It’s a rite of passage for many young girls. A hardback book—usually pink and flowery—full of blank pages ready to be filled with the innermost thoughts and reflections of a preteen, secured by a brass lock to keep out, well, everyone. I shoved mine under my mattress, not knowing how incredibly obvious a hiding place it was. I was sporadic about writing in my diary, mostly because I thought each entry had to recount the goings on of my day. How boring is that? At 13 my day consisted of taking the bus to school, going to class, taking the bus home, and doing homework til dinner. My deepest darkest secret was that I had a crush on my best friend’s boyfriend.
Later I began to journal. Much more grown up, don’t you think? I journaled moments that I didn’t want to forget. I journaled moments I probably would prefer to forget, but somehow knew that one day I’d want to remember. I journaled my wants and wishes. I journaled my travels, places I wanted to return to someday.
I no longer journal. I post on facebook, I tweet on twitter, I post on blogs. Social media has become my diary, my journal…my near only way of communicating these days. I need to change that and return to journaling. Mostly because I know I express myself much differently when no one else is reading. Which is exactly why you should also be journaling.
Put aside fear, abandon expectations, and just write.
What are you thankful for today? What do your children teach you? What are you terrified of? What did your grandmother’s home cooked meals taste like? What did the cement of the school playground feel like when your knee scraped against it as you dodged that red rubber ball?
See how descriptive writing can develop the more you write? Your first few journal entries may be “Dear Diary” entries. They may be simple accounts of your daily schedule. And that’s OK. But as you become accustomed to the ritual, you’ll begin to challenge yourself more and you’ll find yourself ready to express more than just who you bumped into at the store. Instead, you’ll divulge that you ran into your childhood best friend while she was shopping for flowers to take to her mother and you’ll remember her mother as the kind woman who took you into her home because your mom needed to be with your little sister at the hospital; the woman who combed your hair and laced your shoes, who made sure your homework was in your backpack and your lunch money was in your pocket, who kissed you and sent you off to school with your best friend while your own mom was sending your little sister off to another surgery; the woman who you knew as a second mom as a child.
Words are just words until you put meaning into them. Then they become expressive, passionate, telling, vivid…
Journaling allows you to put meaning into your words and develops your writing to the point that, perhaps, someday you’ll want to pull out the secrets from under your mattress and share them with others.