Journal Writing: Keeping a journal

10-16-2014 1-53-33 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

Think ahead to one hundred years; one of your ancestors will be seeking to better understand himself by trying to get to know you. What will you leave behind? Will there be videos to view, an oral interview to listen to, or a journal to read? Your ancestor will find your journal to be of great value. You will be one on one with him, sharing your innermost thoughts, feelings, and reflections.

Your journal is the repository of your experiences. It becomes a guide, a mirror, a confidant, and a friend. It is important to have a journal that is a statement of who you are. The following are a few ideas that will help improve your journal writing.

Your journal is a record of your life.

In your journal, you will record important experiences in your journal because they affect you. You will want to explore not only your thoughts and feelings, but also your experiences.

But a journal is not just a diary; entries you make regarding your day, events you experience, and their effects on you are only springboards to a more fulfilling activity. You will delve beyond the experiences, events, and emotions to discover what essential teachings life holds for you.
As you write your journal, cover topics from a life and chronological point of view.

Life topics can include the following:

  • Economics, income, work, career
  • Living arrangements
  • Family developments (birth of sibling, death of grandparent, and so forth)
  • Extended-family developments
  • Health
  • Education
  • Hobbies, interests, talents
  • Church or religion
  • Annual holidays and vacations
  • Friendships
  • Current events

Chronological topics can include things such as the following:

  • Roots, or the person’s family heritage up to his or her birth
  • Birth, including family setting into which the person was born
  • Pre-school childhood
  • Childhood, perhaps through grade school
  • Adolescent years
  • Coming of age as a young adult
  • Young parenting years
  • Later parenting years
  • Empty-nest years and retirement
  • Death and legacy