Five Reasons to Keep a Journal

By Ali Luke

March 13, 2011   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

If you’ve been reading Dumb Little Man for a while, you might have figured out that I’m a writer. I love words. I write for a living – and it’s a childhood dream come true for me.

Now, you might not be a writer. In fact, for all I know, you hate writing.

I’m going to suggest that you think about keeping a journal, all the same. Why? Because journals have a bunch of awesome benefits – not just now, but in the future.

  1. Track Your Progress
    If you’re heading towards any sort of long-term goal, a simple journal can be a very powerful tool. In it, you can track your progress day by day and week by week. It might not seem like much at first – but pretty quickly, you’ll find that you can flip back to previous weeks and see how you’ve improved.

The very act of recording something often helps you to be motivated to do it, too! This works really well for exercise programs, diets, reading plans, studying…

  • Explore Your Thoughts
    When I’m feeling upset or anxious, journaling almost always helps. It gives me a space to spill out what I really think, and often seeing it in black and white gives me a sense of perspective! 

Many people find that writing about problems is actually more helpful than speaking about them. (Richard Wiseman’s book 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot goes into detail on this, if you’re interested.)

  • Record Your Life
    One day, your journal could be a very interesting historical document – for you, for your family, and potentially for a wider audience. Obviously, you might not want anyone to ever read the journal itself, but by recording details of your life, you’ll have them for future reference. 

Your memory will fade over time, and things which seem perfectly normal and commonplace now might be fascinating to your grandchildren. With technology changing especially rapidly, the world of the early 21st century might seem almost unrecognizable in a few decades. A journal can keep these memories alive.

  • Become More Self-Aware
    If you keep a journal regularly over a period of time, you’re going to become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings – and perhaps your failings. You’ll spot patterns, both positive and negative ones. 

Few of us take time on a daily or weekly basis to step out of the busy moment-by-moment flow of our lives. But this higher-level reflection can be incredibly important, even life-changing. A few sessions writing in your journal could lead to a breakthrough that gets you to change careers, get fit, or turn your life around.

  • Improve Your Writing
    Finally, keeping a journal will almost certainly help you to become a better writer. This might not be a benefit that you’re necessarily looking for – but almost all of us have to write in some context (perhaps emails or reports at work). 

Regularly journaling helps you get into the habit of writing, so that it seems like less of a chore. It can also help you to express yourself in different ways through words – perhaps you might write a poem in your journal, or deliberately try to expand your vocabulary.

If you currently keep a journal, or have kept one in the past, what benefits has journaling brought you? And if you’ve never kept a journal before, what’s stopping you from giving it a

Written on 3/14/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Photo Credit: puuikibeach0
Ali Luke

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