Keeping a Journal

I don’t know how many of you do this sort of thing. I tried to keep one on several occasions in my life. The occasions were of different kinds; happy, sad, lonely, or simply introspective.

The bottom line, whenever I’d go back to reading the entries I would invariably want to vomit. The entries always seemed trivial, often whinie, mostly self-absorbed, laughably pseudo-intellectual but mostly boring. Now I sincerely hope I’m not any one of these things IRL. I just can’t stand reading my own personal ravings about myself or my thoughts du jour. Typically, I will simply tear out the pages in disgust and use the rest of the journal for grocery lists and/or work related notes. To date, not a single journal entry of mine has survived my reviews.

Somebody moderately famous once said that <para-phrasing> “One should never be so self indulgent as to actually keep a diary”. I think that I subscribe to that theory.

Anyone else?

…Having said this, I think people like Anne Frank must be excused from this position because they lived in extra-ordinary circumstances.

Perhaps that’s my trouble, I live an essencially ordinary (but happy) life.

I’ve tried to keep a journal once or twice, but invariably quit while writing the first entry for the reasons you mention.

My life is not so exciting that it needs to be preserved in print.

On the other hand, certain working-journals, if you will, are useful. For example, I (attempt to) write music, and when I get an idea I write it down. However, this has a practical purpose that I do not associate with “personal-journals” such as diaries.


I keep a journal. Having said that, I hardly ever read it. It’s just a way of letting off steam without bugging the people around me. If I were to read some of it, it would most definitely be whiny, trivial and boring. But that’s not the point of it. For me it’s not a way of remembering what I did a certain day of a certain year, but just to vent. I write so much crap in my journal, and if anyone read it, they would either stop hanging out with me or send me to an insane asylum. Besides, I keep my journal on my computer, and if I get fed up with the whole thing, and/or embarrased, I just delete it. Makes me feel powerful. :smiley:

I’m with soda on this one. A journal is more of a place to vent. In doing so in writing, I hope to alleviate the need to do it IRL and thus avoid sounding boring, whining and self absorbed to my friends.

Writing is rather a haphazard habit of mine. I usually only do it when I’m feeling “extream.” Extreamly sad or lonely or in love. Mundane days don’t make it in the book.

I used to keep a journal, until it ended up in my therapist’s hands. (I don’t remember who gave it to him.) So, from my perspective, there’s no point to have a “secret” place to write this stuff down if it’s not going to be a secret for long.


I’ve had one for about six years. I started as a place to vent without punching anyone/anything, but then I just put down my thoughts, dreams, financial woes, what was happening in the world at the time, who I had my eye on, who had just kicked me to the curb, trips I was on, new jobs, yada, yada yada. I re-read sections from time to time, and actually have never felt the urge to rip out any pages. I find it really interesting to be able to look back into my mindset years later. I will go months without an entry, then write five times in a week (I tend to write on the can or while on trips).

It shows progress. I read passages where it was like the 6th of the month and I had $3 to my name and 10 days until payday. Now it takes me until at least the 12th of the month to get down to my last $3!

Yeah, a lot of people will say that it’s the act of writing itself that contains the value of a journal.

I’m 23, so I still go back and read them because people do a great deal of growing between the ages of, say…17 and 23.

I will find out later how much people grow between the ages of 23 and 29 if I continue to write. Those years may or may not be less tumultuous, but at least I will know.

It’s just interesting to me to see the stupid things I wrote when I was 17. And the stupid things I wrote when I was 21. And the smart things I have written at 23 that I will think are stupid when i am 25.

YOu do learn a lot when you look back at yourself, and I;m also really good at remembering dates because I write them down in all my entries.

Maybe someday I will be ready to destroy all the stuff from the past I have written down and hung on to for years.

I’ve been keeping a daily journal for over 38 years. I started the day I turned 8 and I’m now 46. It helps to keep track of what I did and am doing and plan to do.

Most people don’t lead very interesting lives, but most of us try to lead good lives. Sometimes in the day-to-day we forget that. Journals help to remind us.

I kept diaries throughout junior high and high school. When I was clearing out my room to move the year after high school, I ran across them and read them. I was so embarrassed by my younger self that I destroyed them all. Now, over 20 years later, I’m still kicking myself that I lost that window into who I was at that age. I’ve sworn that I’ll never destroy any part of myself again because I’m embarrassed by who I’ve been.

Now I just need to force myself to make time to write in a journal regularly again.

I’ve been keeping a journal since I was 15; I’m 21 now. I can’t imagine not keeping a journal. Writing helps me sort out my own life; I really think I’d be completely deranged if I didn’t write everyday. I use my journal to record interesting things in my life, head-stuff, drafts of serious writing projects, and whatever else I think is interesting enough to be written down. Paging through my current journal, some sample entries include:

[li]8 pages of interesting facts about Sandhill Cranes (was working on a personal essay about them and I wanted to include some good, solid facts)[/li]
[li]various drafts of several essays[/li]
[li]various drafts of several poems[/li]
[li]impressions of people in my classes[/li]
[li]record of my physical health (been sick on and off lately)[/li]
[li]record of my mental health (have felt royally messed up lately)[/li]
[li]random childhood memories (spent 5 hours one night a few weeks ago writing down everything I could remember about my life, age 3-6, filled 42 pages. Fascinating stuff, I’m amazed at what I can remember and how it relates to my adult life. My next big project is age 6-9)[/li]
[li]silly little-girl-in-love drivel about a boy I used to work with at the library[/li]
[li]silly little-girl-in-love drivel about a girl in one of my classes.[/li]
[li]silly little-girl-in-love drivel about a different boy in one of my classes[/li]
[li]silly… well, you get the point.[/li]
[li]record of the process of some recent art-making[/li]
[li]boring daily stuff about my life[/li]
[li]bits of overheard conversation[/li]
[li]Nature stuff (weather, seasons, plants & animals seen, spiritual encounters)[/li]
[li]thoughts on posts at the SDMB[/li]
[li]recent books read, music listened too, etc.[/li]
[li]cool words & thier definitions[/li]
[li]random ideas, metaphors, etc., that I know I want to do something with eventually, I’m just not sure what.[/li][/ul]
etc. etc. etc. I find the whole record-keeping aspect aspect of it to be an invaluable resource; I can’t trust my head to hold on to everything I want to keep, but if I’ve written it down I know for sure it’s there. The personal stuff doesn’t embarrass me in the least (used to, though, when I was younger, but I got over that long ago when I realized that it was kinda pointless keeping a journal if I was going to go and censor myself.) Barring some catastrophe, I’m the only one that reads my journal, and if what is important in my life right now is scary psycho head-stuff, or sexual fantasies about people I barely know, or how sick I feel with the flu and bad menstrual cramps, well, hell, I’m gonna write it down. It’s theraputic. If you’re the only one that sees it, how can you embarrass yourself?