June 14, 2017

To Journal, or Not to Journal, that is the Question - Ruth L. Snyder

Journaling is a helpful habit for writers for many reasons including recording inspiring ideas, clarifying thoughts, and planning for the future.
Writing in a journal is something I enjoy. However, my busy schedule does not give me the leisure of sitting down every day with a journal. I also have several different journals on the go - each for a different reason. Here are nine different reasons I journal:
  1. To record inspiring ideas - I used to carry a journal with me and record short descriptions of settings, characters, plot ideas, and anything else I ran across. I found this very helpful when I was writing short stories and fiction. I have never had the problem of writer's block; my problem is that I have more ideas than time.
  2. To capture my dreams - Sometimes I use a pen and paper, and sometimes I use digital tools like Pinterest or Notes (on my phone). When I get an idea, I try to write it down. When I don't write it down, I've discovered that I don't remember when I want to use an idea.
  3. To clarify my thoughts - Often my thoughts ramble. Anyone who has written a first draft understands that it takes a few sentences or paragraphs to dig down to the good ideas. Writing in a journal helps by getting all the fluff out of the way. It also helps because when I see something in writing, I'm able to understand what needs to be reworked.
  4. To think through issues - When I need to work through an issue, I find writing helps. I often make a list of pros and cons. Sometimes I just doodle. I can't explain how it works, but I know it does.
  5. To track progress - I find it helpful to write goals and review them on a regular basis. Sometimes when I go back to my goals I realize the goals were unrealistic, so I adjust them. Other times I am delighted and encouraged to see the progress I've made.
  6. To plan for the future - Sometimes I journal to capture items for a bucket list. I may not be able to tackle those items now, but it frees my mind if I can write them down. Sometimes I am also able to start taking steps towards goals that are several years down the road.
  7. To record personal thoughts and reflections - I currently have a devotional journal I write in every day. I write down verses that are meaningful to me each day, and also some prayer requests or thoughts about how the verses relate to me. In the past I also recorded events from the day and responses to those events.
  8. To remind to me be grateful - Most of us are aware of Ann Voskamp's 1,000 Gifts. It seems that us humans focus more on the negative than the positive. Writing down a few things every day that I am thankful for has been very helpful to me.
  9. To hone my writing skills - One way to get better at something is to practice. Writing in a journal allows me to see how words go together and think about how I can communicate ideas more effectively.
Writing in a journal is beneficial to all people, not just writers. According to Lori White's post,
writing can:
  • Reduce the symptoms of illnesses like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Help people work through trauma
  • Aid students in attaining higher grades
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Increase the odds of being hired for a job
  • Improve creativity
Obviously, I would say to journal is the right choice. What about you?

 Ruth L. Snyder is passionate about creativity. She is on a mission to help other creative people achieve their goals. Find out more at RLS Creativity.


  1. Spot on! So many good reasons to journal!

    1. I'm looking forward to finding out why/how you journal :)

  2. I agree with Tracy, spot on! Enjoyed reading your post very much, Ruth.

  3. I love all the reasons to journal! I like your #4 "Sometimes I just doodle. I can't explain how it works, but I know it does." I'm not creative, but a few years ago I purchased a journal called, Art - Doodle - Love. A journal of Self-Discovery. It was quite different from writing, although there were still places that required writing along with pictures or doodles. Like you said, it does work. It's another form of release for me. Thanks for sharing all the reasons why you journal.

    1. Thanks for sharing about the Art - Doodle - Love journal. It sounds like fun. I'm glad you're finding it helpful :)

  4. Thanks for this valuable post, Ruth. There are so many good reasons to journal, and you have captured a lot of them!!

  5. Thanks for the reminder, Ruth, that there can be many kinds of journals and many ways of journalling. Like you, I too have discovered that I can do some sorting out of life's challenges by having a discussion on paper with myself or with God. I focus better when I write some of my thoughts and prayers down. Writing in a journal helps me get over wrong or stagnated thinking and get on with a more positive world view.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Sharon.
      What I find interesting is that I rely on different kinds of journalling, depending on the season of life I'm going through.

  6. I love to journal and have kept most of them, from elementary school on. I also use journalling as a way to write out prayers.

    1. Thanks for sharing why you journal, Jenny. It would be interesting to go back and read some of your early journals - I can see them being very helpful if you want to write YA books!


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