Six Principles of How I Write My Journal

Posted March 23, 2014 ‐ 3 min read

Despite not being a frequent blogger, I am consistent with keeping a private journal that documents my life. The level of depth and introspection achievable with a private journal is different than what can be expected from a public blog or posts in a social network profile (which show mostly an external view), and over the years I have learned about how greatly it contributed to my decision making process and understanding of self.

There can be several advantages of keeping a private journal:

  • Your writing pad behaves like a psychologist. Even if no one will ever read your journal, just writing about your life puts things in proper perspective. It's like a Rubber duck debugging.
  • Reading past journal entries teaches you about how much you changed and how you changed. Also, you find out that you have worried to much. Overall it would reduce your stress levels.
  • There are places you have been and people you have met and some decisions you have made that you would not like to forget many years down the road, because these understanding how your personality can thus far at any point in time can be helpful for knowing how it could develop even further.
  • If you ever want to spend countless hours some time in 2030 telling your kids the exact and glorious story of 'how I met your mother' you'd be able to do so.
  • You might improve your writing skills if you don't have much of them to begin with.
  • It's your auto-biography material, in case you become that magnificent successful person you plan to be (don't we all need ambitions).

It took a few years to find the best method to sustain a good private journal. I'd share you with some interdependent principles that I have garnered from the practice:

  1. Keep one entry per month. One month is not too short to make the journal seem too tedious and boring in retrospect, and not too long so you wouldn't forget the key aspects of how you spend your time, and your reflections over that spent time. Also, a month is the sweet spot that it takes most things to develop in a way that actual description of progress is possible.
  2. Start writing the entry about a week before the month is due, and keep revising it until the 'deadline'. It is a drafting process which produces a nice and readable entry.
  3. With that final week revisions you should find yourself making plans for the next month, and even writing them down, going back to see what you planned to do the previous month, etc.
  4. Write more than 1,000 words. I usually reach 2,000. Turns out your life is less boring than you thought.
  5. Pick a title for each entry, like a chapter from a book. And add a soundtrack. Just kidding.
  6. Write about everything, encrypt the damn thing, and don't let anyone read it, including the NSA (I don't back it up to the internet anywhere conspicuously). Otherwise, you would not write honest entries.

If you do that for 50 years, you would get one hell of a book. That's the book of your life. And whether you decide to use it exclusively for reminiscing by taking it to your grave, or be careless about it near death and open it up for any interested party, it would be worthwhile.

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