Keeping a Journal: 7 Tips For Long Term Success

Journal Writing Can Be Fun and Easy, When You Follow These 7 Simple Steps

Computer with notebook and a pen
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LDS members are counseled to write down their thoughts and feelings about their life events. This is part of writing a personal history and preserving memories.

Writing in a journal can help us sort our the difficulties of our own lives, as well as assist posterity and others who come to earth after us.

These tips can help you with keeping a journal!

1. Be Consistent

Make journal writing a habit by planning a specific time or day when you will write in your journal, such as every evening before you go to bed, before you have breakfast or during lunch.

If you do not have enough time to write every day, pick a specific day of the week when you will write. Sundays are perfect; since journal writing makes a great Sabbath day activity, one the whole family can enjoy. Writing consistent journal entries will make future reading more enjoyable.

2. Be Complete

Things you take for granted because they are so much a part of your life right now may not be clear to future readers, or even yourself after a period of time. Include as much as you can. You will be glad you did. Pay attention to the following:

  • Use first and last names

  • Record facts
  • Record thoughts
  • Record feelings and emotions
  • Record events
  • Make certain dates have the day, month and year
  • Make certain places have the city, state or other information specific to your country.
  • Make certain you include enough information on people and events so that future readers can understand you.

3. Vary Your Entries

Make sure you write your feelings and thoughts about the things going on in your life.

Both facts and feelings should be included.

If you include only one type of journal entry, you are missing the richness that both can bring. For example, Clarissa Young, Brigham Young's daughter, included a detailed description of the Beehive House while she lived there. She described rooms, their colors and the furnishings. She even inserted a piece of drapery that was later used by restorers to reconstruct the drapes that once hung there. Her journal entries were invaluable in the restoration of the Beehive House.

Former President and Prophet, Wilford Woodruff kept detailed daily journals. He testified that Joseph Smith taught the importance of journal keeping. His journals are so valuable, because record keeping was just getting started in the Church during his lifetime. His journals provide some of the only early church history we have of some events.

4. Be Organized

Do you have more than one journal? Do you save letters, calendars, poetry, or other journal entries? If so, then you need to get organized!

  • Get everything together
  • Make an index of all your items
  • Write down each item, the dates (beginning and end), and a description of the actual item
  • Keep all your journal items together in a box, notebook, or other organizational kit
  • Place your index at the beginning with your first journal

Do not discount the value of your hard copy records. Digital record keeping and preservation is a crucial part of overall record keeping; but it is not preferred over hard copy records. A combination of both is ideal.

5. Ask Yourself Questions

If you are having trouble figuring out what to write, or what people may want to read in the future, ask yourself these questions:

  • What would you like to remember about yourself?
  • What has the Lord done for you?
  • What would you like to tell your children or grandchildren about yourself?

In a classic address, Elder Henry B. Eyring gave important council on how we ought to try to remember what Heavenly Father does for us on a daily basis.

6. Use Church Publications For Help

Children are not too young to record their own memories.

Journal writing is a good skill for youth as well. Church publications can help anyone get started. Access these resources:

Children

Youth

Adults

7. Do Not Give Up!

No matter how much time has passed since your last entry, do not be discouraged. What is important is that you write in your journal today!

Updated by Krista Cook.