Five Easy Ways to Keep a Journal to Tell Your Story

When I was a little girl, and later as a teen I sporadically wrote in my diary. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Mine was yellow, with flowers and a little girl on the front cover, and had a lock. I lost the keys, (it came with two) but figured out how to lock and unlock it with a bobby pin. I poured my heart out in the pages of my little diary, griping about how mean my dad was, and the “hunks” and “foxes” I was apparently madly in love with. I found that diary later, and let me tell you, it was as embarrassing as it sounds! The act of keeping a diary served a purpose though, it was a safe space to pour out my heart, and daydream a little.

Keeping a Journal
My high school diary!

Now, my mom was a writer. She loved to write poetry and even wrote her own memoires. My brothers and I have copies of those writings and they’re truly a treasure, because they tell the history of her family – stories we never really heard, and were probably too busy to be bothered with when we were growing up. But she also journaled, and after she was gone, my brothers and I found her journals and began reading. And it was like getting to know someone we never really knew. Those journals are treasures to us. Some pages are filled with mundane, daily events, like going to work at the laundromat, the people she knew, cleaning the machines, and mopping the floors. Her journals reveal the absolute joy and excitement she felt waiting for my brothers to return home from college, as she prepared their favorite meal (spaghetti) and did tons of laundry and revelled in the noise and busy-ness of having them home. She shared her love of Christmas and the planning and care she took with her Christmas gifting. Keeping a journal. Journaling. Journals

I still pull out Mom’s journals from time to time. I hear her voice when I read those pages, and I hear her laugh and feel her love. It enforces my opinion that it’s so important to share your unfiltered story with your family. In this age of Instagram filters and Snapchat posts that disappear, we’re losing this ability to leave a tangible, truthful message for our families. Think about it, in two generations, you will be forgotten. Like vapor, blowing away into eternity. Your great grandchildren will likely have little knowledge of who you are or what your life was like. Keeping a journal is a special way to leave a little piece of yourself for your kids and grandkids, and it’s also good for your mental health!

Find a schedule to write in your journal that works for you.

  • If you’re a morning person: Write in your journal while you’re drinking your morning coffee. If you do a daily devotion, it’s the perfect time! Pen what your devotional meant to you that morning, and share how you can use what God shared with you. Make sure to write a few details about your upcoming day.
  • If you’re an evening person: Write in your journal before you go to bed each night. Share a few highlights of your day. Even if you think it’s not exciting, share it anyway!

Tell the truth

Don’t use that pretty filter! Be sure to tell the absolute truth in the pages of your journal. Be honest as you share the good, the bad and the ugly. Just keep in mind that those pages will be read and shared after you’re gone, so make sure you don’t mind someone seeing what you’re writing down. Did the water heater decide to pour water all over your house? Did little mice move into your attic this winter? Did your computer freak out at work today making you lose everything you were working on? Life’s not perfect y’all! Be real!

Use the ‘Five W’s’

Who, what, when, where, why. Who were you with? What did you do? When did it happen? Where were you? Why were you there? Those little rules will help you flesh out your storytelling on the pages of your journal. It will also help your kids and grandkids know who your friends were, what your life was like and how you filled your days.

Find journaling supplies that you enjoy using

Hit up Etsy and Amazon and find a pretty journal and good quality pens. Don’t worry about getting fancy with stickers and stamps (unless you really want to). The purpose of this kind of journaling is to tell your story. A journal can be something as simple as a notebook, or fancy as a beautifully bound book. My mom used several different styles of books to journal in, she even used a daily ledger one year! (Do they even still make those?)

Don’t stress out over it!

The purpose of this activity isn’t to add one more thing to your life, but to enhance it. I think when you write down your thoughts, feelings and daily happenings of your ordinary life, you’ll see how truly blessed you are. Journals, planners, Bible journals, scrapbooks – there are so many ways to tell your story and leave behind a little piece of yourself for your family. Try the one that feels like you.

I hope I’ve inspired YOU to start a journal to tell YOUR own special story. Do you already journal? Share any tips you might have! Thank you for reading. I so appreciate you taking the time to stop by!


18 thoughts on “Five Easy Ways to Keep a Journal to Tell Your Story

  1. I have really been thinking about journalling lately and you have made my mind up for me. Wonderful article!

  2. I had a blue Holly Hobby journal as a kid, so I had to read your article! You’ve inspired me to get back into writing in a paper journal again. I’ve been using an app that uses pictures, and it’s just not the same. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  3. I have been trying to pick up journaling but it has been a constant challenge. I am going to try some of these tips to see if I can stick with it. I really think that it takes a lot of focus but once I get into a routine it will be easier!

  4. I love to journal but I find myself only journaling when I am having tough times and use my journal to cry out to God OR when I am having great times and thanking God. But I really love your post. It brings a new perspective to journaling. A memoir of sorts to those who read it in years to come after I am gone. How much things cost; how much I love fashion and organization; how much I love Christmas and what my favorite gifts to give consisted of; doting over my kids and my husband. I love it! Thank you for the encouragement. Great post!

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