8 Benefits of Writing in a Journal or Diary

Let me motivate you to continue writing in your journal, or if you haven't started yet, then let me tell you about all the wonderful blessings that will be added to your life when you start writing in your journal or diary. I hope that this article will motivate you and give you plenty of ideas-- you may not even need to use any writing prompts!

Keeping a Journal
Keeping a Journal

"I bought a small, brown looseleaf notebook, almost exactly the size of my small, brown leather-bound Bible, given to me by my parents for Christmas in 1940. These I kept together at all times. I wrote on the flyleaf of the notebook the Greek words meaning "For to me to live is Christ..." (Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity, p. 24)


The supple leather cover bends under your fingertips as you open to the first page; you inscribe your name in your own authentic scrawl. 

Beginning a new  journal is exciting. WIth nothing on the pages yet, there's no limit to the creative insights they can hold. The first few pages are easy to fill, and maybe each day is overloaded with more details, bunny trails, and fantasies than Alice in Wonderland, herself, could explore. But slowly the process loses its whimsey, and the real life has more events than the wonderland has room to record. And you are burnt out, your leather notebook is under a pile of papers or books --at least books don't have blank pages waiting for your genius to start doing its thing-- and your journal is forgotten. Not even half full.

My goal with this article is to motivate you to consistently write in your journal. I have struggled through the scenario I mentioned above, but I have also triumphed over it; and I want to help you to do so too. Below are eight reasons why I think you will benefit from consistently filling your journal, but I also really appreciate comments and ideas, or personal techniques that have proven to keep you motivated to fill pages of your own little leather notebook.

Writing in a journal regularly will improve your writing ability.
Writing in a journal regularly will improve your writing ability.

1. Your writing ability will improve. A psychological fact of life is that we fear rejection or disapproval from others, and we do better when we are not controlled by that fear. Journals and diaries are, by nature, not open to public scrutiny. Like the secret garden in Frances Hodgson Burnett's tale, your journal's front and back covers are high stone walls with a vine covered gate. This makes your little blank book a fertile ground for all the beauties of unique character that may not poke a sprout above ground in the Queen's garden, but will gladly flourish in their undiscovered hideaway. You may invent as many new words as you like, join together as many run-on sentences as suits your fancy, and fill your pages with as many excessive, flowery, pointless, pithless, extravagant adjectives as you desire. You will find that your enjoyment of writing increases, as well as your knack for it outside of your journal: for everyone loves reading a writer who loves to write a good read.


2. You will enjoy reading what you have written, even months and years later you will find yourself coming back to your filled journal. There is almost nothing so interesting --if you have written about things that interest you-- as your own journal. You are in the unique position of being able to read exactly what you would have said had you said it yourself! You are the writer who can appeal to your own sense of whimsey. You are the writer who writes what will entertain you most. You are the writer who writes a story you can relate to, for it is your own.


3. You will be able to organize frustrated thoughts and calm your outlook on life. This is especially true when your journal entry becomes a written prayer to God who rules over all circumstances. The freedom of His truth and the softening, calming influence of His lovingkindness will gradually redeem your situation and the solution will become clear. Many's the time I've gone to my journal with only a muddled head and tears ready to break the dyke; but as I write what is on my heart, God cleanses me and makes my mind and heart at rest. "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace." (1 Corinthians 14:33) Like a good conversation with an intimate friend or a restful night's sleep, writing in your journal will often have a clarifying effect on your perspective of life.

Spiritual growth can be tracked in your journal or diary.
Spiritual growth can be tracked in your journal or diary.

4. You have created a treasure that future generations will value. Yes, I know I told you that you didn't have to show your secret garden to anybody --and you still don't-- but you might change your mind about that after you watch the full-color, feature-length film recorded in your journal. These are the stories of how you have learned, grown, developed in faith and obedience to God. Are you going to keep this to yourself? What if someone could be blessed by this, and learn from your mistakes, joys, fears, trials, and triumphs? What young lady or young man wouldn't love to read their father's, mother's, or grandmother's story, told in their own words? At the very least, make a note in your will to bequeath your journal to a descendant who will cherish the story of his grandfather's life, told in his own words and from his heart. 

5. You are on the front lines as a recorder of history. Historians highly value all sources that are considered "primary" sources: letters, journals, and eye-witness accounts. When you write in a journal, you are writing an historical account that can be considered a primary authority in your field. Years from now, people will want to know what a day in the life of "you" was like, though you may consider yourself an average person with an average life. If you are in a position of high authority or have a unique occupation, that will also prove interesting to future generations who wish to research your field or area of expertise.


Samuel Pepys kept a meticulous record of the historic events in London during his lifetime.
Samuel Pepys kept a meticulous record of the historic events in London during his lifetime.

6. You are joining the ranks of beloved and famous journalers of old: Anne Frank, Benjamin Franklin, Lewis Carroll, George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Harry S. Truman, C. S. Lewis (to name only a few). Another is Samuel Pepys, who kept a meticulous diary during the monumental 1660s, including both personal anecdotes and major events in London's history . By his private pen, we now have eye-witness accounts of the Great Plague of London, the Great London Fire, as well as descriptions of business, government, church, and family life.

7. Your journal will keep you encouraged and accountable as you work to meet goals. Log the progress, pains, and pleasures of your pursuits. Come to your journal each evening with something to record, a milestone reached, a struggle battled. When a day seems desperately devilish, read back through your accounts of similar days you've gone through. If past days were full of joy, then fond memories will be triggered and you will find hope to pursue that joy again. If past days were wretched, you will be energized by what you have already conquered and will be able to look forward with new determination to succeed. "Thru many dangers, toils and snares/ I have already come/ I shall possess within the veil/ A life of joy and peace!" ("Amazing Grace" by John Newton 1779)

8. At the very least, your journal can jog your memory if you forget what happened on a certain day, or aren't certain of the details of an important conversation or event.

How can you leave that journal dusty now? Push away the vines covering the gate. Duck under the narrow stone archway. Go write.

© 2009 Jane Grey

Find inspiration for your journal, log book, or diary in the outdoors.
Find inspiration for your journal, log book, or diary in the outdoors.

More by this Author


Comments 43 comments

Callie 7 years ago

I've actually been thinking about journaling again. I may just have to start again now! Your article has inspired me!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 7 years ago from Oregon Author

That's great, Callie! Thanks for your encouragement!


NorthKelsey profile image

NorthKelsey 7 years ago from Kentucky

Great hub. I am inspired.


Rose West profile image

Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

the advice that a certain Gwendolen gave: always travel with your journal; that way you always have "something sensational to read on the train"


Mary Runser 7 years ago

Great hub. It has been a while since I have journaled, but this encourages me to begin again. Thanks.


escritor profile image

escritor 6 years ago

Hello Jane,

You commented on my Journal Writing Hub and I stopped by to visit you Hubs and profile. I really like your well developed hub on the subject. Mine was a short response resulting from my impressions after reading in the journal of Meriwether Lewis. I have always been fascinated by journals. I appreciate your hubs and will follow you in the future.

Alan


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Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Alan,

Thank you for stopping by! I appreciate your comment; I hope to read Meriwether Lewis's journal some time as well. From what you said, it sounds fascinating!


travelespresso profile image

travelespresso 6 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

Hello Jane

I love this hub! I too am an avid writer of journals. I too love to begin a new one. I often note, on the first page of a new journal, that I wonder where I will be at the end of it. I enjoy writing them to record detail, trips, how I am feeling etc. As you note, its a powerful way to clarify thoughts and issues. I'm off to join your fan club.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Hello travelespresso,

Thank you for your comments and complements! I'm sure your journals would make fascinating reads, judging from the stories you tell in your hubs. I do the same thing at the start of a journal, and often I've noticed that the "personality" of a new jounal's look, feel, smell, colors, influences my writing style during the first several entries, much like meeting a new person influences thoughts and words.

Thank you for joining my fan club! I look forward to reading about more of your travel adventures.

Jane


Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

As a young girl I kept a journal - although I called it a diary. It has been destroyed, or lost.

Since taking up with HubPages and reading so many great writers who all say a journal is necessary, I have thought about starting one. I received one for Christmas this year, so now I have no reason not to. It's just picking up the pen and starting......


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Hello Duchess,

Picking up the pen and starting can be the hardest part! That, and continuing consistently. Often a new journal is intimidating in its purity. A great way to begin is to make a list of things you are grateful for, or to jot down ideas for HubPage articles. Anything you write has endless potential for bunny trails and development, so you should be good from there! I hope your journaling brings fulfillment and blessing into your life.

Jane


brsmom68 profile image

brsmom68 6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

I have kept a journal off and on through the years. It is very good for the soul. I have suggested my son keep a journal, as a sort of release of frustrations. He underwent treatment and surgery because of Ewing's Sarcoma, and is now very limited in his abilities. Him and I have an awesome relationship, but he lives with his father so we don't get to talk anytime we want. I told him a journal would be a good thing for him to do, as no one will read it...and there are no rules in writing in one.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Brsmom68,

You are such a sweet mother. I am sure your son is very blessed to have a mom like you-- so understanding and encouraging. I hope he will write in a journal, and as he writes I hope he will analyze his thoughts and feelings and learn and grow through what God has brought him through. You're right, there are no rules but the rules that are upon every heart in our consciences and in the Word of God-- therefore a journal will do a world of good because it will allow him to hold his frustrations up to the light!

God bless you and your boy,

Jane


UlrikeGrace profile image

UlrikeGrace 6 years ago from Canada

I have journaled for years and often I find that there are times when journaling works like the tide for me. Some days it's in and somedays it's out! Thank you for the encouraging words, and the many tips to keeping ourselves motivated. Have shared this on my facebook, many people may benefit from these words as many have already. Thanks

Blessings Ulrike Grace


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, Ulrike! I appreciate you sharing this with others, and I am honored. What a clever comparison you have made-- yes, my journaling is often like the tide as well. I find that I write more when I have less opportunity to share my feelings and hopes with someone openly. When I am busy or have many close friends around, my journaling doesn't take on the same urgency.


luvmay82 6 years ago

Thank you so much! Writing in my journal has really helped me to sort out my thoughts and feelings and your article emphasizes that very same point. Now I want to continue to write even more!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Luvmay82, so glad my article helped! I was hoping it would inspire people to write in their journals and give release to thoughts.


Lu 6 years ago

I've kept a journal for 6 years, it's a lot more consisitant now than when i first started, i write a lot more about feelings aswel. I completely agree with the feeling you get when you start a new journal, which is why i have to battle with my self when i see a goregous new notebook not to start a new one til i've finished the old one.

Thanks for the inspiration to continue my journaling. :)

Lu.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon Author

Hi Lu!

Great to hear from you about your journaling practice (it really is a practice, isn't it? Always working on keeping it up and making it better). I suppose the gentle warm feeling of accomplishment when you fill up the final page of your journal should be motivation enough to finish one before you start another! However, I rarely have any time when I do not own at least two or three empty notebooks waiting for me to finish the one I'm on.

Glad you found encouragement in my article! It's always fun to hear from others like me. :)

Jane


Samantha M 5 years ago

I thought I was the only one who occasionally cracks open a new journal, vents all my frustrations for about 3 days, and never sees it again but it seems as though I am not alone. I have been going through a really hard time as I find myself, and the world around me changing so often- it is hard to keep up. I am 19 and the changes I noticed in myself from graduating High School to now has been remarkable. I really want to remember this time as I learn something new about life and myself each day so I am making a promise to myself that I will be consistent in my writing.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Hello Samantha! You are certainly not alone! I pray that as you find out more and more about yourself you also discover the God who created you and loves you more than anything! Now go fill that journal. :)


SamboRambo profile image

SamboRambo 5 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

Good ideas. I'll link to you so readers can get additional ideas and motivation.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you Sambo! I appreciate you sending readers my way. Writing in a journal can be one of the most rewarding things you do for yourself and for future generations!


kamran ali  5 years ago

s0 nicee m motivated


viveresperando profile image

viveresperando 5 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

enjoyed reading this hub!


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Great, Vive! So nice to see you come visit.


bucker98 profile image

bucker98 5 years ago

You are a blessing to people like me. I very thankful I get to know such a grown christian here on hubpages. Thanks for your hub. I'll my best to follow your example not just as a hubber but more importantly, a man of God. God bless you... :)


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, bucker98! May God be glorified by your increased devotion to Him. I'm thankful you stopped by. I, too, appreciate the strong Christian community on HubPages, standing against the world, the flesh, and the devil by proclaiming the victory of Christ over sin and death.


nannie garisha 5 years ago

I AM FASCINATED. I THOUGHT WRITING JOURNAL IS BORING, BUT NOW IT HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED.


Jill 5 years ago

I started journaling when I was ten, writing once a month until just before I turned thirteen. Those old notebooks were destroyed when my twin sister found their hiding place, but it didn't keep me from writing for long. About five months later, I bought a brown leather journal from Barnes & Noble, and have been writing consistently since. I'm almost fifteen now, and have been writing for almost two years, filling up almost three books. It has had a monumental effect on me really. It's good to be able to write it out, especially when you've just gotten in a fight with your best friend, and there's no one to call! I don't write everyday, but I can't hardly go four days without feeling like I need to write, it's like a nagging feeling. Even when my twin decided to show a few of our friends my journals, and I wanted to die of embarrassment, knowing she and my two best friends knew my every thought from almost two years, I couldn't not write. I can't wait to read up on my teenage self in fifty years, laughing (and maybe even cringing!) at all the things I thought and did.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 5 years ago from Oregon Author

Jill, your experience with journaling is much like my own! I cannot NOT write; it is engrained in the way I think, speak, and enjoy life-- I have to write about it! I want to encourage you to use your journal writing to mature in your emotions, mind, and spirit. You can be a little critical of what you write, because it will help you improve your writing and your thinking as you go! Write about things much bigger than yourself and your feelings. It's a great place to start, but every mature person knows that the world doesn't revolve around them, and neither should our journaling revolve around us! Use your journal writing to improve yourself, and to continue growing. :)

Best wishes as you continue to write! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

~Jane


Jessie 4 years ago

Thank you soo much for this encouragement. U made my day. U told me what i wanted to know which turned me into totally different perspective person. Big appreciation from MONGOLIA


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Jessie, I am so glad this helped you! Now use your journaling to seek God and cultivate a prayerful heart.

Love,

Jane


Shobhit Khinvasara 4 years ago

I don't have the patience of writing . I really regret the fact that I can't keep a stable thought by the time i finish a sentence. The biggest problem i face is that I tend to lose track of the way i started a sentence and end up repeating in the same sentence itself. I digress in a passage. I shirked from writing when i was young which is one of my biggest mistakes. I have so many creative ideas, thoughts but they just flow in and flow out. I am not able to harness them. Will diary writing solve this problem?


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Shobbit,

Diary writing can definitely help you harness your thoughts and focus on what you are writing, but it does take some mental effort to make sure that you are not going to let your thoughts wander. Choose a time of the day to write when there aren't a lot of other things that are going to distract you. Pick a place to write that is quiet and won't allow interruptions. If it helps, jot down all the things that pop into your head on a scrap piece of paper before you begin to write in your journal, so that when you finally can write, you won't feel the need to write bunny trails. I hope that helps!


barryrutherford profile image

barryrutherford 4 years ago from Queensland Australia

I usually buy a moleskin diary this year I will add a journal as you suggest. I feel sure it will help with the journey id like to be on...


subbba chocolate 4 years ago

really god ?????????????????????????????????


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Subbba,

Yes, there is really a God. How else do you think that you and I are talking with one another? Nothing comes from nothing... but we are obviously something, which cannot have come from nothing. :)


Omgigi13:) 4 years ago

lol,i am reading the seacret garden


Ruth 3 years ago

Holy hell. You have a serious way with words. I LOVE the imagery you used to describe the actual journal. Amazing. love, love, love.


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 3 years ago from Oregon Author

Thanks, Ruth! I appreciate the complement. However, I know this is just a phrase to you but to me hell is a very real place and it's nothing but holy, because God is holy, and hell is a horrible place, where God is not. I take these words seriously... :)


MDavisatTIERS profile image

MDavisatTIERS 3 years ago from Georgia

Hi. Excellent reasons to write in a journal. I started my first, AKA-the diary when I was six and struggling with bullies who made fun of me. I learned to read very young, and was moved to the fourth grade for reading when I was in first grade.

I even kept a journal during my active addiction. I've been in recovery for more than 24 years and those journals helped me see exactly what I needed to change within myself, above and beyond giving up drugs and alcohol.

Journaling was a part of the curriculum I wrote for a women's recovery home I opened in 1990. Most of the women came to value their "write time" when they could reflect, be introspective, vent and many learned the cathartic benefits of journaling.

Vote up and following


Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 3 years ago from Oregon Author

Hi MDavis, thanks for sharing your story!

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