It's probably no surprise that I'm in favor of keeping a diary, since I can look back on nearly 20 years of writing and see how doing so has enhanced my life. I use the words journal and diary interchangeably and would agree with Webster's definition: "A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary."
That said, I have a diary near my bed. There I keep records of dreams and ideas particularly related to my spiritual or "inner" life. On my computer you will find numerous documents that collectively qualify as parts of my journal: my bogs, my manuscripts for books in progress, emails and transcribed text messages, and random writings.
As many of you know, for the past year I have been seeking a man willing to become an "object" for my pleasure and service. I have kept rather complete records of my conversations with these men, essentially a diary of enthrallment. I also encourage my applicants to dairy about our conversations and meetings in order to better decide if we are a fit and to help them learn more about themselves.
This just one of the many examples of what I do with diaries. I've come up with five reasons why I journal: Documentation, Remembrance, Long-term view, Reflection, Clarity, and Career.
Without documenting events, thoughts, and feelings, they quickly fade out of view. Therefore keeping a record of them insures a kind of permanence that allows us to experience the rest of the benefits that I have listed here.
The prime reason for keeping a journal is that it chronicles my feelings and thoughts on a given day so I that I can compare the feelings on given topic over the course of time. Very often our feelings determine our decisions. Since our feelings vary like the movement of a roller-coaster, keeping track of them over a period of time (such as a month) gives us a much more balanced and over-all view of how we really feel about a topic. It is, or can be, an important help in decision-making.
Another benefit to journaling is that our thoughts are preserved for posterity. As I child I never learned what my grandfathers believed. In fact, even though I was often around my maternal grandfather and he taught me how to garden, we never talked about important matters. As for my Dad's father, I was in the middle of a pack of 17 grandchildren, hardly noticed and seldom spoken to. My collected journals, therefore, will be a way for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to get to know me. That said, they won't read them until they're over 21 years of age.
I once heard that the best memory in the world can't keep track of things as well as writing in pencil on a piece of paper. Write it down and it may well last a lot longer than your brain. It is as simple as that. Unfortunately we can't reflect on a topic if we don't remember the details surrounding it. The written or typed word is among the most secure memory we have.
You see, if you forget what was said, meant, intended or agreed upon, when it's written you can look it up. If not, you're out of luck.
Things change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. In either case, when we are in the middle of an event it looks a great deal differently than when we look back on it at a later date. For example, I am quick to panic about my cash flow. When I remember that I have survived previous cash-flow debacles (and Patrick is quick to remind me of this) the immediate crisis pales greatly.
One of the most human of activities is reflection: "Mental concentration; Careful consideration; To think seriously; To express seriously considered thoughts." I will admit that we may not actually do much of it, but it is an important part of good decision making. Not only that, but reflection is the best path to wisdom. That, in itself, is the best reason to journal, since reflecting is a very important part of the journaling process.
Please note the last paragraph carefully. Though diaries hold the memory of events and thoughts, their most important usage is as a way to foster, encourage, and preserve reflections. I find that the value of a journal is not in the moment that a passage is written but rather in the cumulative fact of reflections written of the course of time. The journal becomes an important dialogue with oneself, leading to increaed self-knowledge.
That, then, brings me to another result of a good journal: clarity. What we write over the course of months speaks loudly to us about our true feelings, the real facts, and ways to resolve all sorts of issues.
In order for this to work, we have to use a dairy as an aid to our thought process, such as by creating lists of pros and cons or keeping quotes that are meaningful to us.
Now you're liable to think that since you're not a writer, keeping a journal has nothing to do with your job. Well, think again, as everyone has to write something at some time or another. Writing itself will make you a better writer, since practice makes perfect. Of course it helps if someone reads what you write once in a while and gives you constructive criticism to help you improve.
So What does it entail?
Journaling is a lot easier to do than we usually think. All you have to is keep at it at a regular pace. I often suggest writing about 100 words, four or five times a week. Got nothing to write about? Then comment on the weather or the news. Write about what's happened in your life, or how you feel today, or what you've dreamt or wished for. Write about your hopes and fears.
Don't edit yourself while you are writing. Leave that for later. Just writing anything is better than not writing at all. Use pen and paper or a word processing program. Keep at it. Even if you stop for a while, then go back to it later. Something is better than nothing.
Here are two websites for help and ideas: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2007/07/journaling/ and http://stress.about.com/od/generaltechniques/p/profilejournal.htm.
Good luck and have a great week. Jack
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My new novel, The Dionysian Alliance, is getting noticed. Here is a link to Erotic Awaking, a pod cast by Dan and Dawn. If you don't want to hear the spanking part (it is good) then fast forward to the 39 minute spot on the slider: http://www.erotiwakening.com/archive/ea166-a-spanking-a-spanking/ . There you will find an interview they did with me about the book.
A reader sent me this mini-review: "Hi Jack -- To let you know I just completed reading The Dionysian Alliance. Enjoyed it very much. I liked the clear development of characters, the visual descriptions of the locations, and the nice anticipatory flow of the story. It's pretty evident you did a lot of research to produce it, and soul-searching as to how to blend the book's many elements and themes. Thanks for a great read. -- Jerry in Taos NM"
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You can send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at http://www.LeatherViews.com. You can also subscribe to my blog at LeatherMusings.blogspot.com. Copyright 2011 by Jack Rinella, all rights reserved.