So You Want to Keep a Journal?


“Because God is a writer, it is only natural that we, created in His image, are writers also.”

Lynn D. Morrissey

I hear it often when the conversation turns to writing or journal keeping.

“I wish I had more time to write.”

or, “I’ve tried keeping a journal before but stopped.”

Another common concern is privacy. Revealing your heart’s condition and committing it to paper can be a scary proposition. The possibility that someone else might see something that you did not want to share can hinder the beautiful freedom that journal keeping can offer

So, whether you have never kept a journal before or are an on again off again journaler, I want to offer a few tips to help you find the time to squeeze journaling in and  to keep journaling on. I also want to urge you to find the journal keeping endeavor that suits this season of your life and allows the habit to continue for the long term, so that the benefits and blessings will be experienced in time, thus reaffirming the commitment to write for the simple, personal joy experienced by the journal keeper.

First there are a number of different ways to keep your journal, and the journal itself is a highly adaptable tool to utilize in your faith journey.

Consider the season of your life. When my daughter was small, my journal entries often drifted off literally, mid-sentence. I would plop down exhausted after a day of chasing down my tiny tot, only to discover that sleep was all that I could muster. I often would find pen markings in my sheets from falling asleep with an open pen! During that season of inconsistent writing, I would faithfully put my journal in the bottom of the stroller and head out for an afternoon walk. If I was lucky, and she had had enough activity earlier, she would drift off into a sweet sleep and I would find my way to a park bench, journal and Bible by my side for a few quiet moments. Often God would multiply the time and bless me with insights that I enjoy looking back on now. Sometimes I would bring a favorite devotional.

Carry your Journal wherever you go. I am not sure when it was that I started to do this, but I continue to do this most always. I am rarely without my journal. One never knows when an idea, inspirational thought, poem, or word from the Lord might come. If you carry a small journal in your purse when that moment comes, you will be ready to scribble it down.

Kiss it OR Keep it simple. The best way to start a new habit or get back on track with a habit you want to keep up, is to keep it simple. There are a few ways you can make it happen. Identify how and why you want to journal. Are you wanting to take word pictures to look back on in the days ahead, maybe reflect about the inner workings of your heart or  maybe you want to count your blessings, or Gifts aka Ann Voskamp style. Well, keeping it simple will be different for different people, but how about considering the following  possibilities for writing in your journal: one day a week, just 5 minutes a day, 15-30 minutes every other day, before bed writing just 5 Gifts, a few blessings or thanksgivings before you shut the light, daily morning paragraph prayer, evening summary of the day, or even collecting one quote a day that is meaningful to you each day. Phew! That’s a lot of keeping it simple options. A small daily commitment to your journal will keep the words flowing, and feel less intimidating when faced with the blank page.

Keep it private, but accept the possibility of exposure. You could go to extreme measure to secure the privacy of your journal. But it is better to make peace with the possibility being exposed. Either keep your journals in an off limits place or begin to embrace the reality – as I have- that there is nothing that will not be revealed ultimately in eternity. However, I understand that as we share, we need to have some level of trust that we are able to safely lay our hearts on the table, or paper as the case may be. Pray and ask God for wisdom. He will give you peace and freedom to write freely. In my home it is an understanding that journals are private. But I do keep many of them in a closet out of sight, trusting that my privacy is respected.

 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” Matthew 10:26

The benefits of journaling have been well documented but I can personally testify to the blessing it has been in my life. So, you want to keep a journal? Well, then start today!


2 Responses to So You Want to Keep a Journal?
  1. Susie Klein
    June 20, 2014 | 11:11 pm

    Dawn Dawn Dawn, this is SO GOOD! Every point is so true and truly helpful rather than giving people a heavy list of “shoulds”. My other writing has taken over my journal habit, which I never thought could happen. But this post inspires me to get back to it during this interesting time in my life! Susie

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey
    June 22, 2014 | 4:47 pm

    Well, Dawn, what a delightful surprise to see myself quoted at the outset of your article! Honestly, it is a quote I really wanted in my book, b/c I think that sometimes people can feel intimidated by the blank page. But knowing that God is a writer, and that we are created in His image, and therefore have the inherent gift of writing, should not only help put us at ease, but encourage us in emulating our Creator through writing. We see over and over again in Scripture how God tells people to write and the many benefits that come through it. I love here how you are making it simple and accessible. That’s why I advocate writing what I call “love letters” to God so that what I write is conversational in tone and addressed to a real person, and in this case, the Person is God! But to think of journaling in this way really freed me, because I began to write in my own words and my own way and about anything that was on my mind. True love expresses all feelings, so my journals are not ooey-gooey sacchirine outpourings (though certainly I express love for God), but rather the honest and often emotionally raw feelings of my heart. Thank you for this twenty-one-day journal adventure that you have so capably, compassionately, and courageously led. It has been breathtaking!
    Joyful Journaling!