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.
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?
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.