A really serious article with three reasons not to journal

by Sara Marchessault

Are you a journal writer? Do you think about how keeping a journal might make a difference in your life?

I have been keeping journals for over twenty years and I know, without a doubt, that the habit of writing in my special blank books has contributed hugely to the person I am today.

Fo sho’.

However there is a trade-off, as there is with all life experiences.

Popsicles on a hot day result in cool delicious-ness…and maybe a streak of bright red on your favorite shorts – right? These boots

Journaling too can have consequences. Here are a few to think about:

Journals hold your dreams and deepest desires. Whatever type of journal you keep, whether handwritten, audio recorded, or collage, there is a natural process of sharing or creating in your journal what you want for your life.

  • Your dream relationship.
  • The kids you want to raise.
  • The places you want to see.
  • The cars and houses you wish to own.
  • The food you want to try.

When you put any of your dreams into a journal and you think about them, let yourself feel the energy of them, they become a message to the universe that you want these things.

I know it sounds hoky, and I know you have likely heard this before, but it’s totally true. You don’t have to go far to read or hear a story about someone writing a list of exactly what they want in a house and the exact home they want is on the market within days. Or heading out to find the perfect little black dress and easily coming across the right one that happens to fit perfectly.

The universe working in our favor is good – at least for those of us who really want these things to happen.

If you would rather just think about the stuff/experiences/people you want in your life, don’t journal about them. Journaling invites your dreams and desires into your life and works to create opportunities for you to act on and get what you want. If you would rather keep your dreams as dreams, dreams that never actually happen, keep storing them in your head and wondering “what if.”

Otherwise you might get really clear through your journal writing and get into trouble. New job opportunities, the perfect partner, or your idea of a dream vacation could really upset your normal life.

Journals can be a place to tell your story. It took a long time and many different kinds of journals before this occurred to me: my journals are the places I create and tell my story; don’t I want that story to kick-ass? Hell yes I do!

I want my kids to pick up my journals when I’m gone and enjoy reading them. I don’t want the record of my life to be boring. I want my story to rock.

It’s true that life is not always a fantastic story, but maybe that’s because we are too focused on the ending and not on the process.

Journals are a place to capture the present moment. And in some moments, we need to be dark and lonely in the space of our journal. To exhale fears onto the page and let them simmer there. When we do that, our fears move to the paper and we can process, honor, and eventually move toward what we want, our ideal ending, in spite of our fears.

Your journal records your journey of getting to a place that you want to be. Through the cycle of reflection and dreaming in the pages of your individual sanctuary, you create the life you want.

A few down days are normal, because that’s part of any life process. We can make our story’s kick-ass by taking action on the ideas we come up with in our journal. Then if we ever re-read our story, or leave it for someone else to read, they will see the journey with an end that was achieved.

Journal writing can leave a legacy. My great-great grandmother left her hometown in Vermont when she was fifteen years old with her first husband. They bought passage on a vessel that sailed down the eastern seaboard of North and South America, around Cape Horn, and up into California, where they made a living running a Wells Fargo State Coach. Her journey is an amazing story.

I learned this story in parts. My first exposure to Emily Butterfield Parker was in a piece of writing my grandmother put together of a brief history of her side of the family. The details and information Grandma shared were enough to peak my interest. In more recent years, I’ve had the chance to talk with Grandma’s sister, my Great Aunt Becky. She was able to fill in all kinds of fascinating details. Like how Emily’s first husband died in California. She remarried and her second husband went off to seek his fortune during the Gold Rush. Seven years went by without seeing him before she decided he likely wasn’t coming back.

Emily’s story will forever be a legacy. I have written it down and kept it safe for my kids to read one day. But more importantly, Emily’s story is inspirational. She lived a life and created a story, one that her descendants love to hear and connect with.

Your journal is a legacy of your story too. Just think, when you write in your journal, you are creating a story that could inspire or change someone else’s life one day!

Unless of course, you don’t want to do that…then you should probably never pick up the pen in the first place.

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb: Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.

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