I’ve been journaling for years. Throughout the years my journaling style and methods have evolved.
The ability to journal well is sometimes lost with the need for flexibility and convenience. As a result, I have numerous journals with one or two entries, and I also have typed journals chronicling my daily spiritual life. Making the two meet is not easy. But is it necessary?
If you’re struggling with journaling, I’m here to help. I think I can offer you some advice that will assist you in scaling the process down so you’re not overwhelmed in getting those necessary entries logged into the proper place at the right time.
When evaluating the need for pen and ink versus typed entries, I’ve come to one simple conclusion: you may need both. Here’s why…
Strangely enough, there is a stimulus and release of our soul that transpires with handwritten entries that cannot take place with mere typing. I know, I know… typing is easy. But when you lay the pen to that page, your brain functions differently. Strangely enough emotional nuances are transferred via your pen. Is your writing smaller or bigger, rougher or neater, smoother or choppier? I’ve personally found that my entries convey so much more than what I merely write. It can be found in my handwriting as well.
Believe it or not, there is a deep satisfaction that comes with handwritten journaling. There is a release of your soul in a way that can’t happen with typing. The actual neurologic pattern is different. Memory and emotion are both more active with handwritten entries. You will remember the things you handwrite more readily than the things you type. You also are more emotionally connected to what you’re writing. Why? A different part of your brain is being used. And the emotional stimulus is much stronger. Even the pressure of your pen changes. That translates to a much more genuine soulful entry. We are more likely to pause, ponder, and even write what is difficult to otherwise convey. So in the end, transparency increases as well.
What we feel both physically and emotionally with our pen and ink is so much more than mere words. We color, doodle, and have the ability to release our thoughts and emotions in their rawest form. The type of medium used can also be significant. The difference in stylus is often important and holds a purpose for our entries. Color is also a factor at play. Typing simply does not allow for these creative variances. But when you chose to write, you suddenly have endless options.
So when it comes to stimulus, nothing serves us so well as a piece of paper and the right pen, pencil, or even paint.
Capturing the Moment
I have found that having a small pocket journal for my purse or nursing scrub uniform brings an ease and comfort to my life — just like having a pocket bible. I can instantly jot down a thought, a memory, a prayer, a word from God, a bible verse, and any other incident of the day. It’s readily at hand. This journal is not for the lengthy soul-sprawling entry. Rather, this serves very well for the momentary entries that dot our daily lives. And oddly enough, these are sometimes the most poignant and promising entries. They are the ones we can’t afford to forget or lose.
So capture the moment and get yourself a little pocket journal. You won’t regret it.
A handwritten journal as well as a typed journal both serve beautifully for continuity. Pick your passion. Continuity also assists in achieving a good chronology (which we will discuss next). For this purpose, either handwritten or typed entries can perform very well. However, I can type ten times as fast as I can handwrite anything. So for practical purposes, I now type entries when I need to chronicle events and circumstances of the day as they transpire, and I’m able to translate them into my spiritual life readily.
With that said, when typing such entries I always reference my pocket journals. I have them handy so I can reference and elaborate upon their content. That elaboration doesn’t happen easily with a hand-written entry. It would take forever. Typed entries are often more practical, and their content is much more concrete. It’s not necessarily about the emotion sometimes. I simply need specific details. Typing allows for this in a very fluid manner that would otherwise be tedious with a handwritten entry.
The continuity of your journal should be fluid, regardless of how frequent you make entries. However, to achieve that goal most individuals find that making a daily entry is warranted regardless how eventful the day may have been. Gaps in your journal can be a sore interruption, especially when referencing later in life. Those gaps can appear like voids, or missing puzzle pieces. And speculation is never welcome in such instances.
We’ve already talked about continuity with both hand-written and typed entries, and both serve a purpose. But chronology is a bit different in that it allows you to precisely document and easily reference your journal entries. So let’s talk about how to make that happen.
I’d like to share that key events, circumstances, interactions with people, major life decisions, prophetic words, and spiritual experiences — all of these deserve the time and attention a typed entry offers. They may start out in your pocket journal, but they may well-deserve a typed entry. This lends to ease of reference, and again, it brings a very fluid continuity — and a beautiful chronology.
With regard to chronology, I have been overwhelmingly blessed by the years I’ve typed an annual journal. My headings reference the day, date, and place of interaction. And I will often give the entry a title deserving of its content for ease of reference. I can even go back and create a table of contents by month or specific significant events. It’s very helpful. Doing that with a handwritten journal could be quite challenging.
If you are serious about journaling, use discretion with the entries you make and the time you invest if chronology is your goal. Making daily entries may not be a necessity if that particular day was uneventful. They’re certainly not for me. But when they’re warranted, I type an entry, and I try to reference anything I may have jotted in my pocket journal.
Therefore, the goal of good chronology should allow for ease of reference. It does not imply, however, that you need to make daily entries to achieve that goal.
Sometimes seasons in life and significant life-altering events deserve a journal designated just for them — whether good or bad.
The solemnity and sanctity of these special events in your life stand alone and deserve some sacred space. They often come once, and never again. If you’re in a season of healing, have fallen in love, are going through a private battle, had a child, got married, or have encountered a life-altering circumstance such as a trauma or bereavement, I suggest getting a special journal. I also highly recommend that your journal provides you plenty of room and does not limit your entries with lines or spacing. I’ve found blank pages are best. This gives opportunity for pasting pictures, drawing, and creating some entries that may otherwise be hindered. Many mediums could be used such as ink, pencil, paint, etc. Use your journal precisely as you choose. It should serve you in that distinct purpose for which its intended.
I kept a journal for special moments that took my breath away or brought me immense joy or laughter. In addition to a baby-book, I encourage getting a journal for each of your children. Write down their firsts and things they’ve said or done that just made you say, “Wow…” You can also establish a prayer journal for your spouse and each of your children. These will someday make wonderful heirloom quality treasures that can be passed down to them.
Pictures are always great as well. But video or voice journaling is also very special. Just make sure you have room.
Whatever method of journaling your choose, keep these purpose journals sacred. These generally belong in a locked drawer or hope chest if you have one. If you don’t have one, you can always make one. And if you make one, I encourage you to make it special as well.
Privacy & Security
This is a key concern for many of us who journal. After all, our journals contain the most intimate parts of our souls and lives. Know this: the privacy of your journal is only as good as its security. I’ve often contemplated which is more private or secure: a handwritten or typed document? The truth is, both have their vulnerabilities. But if I had to choose, I believe a handwritten journal is more secure over a typed one. Simply because there is only one copy, and it can be hidden or locked away in various places at will. Unless it’s genuinely lost — there is a slim chance of anyone else ever seeing it. I like that about handwritten journals. But again, keeping them safe is the priority. In an effort to do that, be careful not to hide if from yourself. Give it a home and keep it there.
Typed documents are easy to store in the cloud, but they are vulnerable just like anything else stored in the cloud. With typed docs you also run the risk of lost data for a multitude of reasons. You can lock your journal, but that may defeat the purpose as one who uses it so frequently. And if someone really wants to hack it, there are certainly ways around any code that would lock it down. With a typed document I’d honestly worry more about inadvertently losing data due to computer glitches and updates, etc. than someone intentionally targeting me to steal or hack my content. So do yourself a kindness and keep copies on your hard drive as well as the cloud.
Regardless of which method you choose, there are always security risks. Minimizing that risk is the goal. With that said, I would title your journal wisely if it’s stored in a document, and keep several copies so the risk of losing it is minimized. Simply enough, do your due diligence to make sure it’s secure.
With your handwritten journal, just be a responsible adult. Keep it in your purse or pocket where it belongs. Don’t leave it vulnerable to others when you’re out and about. And when you are confident it’s not going to be used, leave it at home. No one but you should really know you have it. In other words, I wouldn’t flag it in public although you may use it discreetly. It’s really that simple. Going to the trouble to place a lock and key on any journal is a bit much. It seems counterproductive to its purpose, as you will likely be the only one having to unlock and lock it time and again. That’s as much of a journaling deterrent as it is a headache.
Should you put your name and number in your journal in case it’s lost? That is something you must decide for yourself. I truly believe most people would honor any individual who lost a journal in trying to return it. So, I personally believe the odds are in your favor if you ever lost it, of having it rightfully returned to you. Would you sacrifice privacy? Absolutely, yes. But at least the likelihood of having it back would be greater. Your first name and email should be sufficient. I would not suggest leaving a phone number.
I hope this post helps you in discovering how to journal. As I’ve said before, journaling has nothing to do with being a “writer”. Anyone can journal. The rewards of journaling are endless. As you live your life your journal will give you reference points along the way that serve as wonderful markers and guides in your journey with God. Hence the name “journal”.
Let me know if you need help. I’d love to answer any questions you may have. Also, please reference my other posts on journaling if you need more ideas or tips. I think these posts will really bless you.
Cheers & Shalom,
Image Credit: 6689062 | Pixabay