In my last blog, Benefits of Keeping a Journal, I listed five great reasons everyone should keep a journal. Once you’ve decided to take the leap, your next decision is which method to use.
There are plenty of choices. Since everyone is different, you’ll need to explore all the options to find the right one for you. Basically there are three ways to keep a journal:
A Paper Journal
I’m a creature of habit and a paper diary or journal is the way I’ve been penning my thoughts, feelings and ideas for over 40 years. To me, nothing beats putting pen to paper. I enjoy the luxurious feeling of sitting down in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee to quietly reflect on my thoughts and document them. Plus, a paper journal can easily be packed to take along on trips, personalized with drawings, tickets, and other mementos, and never needs electricity.
Go to any store, and you’ll see all the beautiful journals available today. Of course, journaling is not all about fancy books but about tapping into your thoughts and feelings and then expressing them on paper. That being said, for some people, a pretty journal is part of the sensory experience and helps motivate them to write. Others prefer notebooks with unlined paper so they can sketch and doodle alongside their writings. Some journals even include inspirational quotes and writing prompts to help get you started. Find whatever works best for you.
The downside of recording your thoughts on paper is that you won’t have any backups in case your journal is lost or destroyed. In addition, privacy can be an issue. As a teen, I kept changing hiding places, but still my parents, siblings, boyfriend, and friends all loved to read my diaries. That may be part of the reason I decided to become a writer. Heck, if everyone wanted to read about my life, thoughts, and feelings, why shouldn’t I get paid for it? Anyhow, even with these risks, I’m still a pen and paper girl.
An Online Journal
If you’re addicted to your phone, iPad, or laptop, you may choose to keep your journal in electronic form. One of the advantages of e-journaling is that typing is faster and easier. If you have really bad handwriting, an online journal can also be easier to read later.
If you take the proper precautions and password protect your computer-based journal, online journaling can give you a level of security and privacy that paper journals can’t offer. And if you’re a blogger like me, one big advantage is that journal entries can be uploaded directly into your blog without any additional cutting, pasting, or formatting.
Options abound for online journaling. You may choose to use a word processor or notepad application and keep an encrypted text file in Dropbox. Or you could use one of the many apps and web services available that offer privacy and portability. Penzu is a popular password-protected online private journaling tool. This app allows you to search past entries, add photos, and customize the layout of your journal. Day One and RedNotebook are two other popular journaling tools.
Of course, now there’s tweeting, blogging, and Facebook, but as I mentioned before, I’m a big fan of the old-fashioned journal. If you use these public platforms as a journal you will not only sacrifice your privacy but also lose your freedom to fully express your feelings without worrying about what others think. Plus, you’ll be doing a lot of self-editing which interferes with the free flow of your creative thoughts.
However, I know this is the preferred route for many whom like an audience and enjoy getting their thoughts and feelings out into the open. A wide variety of tools and hosts are available, both free and paid. For my purposes, WordPress has been a great platform for my blog. Blogger, Livejournal, Medium, Squarespace, and Tumblr, Google+ are some of the other options – there are plenty more.
If you choose to express your thoughts and feelings in a blog, perhaps you can keep a separate private journal where you can express your deepest thoughts without fear of judgment or need of justification. Or you could set up a private blog or private Twitter account.
However you choose to keep a journal, you won’t regret it. In my next blog, the third and final part of this series, I’ll supply some ideas to help you make the most of your journal and some inspiration to keep you writing.