

Give It A Try

I highly recommend that you try and keep a journal. Not only does it help you clear your mind and retain your thoughts, but it’s also a relaxing experience. Plus it’s a good habit to form and something you can do for the rest of your life.

You’ll most likely have to modify the strategy to fit your needs but it’s all part of the process. Eventually you will come up with a system that works perfectly for you.

Do you keep a journal?

Photo Credit: House of Sims | CC

5 thoughts on “The Art of Journal Writing

  1. Jim Gaudet

    Lucid dreaming, I love it. The first time I flew was the best and now I am pretty good at controlling my dreams. It helps that there is one dream that keeps returning, so I know it is a dream from the start!

    I have been trying forever to keep a journal, I think I am going to create a simple form on my website to add to the journal. Just a square box with a submit button. After a while I bet some crazy things will be found in that DB..

    Good luck,

  2. funny song parodies

    Alright. I am really loving your post. They are very relatable. I know i would start a journal and then be good for a little while. Then I would stop. Then a couple of months later i would pick it up and repeat the process. . Now I have started recoring little journal entries on my mp3 player. luckily it has a recording feature. so i talk until i am all out of things to say. I do this weekly now.

    I still might take into consideration what you said about the journals. Thanks for sharing again.

    P.S. I so relate to the hands getting tired of writing after two pages in a notebook. lol

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  4. Pingback: MacJournal Review

  5. Karie Brammer

    I loved your webpage! You should write a book and publish it! Something like this “Life: Simplified”.
    I am researching study material and I found your page to be the most helpful and informative. Thank you so much!

    P.S. Also, a big fan of Journal keeping and per your suggestions, I wondered why I hadn’t done that sooner!


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