This started as a comment on Zoe's post Journals, Planners and Lists...Oh My! and I quickly realized it would be hideously long so I created it as a post of its own. So Zoe, this one's for you babe! Everybody else, please go read Zoe's post and give her some suggestions, come back here and read mine, then for Pete's sake please leave a comment with suggestions for me! I need all the advice I can get here.
I've been messing around with various forms of journaling for the past couple of years now and am endlessly frustrated by it.
My problem is, I don't quite know what I want my journal to be. What is its purpose? Ok follow me here:
Many moons ago, I used a large daily Moleskine to write things I wanted to capture every day. Mainly cute things my kids did and said. When they were really little, that was easy because they were at that age where they came out with noteworthy stuff every day.
Now they are a little bit older, and while I still want to capture those nuggets to remember, it doesn't necessarily happen every day.
When they were babies my DH bought me a journal for each one of them--lined, undated A5 size, pretty covers. I transferred all the stuff from all my various planners etc where I had jotted those nuggets and consolidated them into each of these books. Grand. But I stopped doing that a few years ago, so now said nuggets are dispersed among however many planners and journals as I've fitfully started and stopped so many, and wrote happy things to remember in whatever book I was using that day. Ugh. So the solution to that is, sit my ass down and consolidate back into each kids' journal. Needless to say that task seems daunting so despite my best intentions I keep putting it off. Meanwhile I'm still jotting things down in whatever planner and/or diary I'm using at the moment.
So journal purpose #1 is to capture memories of my kids. Solution: back-fill the journals I already have, and from that point on get better about writing directly into those specific journals.
Purpose #2 for my journal is to capture good memories in general. This is where things begin to get murky. Often these happy memories get entwined with kids' happy memories, so where do I write them? Into each kids' journal plus into a separate journal of my own? Indecision means they either don't get written at all, or at best they get abbreviated and noted in my day per page diary. But I don't necessarily want these mixed in with doctor's appointments and bills to pay.
When I was younger I filled book after book with pontification, anxiety, events, and whatever else was going through my mind at the time. I never even read those books. Aside from their cringeworthiness ("What should I be DOING with my life???") a lot of it is crap that just doesn't matter now. Also, when I used my journal as an emotional dump, that stuff is not fun to read later. And I sure wouldn't want anyone else reading it in the future. So I know I don't want to use a journal for that.
Another thing I've noticed is that I remember things much more fondly later than I felt as I experienced them at the time. It's easier for me to forget some of the hardships after the fact and remember the good times. But if I had written a journal during that time the happy stuff would have been obscured by my frustration, anxiety, boredom or whatever other negative emotions I was feeling at the time. So in that way I'm better off not recording emotions at all. Just factual reporting would be better.
But now I find myself looking back through my blog and reading between the lines to remember how I was feeling when we moved from X to Y, then from Y to Z, then from Z back to Y again and all the times in between. It's recent enough that I still remember what was going on in my head, mainly. Wouldn't I benefit now from having written some of that emotional stuff down? Wouldn't it be comforting in a way to look back through now?
So there's Purpose Q for my journal. Q being for Question, and the Question being what the heck exactly to I want from my journal?
I want something that's valuable to read back through later. Happy memories, and experiences that I can learn from. I guess part of the problem is, I don't know what those are at the time and only recognize them in retrospect.
Currently I'm not doing any journaling at all, but I'm considering going
back to a blank book to write things out to help me figure stuff out. One thing I am going to do is Ray's genius suggestion on how to catch up in a journal when you haven't been writing for awhile. Read his excellent post about it here.
So Zoe, sorry but I don't have an answer for you. And everyone else who managed to get through this post, thank you for reading!
Does anyone have any suggestions for me?