“What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it. Dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it.”
– Sir Walter Scott
Keeping a journal, once a manly activity, has recently come to be viewed as a feminine pastime. However, many masculine men have kept journals. Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and James Madison all wrote journals during at least part of their lives.
It is time that men today take up this historic activity and begin reaping the many benefits of journaling – such as improved writing skills and greater life focus.
To start your own journal, simply follow the steps below.
#1 Decide The Topic
Before you start journaling, you need to decide what type of journal you will write.
Type One: Life Journal
Writing a journal about your normal life will help you keep motivated and give you an excellent way to review your day. In addition, well-kept life journals will become treasures that your children and grandchildren will enjoy reading.
Type Two: Specific Journal
Even if you do not usually keep a journal, you may want to write a specific journal during special time-periods of your life.
Specific journals might be kept during…
- a backpacking trip.
- a vacation to a foreign country.
- your courtship time.
- your children’s first years.
Although they do not require the long-term dedication needed for a life journal, these special-purpose journals will enable you to record the most important events in your life.
Specific journals throughout history include:
- Lewis’s and Clark’s journals during their exploration of the Louisiana Territory
- Soldier journals during both World Wars
- James Madison’s journal during the Constitutional Convention
#2 Get A Journal
Once you have chosen your journal type, you need to decide which medium to use.
Medium One: Computer
I use my computer for journaling because it provides more features both when writing and reading.
With a computer journal, you can…
- easily edit.
- use the built in thesaurus (on your word processor).
- search past entries.
- keep your journal safe (by backing up your computer).
Just using a word processing program (like MS Word or OpenOffice.org), you can easily create your own journal in minutes – and at absolutely no cost!
Medium Two: Physical Book
Throughout most of history, men have not been able to journal on computers. Instead, they used actual books.
Although I prefer writing on the computer, this method can be better if you…
- dislike typing.
- don’t have your own computer (or, just password-protect your journal).
- like the historic novelty of physical journaling.
If you do choose a tangible journal, make sure to use high-quality materials so that it lasts for your descendants to read.
#3 Write Useful Entries
With your journal in hand or on the computer, you are now ready to write your first entry.
To overcome writer’s block, consider writing on topics such as…
- your daily achievements.
- lessons you learned.
- Bible passages you read.
- plans you made.
- things you enjoyed each day.
Don’t worry about trying to make your entry styled “correctly”. Every journal is different, and there is no set format to follow.
#4 Continue Consistently
After the first couple of weeks, you will probably feel like stopping. Perhaps it takes too much time, or you simply do not know what to write about.
Do not yield to this temptation!
Instead, set yourself a reasonable writing goal… such as two entries per week.
Because this will not take much time, it will be less overwhelming and will leave you time for other activities as well. In addition, because you will not have to journal every single day, this goal will not force you to write on days when you did not have anything interesting happen.
Whatever you do, keep writing in your journal; you will be glad in years to come.
#5 Review Frequently
After you have been journaling for a few months, take the time to look back at your past entries.
Re-reading your journal will help you…
- keep motivated.
- recognize progress.
- reassess goals.
- remember happy times.
I try to read at least one old entry every time I write a new one.
If you have the discipline to keep a journal, you will ultimately become a better communicator, thinker, and man.
Have you kept a journal before? If so, what did you learn?