Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Journal [jûr′ nǝl] n. A Personal Record ~By Suzy Leopold

Many people, young and old, keep journals-artists, students, teachers, librarians, gardeners, farmers, athletes, politicians, scientists, writers, chefs, and many, many more. 
Most writers use a journal to record everyday events and topics that interest them.  These journals may include daily entries that record news and events that are personal in nature.  They are private and not intended for others to read as one writes about personal experiences, thoughts and dreams, in a diary.  Others who write in a journal may want to share their thoughts, recordings and reflections. These individuals enjoy sharing, with a trusted reader, who is interested in the subject matter or information. Favorite quotes, jokes or delicious recipes can be passed on from a writer to a reader.  Some journals are considered working journals that record observations and facts, such as crop, plant and weather data. A double-entry journal, is a way to share, read and respond while rotating the journal between two writers. Most often a double-entry journal dialogue is between a teacher and a student.  These journals become a written conversation for learning and growing.  

The American Heritage dic•tion•ar•y defines the word journal: [jûr′ nǝl] n. A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary.

Did you know that Leonardo 
da Vinci kept over forty notebooks?  He wrote about his activities, and recorded plans for his engineering projects.  If Meriwether Lewis had not kept a journal, while exploring across North America, we would not have a glimpse of his travels, during the time he lived, nor the geographical information that he recorded in his journal. The beloved, world class diary, The Diary of Anne Frank, was written while Anne and her family hid in an attic, from the Nazis during World War II.  Reading her remarkable child diary connects the reader to the horrors of the war. President, Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president kept a kind of diary.  On little scraps of paper, he jotted down thoughts and sometimes referred to these notes in his speeches. Our beloved president was a powerful orator.  His love for the written word was evident in his love for books. As a young man, Abraham always had a book stashed away. He read whenever he found a chance to do so, sometimes finding a moment in between chores on the farm. On a page from Abraham's schoolbook he wrote the following poem: 

Abraham Lincoln
his hand and pen
he will be good but
god knows when

There are many purposes for keeping a journal or two or more.  A journal has many functions and uses.  Writing in a journal is an excellent place to jot down personal experiences, thoughts and memories.  

For additional information, refer to a previous post by JanieTickling Your Muse or How to Spark Ideas Using Glitter and Crayons.

Many readers and writers use journals to enhance their writing from beginning to end. It is a great format to write about books.  Keep a reading log of books you are reading.  Scribe your thoughts about the book.  Summarize and evaluate the book.  Would you recommend the book to others?  Consider recording ideas, information, data and facts, or rhyming words about topics that you wish to write about.  

As a writer, brainstorm thoughts and make lists in a journal. Use a journal for pre writing that is spontaneous and written in a first draft form. Try a strategy referred to as quickwriting.  It is an informal ramble of words on paper to develop and generate ideas.  Jump start your writing with some writing prompts that may spark some creativity.  Make a list.  Doodle. Sketch. Create a graphic organizer. Think of bold beginnings, mighty middles, and exciting endings. Add mementos and ephemera.  Jot down words and more words. Keep on writing. Just focus on your thinking and ideas; not grammar and spelling.  The revisions and editing can follow later.  Use a variety of writing implements.  You can use more than a pencil. Try writing with colored pencils, markers, or even a collection of rainbow colored pens.
Keep a pocket size journal or notebook in your purse or backpack for moments when bright ideas pop into your head.  Writing in a composition notebook or even a spiral bound notebook, make great journals. 
Create and keep a variety of journals and begin writing for many purposes.  One can never have too many journals.  Just think of the many possibilities.  What type of journal do you write in?  What kind of journal will you create to write in on a daily basis?


  1. I have notebooks where I jot ideas and lists, but I'd love to do more journaling. I so wish I had recorded more as a child so I could be better in touch with those feelings. Thanks for all of the tips and tidbits about journals, Suzy. Your journals are exquisite!

  2. Can you believe that the journal in third picture, Sue's Collection of Favorite Quotes and Poems, is from my high school days, Pat? I tend to be a *pack rat.* I know and believe in, less is more. However, I can improve. Perhaps you could go down memory lane and recreate some childhood feelings by looking through family photo albums and scrapbooks. Then you can jot down your thoughts and memories. Share your story with loved ones. Are you familiar with "Tell Me Your Story" type of journals? The grandchildren gave one to me. There are many prompts to answer, including family history, childhood memories, growing up and starting a family and much more. Oma Sue looks forward to completing this spiral bound journal to share my story, with our seven grands: Johannah, Joshua & Jaxon; Henry & Charlotte; Lily & Lane. I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for the compliment.

  3. Garden Girl, you are among THE BEST with keeping your words from days past. Do you know the author Adrian Fogelin? She was recently honored in a national conference by the International Reading Association. She keeps notebooks galore. And although my mind is blank on other names at the moment, I've seen this habit mentioned in articles by artists/writers galore. You are in great company. And all these journal mentions & the artwork make me want to organize by notebooks & start a new (prettier) one. Thank you! Plus Oma Sue is such a cute name. Lucky grandkiddos.

    1. Jan: Sincere apologies for the tardiness of a reply as I am just noting your comment. You are just too sweet. Thank you for the encouraging words. Is this the Adrian you referred to in the following link? How wonderful for her to be honored at IRA. Oma Sue is the lucky one to have seven grandkids! Hugs.

  4. Hi GROG/Garden Girl,

    I found this blog when looking for others' personal diaries online (not very personal I know!) What's that, an oxymoron?! Anyway, I LOVE the real-life notebook, and have loads of my own filled in, stacked away in boxes. It's a shame that with more of a full-time life I haven't been so regular in adding to one. Anyway, I started a blog tonight to try to help me get through some "dark/unknown/controversial/unwanted feelings" that I don't feel I can air fully in person, so I'm going to use a journal style format online to see if it can help me sort things out these things in my mind (and heart!) I fear that if I wrote in a real life notebook/journal that someone I know could find it.

    I love writing, so I was happy to come across your blog. :)



    1. Dear Anna K.: Sincere apologies to you, as I am just noting your kind words. Journals can be kept for so many reasons, including the following feelings that you described: "dark/unknown/controversial/unwanted." I do hope by now that after you *vented* in your journal that you now have the following feelings of: "brightness/knowledge/agreeable/wanted" feelings. Thank you for finding our GROG Blog. All the best to you. ~Suzy