How to find time in a busy schedule to keep a journal

Following are some common excuses for avoiding writing in our journals and some possible solutions:

"I'm not a good writer." Some of the least appealing writing occurs when we try too hard. Just let it come out the way you talk. Remember to write how you feel, and let it spill out like a testimony. Be true to yourself and your own style.- "It's too overwhelming." Many of us do not keep a journal because we cannot muster the emotion to write when our schedule might allow it. To write all that has happened in the last month is just too much to even think about, so we won't even try. The solution: Agree with yourself to write about your life today. In reality, our lives are made up of just a series of these days.

"Nothing really interesting happens to me." You'll be surprised to find how charming it can be to read things like, "I swept the floor and washed laundry today," especially when the person who wrote it is someone you love.

"I'll remember what happened and write about it later." Truth is, we rarely write about it later. I am often prompted to write in my journal at 2 a.m. I have never yet regretted rising from bed and recording something on my mind or a beautiful or painful moment from the past day. But I often regret ignoring the prompting.

"I just don't see how it could benefit anyone." Besides being priceless to those who love you, a journal is a terrific emotional release. My mother used to say, "If it won't leave your mind, write it down and give your brain a rest!"

Now a few suggestions:

Have a bound book or notebook so your entries are consecutive and pages aren't lost. If you use a computer, be sure to make hard copies now and again, and back up on a separate disc. When I finished my first journal, I made photo copies of each entry and gave them to my mother to store.

Most of all, think of it as a privilege rather than a burden, a gift you give rather than a task. - Cori Connors, Farmington, Utah

What we did:

Uses every free minute

My daughter is a wife and mother of four young children. She is a homemaker, works three times a week as a nurse, teaches a Sunday School class, is a Cub Scout leader and leads a very busy life. Yet she manages to write in her journal every day, and at the end of the week sends a copy to us, her missionary parents. I wondered how she could possibly do this with such a busy schedule. She told me that whenever she finds a free minute, such as a wait in a doctor's or dentist's office, or traveling to and from places with her family, or any free minute, she will take out her journal, which she has with her at all times. She writes the day's happenings and activities down. At the end of the week she runs off a copy and sends it to us so that we get to read what the family is doing, and she also has a good up-to-date record in her journal. - Sister Norma S. Averett, Memmelsdorf, Germany

Journal is a treasure

Eleven years ago it became a habit for me to write weekly letters to my parents. I didn't want them to miss out on all the things that we were busy doing and wanted them to be aware of what was happening in the lives of their grandchildren. I tried to help them visualize what my sons and daughters were doing so that my parents would continue to know and love them.

I have asked my mother to save my letters so that I can bind them together chronologically, thus making my journal. My children tease me about my detailed letters to their grandparents. I smile at them as I keep typing, thinking about how wonderful it would be if I could open some pages of my mother's journal and read about her frustrations and joys while rearing her children. To me, that wouldn't just be a journal - it would be a treasure. - Kim Thomas, Woodstock, Ga.

Pray for help

Keep your journal by your bedside. This makes it convenient to get to.

Write in your journal before you go to sleep every night. By writing in your journal in the evening, the day's activities will be fresher and you will have more to write about.

Use a plain spiral-bound notebook if you find it difficult to write in specially made journals. I am more comfortable jotting down my thoughts and feelings in something that is plain rather than in something that I feel is too pretty to scribble in.

Force yourself to write. The old habit of "nothing happened today" is all too convenient to use if you are not in a writing mode.

Pray to our Father in Heaven that He will help you keep up your journal-writing habit. - Heather Thorn, Eugene, Ore.

Make a quick note

When my three sons were growing up, I kept four pieces of typing paper by my typewriter, one for me and one for each of them. Whenever something memorable happened, I made a quick note about it on scratch paper; and then as soon as I had a moment, I would put the appropriate piece of paper in the typewriter and record the incident.

When a page was full, I would put it in that person's journal. It is amazing how much has been preserved by this easy method. My sons still enjoy looking over what happened to them years ago.

I continue this practice for myself today, though we now have a computer. And I save all the letters and e-mail from my sons so I have a continuing record of their lives. - Jan Dickson, Hawthorne, Calif.

Be consistent

Personalize your journal to reflect your own style with snapshots, stickers, artwork or even postcards from vacations. When your journal is fun, you will look forward to writing in it. Many people use their computers to keep entries because it's convenient. - Kathy Terry, Spokane, Wash.

Keep it informal

I keep it informal. I write my journal in simple stenographic notebooks. This little notebook is not so intimidating to me as a hard-bound book or pre-printed journal sheets. Each notebook is numbered and when finished, I place a label on the cover indicating what dates the journal covers.

I don't overly worry about content. I jot down daily events and whatever engenders strong emotion, both positive and negative. I consider my journal an opportunity to work through my thoughts and emotions. - Pam Case, Tracy, Calif.

Records on tape

Sometimes I'll write down some things in my day planner, but more frequently I'll type my notes into the computer or punch it out on my typewriter. On rare occasions, I will even record my comments onto a cassette, which I then transcribe onto paper at a later time. Regardless of how the journal entry gets created, it all gets punched into a three-ring binder. - Sander J. Rabinowitz, Franklin, Tenn.

How to checklist:

1 Make it a priority; realize worth to family, descendants.

2 Use free moments, such as waiting for appointments.

3 Keep letters to, from loved ones; put them in binder, etc.

4 Make journal fun; personalize with snapshots, artwork.


Aug. 24 "How to most wisely harvest and preserve produce from a family garden."

Aug. 31 "How to help LDS youth have social opportunities when they are few in number."

Sept. 7 "How to overcome emotional, physical burnout."

Sept. 14 "How to include a socially underdeveloped child in classes and activities."

Sept. 21 "How to be more optimistic."

Sept. 28 "How to cope with, help a child who is suffering from emotional, mental illness."

Oct. 5 "How to financially prepare your family for missions, education."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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