A Short Guide To Manly Journaling 3

“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?

3 thoughts on “A Short Guide To Manly Journaling

  1. Reply bondChristian Apr 26,2010 2:12 PM

    Good post, Nate. I’ve been a fan of journaling for a long time. I’ve never really done a computer journal – I guess my blog acts like a journal of sorts now.

    My physical journal, though, is a compilation of everything I write on paper. A few years back, I tried to go paperless. I’m still not entirely there, but I’m close. Now I just use my journal for writing down everything. It’s more difficult to go back through to find what I want, but it’s been handy in keeping track of both my thought life and the physical happenings of the day because it’s all in one place.

    Overall, It’s definitely something I’d recommend. Thanks for sharing.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  2. Reply Stormbringer Apr 30,2010 3:28 PM

    My effort at journaling at the beginning of this year was a failure. I wanted to be traditional and go with paper, but I had some problems. One is that one side is easier to write on than the other until you pass the halfway mark of the book, and then they switch. The other problem was with creating the habit in the first place. I’ve been doing Weblogs for almost three years, and I put myself into them, so I felt like I was duplicating my efforts. Sure, some personal thoughts I won’t put up for the world to see, but there wasn’t enough to make the journal worthwhile.

    A huge problem is to create a habit. I tried to create too many habits at one time (best to start very small, just one or two), and that one had to go. Also, it was a self-importance issue; I have none. Sure, I can share useful thoughts online, but who wants to actually read *my* journal? Should have started thirty years ago, when there was still a chance I could become a Teddy Roosevelt (who kept private as well as more public journals).

    Anybody still here?


  3. Reply David Feb 27,2011 11:37 PM

    A good friend and mentor recommended to me to carry around a small notebook and pen at all times. I found the small hardback moleskine notebooks with and without lines and have used them to fulfill this advice. It has been so inspiring and helpful to have this at my disposal to write down random thoughts, impressions and ideas on a daily basis that would otherwise be forgotten. These notes can then be transcribed in more detail later into a journal or other form of documentation.

    I have found that when writing in my journal or molskine notebook, writing with a a fine tipped (.1) pigment liner pen (Staedtler) and a small 6 inch ruler and as the base keeps my writing extraordinarily neat and legible.

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