Friday, July 8, 2011

Journal Writing - Daily or Weekly?

I began my current journal on January 1, 2010 - I liked the idea of beginning a new journal at the beginning of a new year. I began by writing in my journal daily and, for quite a while, this worked.  I looked forward to opening up my journal late in the evening or early in the morning to jot down a few of my thoughts.  Because I typically write no more than a paragraph for each day, and because I have very small handwriting, I am still using the same notebook (a small unlined Quo Vadis Habana) over a year and a half later.

However, lately my journaling habits have changed.  Instead of eagerly writing every day, I find myself letting my journal sit untouched for days at a time and sometimes even forgetting to write altogether.  When I do return to my journal after a week or so, I feel guilty for not writing in it as regularly as I used to.  My feelings of guilt then make it difficult for me to write freely.  And because it has become so ingrained in me that this journal is a daily journal - and nothing else - I still end up writing an entry for every day, even though I'm only writing in it about once a week.

I can't switch from a daily to a weekly format until I move to a new notebook, and I can't move to a new notebook until this notebook is completely filled.  When this notebook is finished (which will be fairly soon), I will not keep a daily journal anymore.  As much as I love the idea of writing in my journal every day, it is just not working for me.  It would be better for me to write less often, but to look forward to writing without any feelings of guilt.

Do you keep a journal, or have you kept one in the past?  Do you write in your journal daily, weekly, or just whenever you feel like it?  Do you feel guilty if days or weeks go by without writing in your journal, or do you just shrug and let it go?  If you do write daily, what do you do to motivate yourself to write every day?


  1. I firmly believe that journaling is about freedom. That means, you write when you want without guilt. If it is not fun, and if it is a chore, what's the point of doing it?

    I journal regularly. I usually write daily, but not always. Sometimes couple of days will go by without putting anything in, but that's okay. I rarely go a week - except when I travel (and use separate travel journal).

    When I write daily, which is most of the time, I am motivated because I ENJOY IT. I love to journal. It has become an ingrained habit, that I think nothing of it - but in fact, sometimes I feel bad for spending time journaling when I have got other stuff to do.

    But this will be my tip - instead of focusing on notebook, focus on your motivation for journaling. Why do you want to journal? And what are your reasons - based on those reasons, does it make any difference whether you keep a daily journal or whenever journal? Try to find ways to get rid of the guilt, and enjoy the process. (I know irrational guilt is not at all easy to get rid of - I suffer from it all the time)

  2. I write regularly, but it is not quite daily. Some weeks I manage every day, others I just get to it when I get to it. In the end, I write when I feel like it and/or need to do so. I think some of the questions Dolly suggests make for some good reflection.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  3. I agree that you should write when you feel like it.

    I too rather lost interest in writing on a daily basis, it became a chore rather than a pleasure and then I read an article about The Artist's Way and Morning Pages - now I follow those guidelines. Many times I'll end up with half a page of "I don't know what to write" but I've only once not completed the full three pages. Most of it is repetitive and worthless, but I always feel better.

  4. Thanks for the comments, Dolly, itinerantlibrarian, and Julie! All of your advice sounds great.

    I usually start out with just writing when I feel like it, but then somehow I get it into my head that I need to write every day for some reason and then try to force myself to write everyday even if I don't feel like writing. My enjoyment of the writing should be my motivation for regular writing, rather than any preconceived ideas of how often I should be writing.

  5. And I, too echo Dolly's sentiments. Kick that guilt out of you life! The number one rule of keeping a journal: there are no rules!

  6. I realised after posted it here, that in a manner of coincidences, I posted a topic related to it on my blog before I read your post - might get you some answers.

  7. Oh, Honey Bunny, let me give you a big ol' hug as well as this Get-Out-Of-Guilt-Free card. The restrictions you have placed upon yourself for journaling would make a root canal more enjoyable. It's no wonder you don't want to write daily.

    I recognize your dilemma because I once had similar rules on journaling. I go so wound up about what I should write in which book and in what format that I didn't get anything written. So I wrote about that. I wrote why I did what I did, how I felt about it, what I thought about it, the grief it was causing, and the unwelcome results. And, in the end, wrote that all my rules were just plain silly. I changed my whole methodology mid-notebook. I'm still making changes along the way when something isn't working for me.

    Now I have no rules *at all* for journaling and life is better. I can't wait to open my book each night and start writing (or drawing, or doodling, or babbling or gluing stuff in it). I would burn through a large Habana in about two months if I was lucky enough for it to last that long. I buy lots of cheap notebooks.

    My motivation to write is a burning need to commit my thoughts to paper. I *need* to write more than I want to write. My soul feels incomplete without ruminating about my day at the end of it. It's a cleansing process. It sweeps my brain of all negative thoughts and records all positive thoughts so I won't lose them. Then I can sleep like a baby without chewing everything, good and bad, over and over and over again in my head.

  8. Thanks, JoniB and Speck! No rules - it sounds great, but is hard for me since I'm naturally a very organized person and like to keep every aspect of my life in order. Clearly, I need to do a bit of relaxing and letting go of the need for rules around my journaling habits. Thanks for the inspiration!

    And Dolly, I checked out your post; it was interesting to read the different reasons why the commenters kept their journals. I think I may need to do some re-evaluating of my own reasons for keeping a journal as well.

  9. Yep, every day. At night I write only a page of the highlights of the day. I keep a regular 2011 Standard Diary Daily Reminder red book. In the mornings (just about every morning) I write in a digital journal. I write about 750 words. That's the goal. At the top I list three things that are on my mind, and one thing that I'm thankful for or that makes me happy. So a real entry for July 9th looks like:
    1) software for journaling
    2) at a standstill on the blog
    3) still thinking about "Doing Time" book
    *) freedom to journal in the morning

    Then in the digital journal I write on each of the points above. There is no set word quantity for each. I write as much or as little as I want. The object is to write 750 words (or about 20 minutes) in a sort of stream-of-consciousness. It's great fun. I tried many formats but this one has been with me the longest. Not sure where I got it from but it works for me.


  10. Thanks for sharing your method, dave!

    I can see how sticking to a specific format like that could help to keep you focused. I'm not sure if a similar method would work for me though - everyone has a different way of journaling.

  11. What an interesting post! I spent years beating myself up when I didn't journal every day and I had my own set of rules that frankly didn't make journaling what I wanted it to be. Now I am far more relaxed. I don't write every day, I end a journal before finishing if it doesn't feel right to me, I use my journal as a 'normal' journal and an Art Journal in one so it gets delciously thick and filled with bits, sometimes I use prompts, sometimes I just write what I want. I can write a few lines or pages and pages. And since all this my journal has become more valuable thing to me.

    Good luck in your journaling.

  12. Thanks for the comment, journal-stories!

    I find it interesting that you combine your "normal" journal and art journal. I have usually kept these two separate, but I am thinking of bringing them together because I always feel as though I simply have too many notebooks on the go.

  13. awesome post


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