Don't Just Write In Your Journal, Read It As Well

Photo: Bookblock

Journaling can be a great practice for getting ready to start the day, for thinking through your goals and dreams, and to harness your creativity. But if you’re doing all this writing, when do you read your journal? Do you even have to?

Sometimes when I’m journaling, I think to myself, “this will be so interesting to look back on later,” or “good thing I’m saving these thoughts for posterity.” And then I never, ever, ever end up going back and reading any of it.

But then this tip about keeping a training journal caught my eye: Schedule some days where you look over past entries, and reflect on what’s changed. Here’s how they suggest doing it:

Pick a couple days in the past and read through what you wrote, paying attention not just to what’s different about what you were focused on at that time relative to the present, but how you described yourself and your goals — how has your outlook and attitude changed over time, and how has your ability to confidently and clearly describe yourself and what you want improved?

Include these observations in that day’s entry — what are you proud of having changed and improved, and what still needs work and needs to remain a focus every day? What has worked for you, and what hasn’t? How are you going to change what isn’t working?

Review seems essential for other types of journals, too. I recall reading that Natalie Goldberg, who has written extensively about free writing as a creative tool, sits down with a notebook once it’s full and picks out the parts of it that might work well in poems or other future works.


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