Do you keep a diary? Do you journal? Is there a difference?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
Let’s wind the clock back…back to Christmas Day 1981. Amongst many other gifts (none of which I can remember now) I was given a 5-year diary. It was white with a picture of a Holly Hobbie style doll on front and had a gold lock. I said that I was going to start keeping a daily diary and immediately got one of those looks from my mother. One of those looks that said, “Here she goes again. She won’t last until the end of the first week in January.”
Several…ok many…5-year diaries later I still keep a daily diary in a 5-year diary. I also still have them all including that first wee white one that I began when I was 11 years old.
And like Oscar Wilde, I never travel without out it.
(Another tradition that started on Boxing Day 1981 is that I write out all the dates/days for the coming year on Boxing Day)
I also journal and, in my mind, apart from physically being to separate things, they serve two separate purposes.
My diary is a short summary of my day. No, I’m not sharing any live examples here.
My journal is an ad hoc rambling outpouring of thoughts and feelings and I’m certainly not sharing those here!
Both are things that I keep intensely private and always have done.
There are pros and cons to keeping both.
Year one in a 5-year diary is easy. You have a blank canvas in front of you. Subsequent years can get more difficult as you naturally re-read the entries above each day from previous years If it’s been a tough time then that can stir up some dust bunnies of emotion; if it’s been a memorable day for all the right reason then it can stir up the fire flies of bright happy moments.
Journaling is a bit the same for me.
There are no hard and fast rules for doing either. After all, these are your personal thoughts and feelings.
Journaling in my case is more of an exercise in emotional release. I can write out all the things I feel I can’t or won’t say out load. I can vent about my frustrations with life without offending anyone. I can confide my innermost feelings without being judged or patronised.
I’ve filled journals where I’ve used the pages in a random order; I’ve had journals where I’ve started at the front and filled page after page until the notebook is full.
Unlike my diary, I seldom re-read them. I journal to get things out of my system.
Journaling can be an extremely emotional journey. It can be hard if you are admitting to a fear to see it written in black and white on the page in front of you. The very words, previously unspoken, suddenly become very real and are harder to ignore. However, journaling can be a powerful tool to help you process thoughts and to help you to deal with the some of the difficult emotions and situations we experience as humans.
A journal doesn’t criticise so in that aspect alone it can make an ideal confidante.
Bottling feelings up isn’t good for any of us so a diary or a journal can be the perfect conduit to releasing and processing those pent-up feelings. Journaling can be good for us both physically and mentally.
Before starting to write this blog post, I did some research into journaling, looking at the meanings, the benefits, the varying techniques you can use but I quickly abandoned that train of thought. I’m not for a second saying that there isn’t valid information out there to support journaling beginners. I’m just personally not in favour of such a structured approach e.g. bullet journaling. As I do with my creative writing, I prefer to go with the flow.
So, if like many of us, you’re maybe needing to approach life in 2020 a little differently, try journaling. You might surprise yourself.