I was lucky enough, last year, to stumble across a similar article to how this one will probably be, about personal journals. Now, before you think they are stupid and naturally associate personal journals as something only "arty" people do, or something Little Suzie from Year 2 does about the boys she likes in her class, let me dispel this myth right now with a quote that stuck with me, at the point where I was thinking the same (paraphrasing):
Writing your own personal journal is probably one of the best things you will ever do for yourself... ever.
Now, you may have missed the key part of that quote: YOU will do FOR YOURSELF. This is the case because of something that journals automatically do and rely heavily upon: It is about you and for you. Your journal is something you do not share, or, more importantly, do not write for the intention of sharing, which allows you to be completely honest and bare yourself to it. There are no rules and regulations- you can write as much or as very little as you want, as frequently as you would like, in whatever style you want.
In dispelling the personal journal myth, this also means I have to explain that keeping a personal journal can benefit absolutely anyone- you do not need to be mentally ill, or clinically depressed, or a genius script writer. In fact you don't have to be anything in particular at all. You can be a local marketing executive, a shop attendant, a study studying economics, a plumber, etc. The point is, you do not have to start a diary for any specific reason, and it will benefit anyone, if you actually take it seriously and decide to give it a good go.
There is nothing quite like it.
I have been keeping a journal for over a year now and I was convinced that after a week I would have stopped or grown bored. However I still write a small entry every few days about what I have been up to, my personal achievements, people I had met, interesting situations, emotions I felt- anything really (again, no rules). There is nothing quite like seeing your thoughts on a page to help yourself vent and express your views as you feel them at the time. However, there is an added bonus with this: everyone knows that each passing year goes by faster and faster, to the point where everything becomes a crazy blur. I have found it incredibly useful flipping back on my entries months ago and gaining so much perceptive on not only myself, but seeing the bigger picture and realising how much I had actually achieved between then and now. It is quite surreal seeing an entry from months ago where I had written, for example, "I wonder if this risk will pan out?" and then thinking now about it and realising how much that risk had consumed my thoughts at that point. You can easily witness the amount of diversity you yourself experience on a daily basis from the language you have used, the appearance of your handwriting, the topics you focus on, etc.
What does it offer you?
A personal journal allows you to learn and express so much about yourself so easily; something that unfortunately gets so easily missed as the uncaptured seconds pass by in an instant, especially with our busy lives today. Keeping a diary is a way you can personally grow and it is just so simple. Reading over your unedited thoughts in the present as you write, and in the future looking back it extremely rewarding but, unfortunately, you can only experience these benefits after you pick up a pen and start it. I hope that this article convinces you to at least give it a go and see for yourself.
Just picture yourself in a few years from now with years of memories actually written in a library of journals that detail how you go over a close relative's death, how you achieved that goal, how you were feeling when that big event occurred, what your new year's resolutions were, how you met the person of your dreams, a song lyric you liked... It takes such little time, and the rewards and benefits of a personal journal are so large in comparison. You will start to discover yourself in ways that only a journal could provide. As per the quote at the start: writing your own personal journal is probably one of the best things you will ever do for yourself... ever.
A few tricks to motivate you to write a personal journal are as follows:
(1) Buy a Really Nice Journal That Matches Your Personality.
It can be anything you want, but I would advise not to just buy a plain $2 pad from the closest shop. Buy something a little nicer that you will look forward to writing in. I bought leather bound, hand stitched, cotton paged journals from ebay which were just so cool.
(2) Write Fast
This will ensure you do not edit or filter yourself. You do not want a fake journal unless you are trying to write a fiction novel!
(3) Write Only For You
Do not write with the intention of others reading it. Keep it hidden and do not share it with anyone. This will allow you to get the most out of the journal as you are writing to you and therefore can trust yourself to be as honest as you care to be.
(4) Keep It With You
This means it is safe and secure, plus you have it at all times to share anything you want with it.
(5) Occasionally Look Back On Previous Entries
This will show you how much you've changed and achieved over time. Trust me, you'll appreciate the motivation and nostalgia you get from this.
(6) Do Not Make It A Chore
Journal entries are best when they are not scheduled or obligatory. When you feel the need to record something, open it up. Do not set deadlines as it feels too much like school or work and you will find it annoying.
(7) No Rules
If you want to stick quotes in, type it up and print it out, use different colours, draw... do what you want. I had this problem initially, when I kept thinking "Chris, you have to write this particular way always" and that is rubbish. Free yourself of all your business rules and just express yourself however and whenever you please.
(8) Date and Time Each Entry
This just allows you to easily keep track of events and entries
(9) Buy Nice Pens to Use in the Journal
This ties in with the first point. Anything that makes you motivated to write, go for it. I liked using the felt tipped pens as they looked awesome on the cotton pages of the journals I buy.
(10) Have Faith In The Journal
Do not think EVER a journal is silly or not worth it. I guarantee that after you start, you will enjoy filling the pages, and soon you will find that you really look forward to writing a new entry, regardless of the type of person you are.
All the very best and happy writing!