“What Should I Write In My Journal?”

It’s a good question. And there are lots of answers to the question, “What should I write in my journal?” To keep it easy, keep lists to get you started.

One of Arizona's many freeway decorations. This one is East of Tucson, on I-10.

One of Arizona’s many freeway decorations. This one is East of Tucson, on I-10.

 Sure, you can keep a list of books you’ve read or movies you’ve seen, but it might be far more interesting to keep a list of where your buttons are (the ones that people push, not the ones that hold your clothes shut), the most outrageous outfit you see each day,  (where is the fashion police when you need them?), types of people you would like to fill your life with,  things you stopped to look at and loved, people you’ve kissed or hugged.

Add a list of food you’d like to eat and one of food you actually eat. Compare the lists and see if you are experimenting or if you prefer what you already know.

Overhead dialog makes a great journal entry. And you can re-use it later. On my way to Las Cruces last week, I overheard a woman on a cell phone outside a Trader Joe’s. In the seconds it took me to walk past her, I heard:

“We don’t know what’s wrong with her. All we know is she’s sick. Yeah, I’m at the hospital now, at the emergency room.” That kept my imagination in four-wheel drive for a few minutes. Can’t you see it worked into a short story about a couple who lie to each other, then run into each other in the produce aisle?

What the trucker wants you to know about what's in the truck.

What the trucker wants you to know about what’s in the truck.

You can also keep photos of interesting sites you saw throughout your day. Your journal doesn’t have to be just writing. Adding visuals–photographs you took–help you remember what you did, where you were, and what you were paying attention to.

Don’t feel you have to write every day. Write when you have something to say–but don’t be shy about what you have to say.

What do you like to write about in your journal?

–Quinn McDonald is a journaler and an art journaler.

12 thoughts on ““What Should I Write In My Journal?”

  1. Another interesting list are the number of snarky remarks you overhear in a day or the number of people you notice driving dangerously on your local streets (a few miles over the speed limit, speeding up at yellow lights, those texting as they go..). Some make for interesting reading as you go back at the end of a week.

  2. Quinn,
    I think list making is a brilliant idea to get started. Lists can be such profound sources without a whole lot of effort on our part. It can even be intuitive in its approach. I love your “button” mention. That can be a source for personal validation and positive change at the same time. I appreciate your fresh suggestions, not just the typical ones most think of with lists.

    I have chosen your post, “What Should I Write in my Journal?”, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 8/21/13 for all things journaling on Twitter; a link will be posted on the social networks, on my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in my weekly Refresh Journal: http://ow.ly/o8Y5q.

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: Story Telling. Debra DiPietro is our special guest.

    Thanks for more great ideas for keeping our journals interesting and fruitful. 🙂

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Your Refreshment Specialist
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child

    • Thanks, Dawn! I started the list thing when I was too tired to write a cogent sentence, and then it turned into a list-fest and i could watch the content change over time. Thanks for spreading the word!

  3. Sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, it’s full of joys, insights, angst, quotes, reflections, worries, hopes, dreams, specific goals and plans to achieve them, the day’s ‘to do’ list, ideas for making whatever, mostly words with some drawing, doodling: it’s my everything book, my zibaldone, an old 2003 A4 sized diary. I seldom know where each entry will take me.

  4. Right now I´m in search of a notebook. One that is pretty enough so I want to use it but not too pretty because I´m planning on ditching it when it´s full.
    I´ve even considered notepads, so I can burn each page as it is done. Yes, that kind of journal. The full of truth one. The dangerous type. 😉

  5. These are great ideas! Just what I needed to hear today… I’ve been journaling off & on for most of my life… A lot more regularly over the past 2 years (as a means of surviving an unexpected divorce), but have decided I need to start focusing on the “positive” unexpected parts of life too! (Oh! And I’ve got some great locations for the fashion police to start! 🙂

    • Journaling is a healing practice–emotionally and spiritually, and I often think, physically, too. I put a lot of negative things into my journal to get rid of it, then start to look for positives. You see what you look for. Keep writing!

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