As someone who writes for a living, and I don’t mean as a job or occupation, just to survive another day, I take offense to people who ask why they would want to keep a journal. They say, “It’s just my thoughts written down.” My answer to them is this: your own written word holds far greater weight to you than anyone else’s because you have taken the time to write your words down, organize them in your mind, and detoxify your cognitive base, wherever that may be in your head, all in either a matter of minutes or a few hours. Now, whether your journals are ever read by another pair of eyes is one thing versus your being the only one to read your own precious journals. Let’s discuss what I call the “sound of journaling.”
There are different ways in the sound of journaling. All sorts of ways to keep a journal exists. You can do a stream of consciousness, where you just let go of all your thoughts in random succession; no order required, or you can be the thoughtful type with the same law and order that your grade school English teacher taught you as far as writing in paragraphs, with topic sentences, supporting details, and conclusions to each paragraph.
Personally, I love stream of consciousness to harbor my own sound of journaling. If you don’t know what that is, just read William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, and you’ll find in every chapter, a major character’s interior monologue as just that, a stream of thoughts that winds and unwinds like a beautiful ribbon where both sides of it are revealed, through a use of vocabulary specific to the character as well as a thought process.
What is your natural sound of journaling? Now, sometimes you may write some things with such wispy resonance that you might want to delve deeper into these subjects or topics or sub topics, such as foods that you love or hate or not liking the way you were treated at a store the other day. Then there are the journal entries that are just pure feeling; for example, you may write about an old boyfriend or girlfriend or about a chronic health issue that has come up. How does your sound of journaling sound like to you?
So, what do you do if you have zero inclination to write? You may want to find a purpose. You should keep that food diary or vitamin diary or fitness diary. These are concrete places to start if the thought of writing your own thoughts doesn’t appeal to you. For instance, in counting calories for a food diary, you may start out recording the calories, but then you realize that there’s a story behind the calories.
How were you feeling when you chose this particular food to eat? Why did you choose this food? Why didn’t you change your menu according to your mood? What does this say about you? Your rigidness or your dedication to your meal preparation or going out to eat? How would you characterize your entire day based on the food that you have ingested? How do you feel daily? These questions can be used to expand your entry, if you do not feel inclined to write about the subject matter.
Now, to get to the therapeutic level of journal writing, it transcends any blood level test that you might have to take periodically that your doctor orders. The astounding thing about it is that you don’t ever have to read what you just wrote, so on the one hand, your journal is like one of those yellow National Geographic magazines sitting in your garage or atop the bookshelf in your den, prized possessions because of the captivating photography and article writing, which you want to keep for dear life, unlike the throwaway People or Us magazines, but your journal is also throwaway-able, too, as you could opt out on reading them, or for dramatic effect, you could burn them.
Burning your thoughts is a ceremonial goodbye to the past, and, see, you wouldn’t be able to do it unless you hadn’t written them down. So, why not, give it a try. The act of writing and then ridding yourself of it must be liberating to some degree. A fine woman comes to mind when I write this. She said she couldn’t read her journals because they were too depressing. What better way to lift yourself from the mire than to not read one word of your journals? Or, better yet, just read them aloud once, and then put the lit match to the paper, and viola, instantly, therapy done. The sound of journaling has been read aloud and in your honor!
The counter claim to not reading your journals is this: there is food for thought in everything that you write, potential fields of gold. These are your figurative National Geographic magazines, known better for their pristine photography rather than their articles.
And this is how I think a journal should read; you should glide through it without heed to the words but for the imagery and the feelings they convey. Smooth writing that contain those nuggets of wisdom and stories worth pondering on for years to come. Thus the sound of journaling.
Read 5 Ways Journaling Enrich Your Life.
Here’s my bio: Grace May is a sometime community college teacher and online tutor. She loves to write when the mood fits.