My years of keeping a journal began as a teenager and was called a diary. My first one was covered in bright floral fabric and had a tiny golden lock with a tiny golden key. I lost the key almost immediately, but I never lost the process of writing my thoughts out at the end of each day in a diary which now goes by the grown-up name of “journal.”
I’m not alone in keeping a journal. Many business leaders, entrepreneurs, writers and creative thinkers do this and with good reason. In his book, The Business of Expertise, David C. Baker writes “Clarity comes in articulation.” Writer Flannery O’Connor said “I write to discover what I know.” And (I’m bringing out the big guns now) Socrates famously said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Why is writing out our inner thoughts so important? For me, it clears out the clutter of the day to reveal what’s truly important. It brings me revelations about marketing campaigns I’m working on for clients, clarity on any challenges I’m facing in my own creative projects, and helps me set goals for what I want to accomplish that day or week.
If that isn’t enough to entice you to pick up a pen and start a journal, consider this: studies show that writing regularly can improve your mental, and even physical, health. One study showed that people who wrote about a breakup were better able to cope with the heartache; another revealed that people who wrote down their worries experienced reduced anxiety. And, my favorite, is that we are 42 percent more likely to achieve goals when we write them down. Those are pretty great reasons to journal!
Why I Journal
- Get clarity on a project, a challenge, an idea or problem you are facing
- Create the motivation you need to take action
- See progress on what you working on, both professionally and personally
THE JOURNAL AS ART
Not all journals are about getting stuff done. Some journals document a creative life or simply exist as a personal exploration. The guru of the artistic journal has to have been Peter Beard. An American artist, photographer and writer who was well-known for his time spent in Africa and the photographs he took of the plight of elephants there, kept journals so expressive they have become collectible art pieces.
Frayed Leather Leaf Journal by Soolip
Five Tips On Keeping a Journal
- Try to write in your journal every day – morning or night, whatever makes it easy for you to be consistent. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Maybe just a few sentences are all that is needed for that day.
- Find a journal and a pen you love. That sounds pretty simplistic, but consider that Jerry Seinfeld has written all his jokes and even all the episodes of Seinfeld out long form on yellow legal pads using the Bic Clear Barrel pen in blue. My favorite right now is the frayed leather leaf journal by Soolip (shown above).
- Keep your journal nearby along with your favorite pen to make it easy and accessible. Using paper and pen and writing longhand rather than on a computer slows our brains down so we have time to think, consider and create.
- Write without judgement. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or if someone might see what you write. If it helps you write more freely, rip the pages out the next day and shred them. Getting thoughts down on paper is the important part, not keeping them to sell to a museum, unless, of course, they look like Peter Beard’s fabulous journals from Africa and you too look like a rock star in a sarong!
- Write enough to help clear the clutter for the day to come, or a night of sweet dreams.