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I've been reading about other writers' journal processes, as well as thinking about what I want done with my journals after I die, and it occurred to me to ask a question. When you write in your journal (or draw, or whatever else you do), are you writing for the present or for the future? Are you thinking aloud on paper, or creating a chronicle of your life? Or is it some of both?

I write almost entirely for the present. I use my journal to think things through - I seem to understand things better and more deeply when I'm writing my thoughts down. Journaling lets me make mental leaps that I wouldn't otherwise make. I hardly do any chronicling of my day-to-day life, and while sometimes I feel like I should (I do wish I had more of a record of my daily life in my earlier journals), that kind of writing doesn't come naturally to me. I do make a couple of concessions to the future - I date my entries, and if a word comes out unreadable I cross it out - and I never destroy any of my journals. But my journals aren't intended as a record, either for myelf or for anyone else; when I write, I'm writing for myself in the moment.

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
sarahrose
May. 28th, 2014 12:27 am (UTC)
For me, it's a well-melded combination of both. I write for me now but I also write for posterity. My journals are to be preserved and passed on as long as possible after I die. But I hold nothing back - everything is very honest in terms of what happens, what I think and feel, etc. But I write every word with the knowledge (and excitement) that it will all be passed on and, someday, historical. My journals are a diary (a chronicle) and a journal (a log of feelings and thoughts).

I'm so glad that you never destroy your journals. It always makes my heart happy when people don't. I am so anti-journal-destruction, I can't even tell you.
yummee_pie
May. 28th, 2014 01:06 am (UTC)
I write in the present. I usually don't date the pages because I tend to see "I wrote 16 pages today" and then it feels lop-sided if I only did one or two after that. But on special occasions I put a date. I've been kind of wondering what will become of my journals, I do have some intended to be passed on (and those are read as if I am behind the person saying things, "What do you think of my outfit? Well this style was all the rage at this point in time!"), but with my PTSD, I don't know that I want people to see what my mind was like and judge me based off drawings and babbles intended to simply clear my head. So my personal private journals are in the present and written that was as well.
seaivy
May. 28th, 2014 02:43 am (UTC)
I write/draw/paint every day
my journal is my plan book - I explore what i want - for the day - the lunation - the season
it is also a record - of my purchases, my activities
and it is an out let for my moods
i want my journals to survive because I know how valuable the journals of ordinary people are to historians.
I haven't decided how to provide for that.
savannahjan
May. 28th, 2014 03:58 am (UTC)
It is definitely both for me. Though, I'd say I do more of chronicling my life than thinking things through. But sometimes, thoughts strike me, and I write on them for a long while.

I typically write to "you," but interestingly enough, that "you," is the journal, in my mind. I say, "I can't remember if I told you this, but..."
ellison
May. 31st, 2014 07:44 am (UTC)
I do that all the time. I always write TO my journal, the book itself. I often name them, too, usually based off something about them, but they're not always that great. One had music notes, so I called her Musica, and another was green, so I called it Sage, stuff like that.
sadeyedartist
May. 28th, 2014 05:33 am (UTC)
Reading what you thought or HOW you thought at a particular time in your development/life may prove to be its own kind of record, even if it makes sense only to you. The connection you have between writing and thinking can't help but record your evolution of thought. Sometimes I'll go back to a journal to look up a fact (what the heck was I doing in June, 2011?) and be startled by thoughts from that time that have become relevant again or that have drastically changed. It has been a huge help therapeutically, because it takes me back into my mind as it was during various pieces of time.
My thinking journals and recording journals are not necessarily the same, but one informs the other.
You say you want a record; why not start simple? Cloudy today, I'm wearing denim shorts and my favorite pink shirt. It's breakfast time, my cat is licking milk from the table and I feel splendid/horrible/indifferent/outraged because... Short statements that matter to you will bring you back to that point in time; it doesn't have to be done someone else's way. One method I've seen is taking a calendar and simply writing in one word or statement for the day: a summary or the best moment. It's not time consuming and calendars help format clearly when things happen. You could also have repeated prompts at the top of each page:
Age:
Date:
Mood today:
Fitness goal:
Important people/events in my life:
Currently reading/watching/listening to/wearing:
Favorite color/sandwich/new discovery/blogger/condiment--whatever interests you !! What are your top five? Have fun. If you were twelve, how would you write a note to a friend? (I learned to write by writing letters.) see what you think.
arliss
May. 28th, 2014 07:49 am (UTC)
It's been a while since I commented here, but this topic intrigues me.

My journal is definitely a chronicle, and I go out of my way to record political or sociological events, trends, laws, the climate and feeling surrounding those things, and my own reactions and feelings. But my journal also recieves those emotions and reactions I can't share with another person. I can be completely honest--or I can go over the top ranting, and get it out of my system. I use my journal to work things through, to figure out cause and effect, and how to manage my input, my behavior, to change other people's responses, and affect an outcome closer to what I want.

I make a point of pulling a volume (it's all one journal, in different notebooks) from a year, five years ago, and at random. What I've been shocked and dismayed to discover is that patterns in my life repeat themselves--*I* repeat them. I wasn't aware that was happening, so it was enlightening to see it on the page. And then I could be more aware of addressing it, and stopping that cycle of victimhood and self-blame. I'm still working at it, but according to my journal, I'm getting better.
pinska
May. 30th, 2014 12:49 am (UTC)
Oh, yes. The patterns definitely repeat until you break them. I've noticed this for me, too.
(Deleted comment)
crookedfingers
May. 28th, 2014 04:34 pm (UTC)
the now
When I write in my diary I am writing about my existence at that moment in Time. I am not writing for the future or for someone to read my diaries after I am dead and gone. I have received notice from our children that they have no interest in reading my diaries after I am gone to heaven/new creation. I told our second son to burn my diaries when I am dead. I usually write around 1000 pages a year so it would be mind numbing for anyone to sit down and read right now 37 years of diaries of my day to day existence. I write because it is how I kill time.

I have mentioned in the Past here that I did destroyed my diaries from 1968 till 1977 which was dumb. I tell folks never destroy your diaries even if they contain stuff that you do not want to read again.

I should add that several years ago I wrote down all my memories from childhood till the birth of our first child in 1981. I made a book for that record of memories. I also many years ago wrote a novel/fictional account of my youth before I got married.



Edited at 2014-05-28 04:51 pm (UTC)
pinska
May. 30th, 2014 12:48 am (UTC)
I write for now, but now that I have amassed so many completed journals, I appreciate the whole as a record of my life. I don't do the "today I did this" type of entry, but I definitely catch the highlights (and lowlights) of my life. If something major happens (newsworthy), I'll try to include something about that. Definitely written for the current, though, just to work through things.
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