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Thoughts On Journaling - Body by Henson, brain by Seuss. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kelly J. Cooper

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Thoughts On Journaling [Jun. 30th, 2009|12:11 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
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This started out life as a comment in a locked journal, but I think I want to talk about it more... (and I've edited it quite a bit).

I've never been a regular diary keeper, and I engaged in LJ rather reluctantly. So there's not much left from my youth to burn or keep - no decision necessary.

BUT, as soon as I was online (1989) I became a compulsive emailer and I've kept just about all of those emails. I don't reread them, but I'm loathe to delete them.

I don't think of LJ as a diary so much as I treat it the same way I used to treat mailing lists (especially void). Back then, I'd write out a thought, and a bunch of related stuff would come out too, and ultimately, while working through it, attempting to articulate it, I'd manage to get a bunch of squishy stuff more settled in my mind.

I still do this, but now I do it on my LJ. Although, if I know it's gonna be wicked long in advance, I'll do it in a Word file so a network blip won't eat it. (Where, fairly often, these sorts of files never leave my computer and don't end up getting posted here.) A couple years ago I created a folder on my computer called "Diary," which gets my draft posts, dumps of my Twitter feed, some files related to my ancestry, and anything I write for myself where I'm thinking through something.

I used to keep work notes regularly in a legal pad with a spiral bound top (so it didn't matter that I was left-handed). Every time I was in a meeting or on the phone, I'd slap a date on the top and start taking notes. I used the left column to annotate action items of mine. I stuffed papers in the back until they got filed with the rest of the project.

Once laid off, I had one that did multi-duty, for clients, for projects, and for garden club. Finally, I moved Garden Club into its own small notebook. My last big IT work project got its own notebook too. Which left me with a gap for where to record voicemails and brief side projects and web sites I wanted to visit and author names, etc. About six months ago, I started carrying around a half-size notebook (well, it's 6.5" x 9.5") and it's evolved into a diary of sorts.

And, when I started traveling (sometime after hooking up with the BF; around 2003, I think), I started keeping trip diaries. I have all of those and I treasure them. I definitely reread those.

I've noticed that, as I get older and have more and more experiences, I really enjoy being able to go back and figure out when something happened, based on when I wrote about it. Because my brain is SO full of memories as well as stuff I've learned, want to learn, am in the process of learning, and a ton of random miscellany, I can't always figure out when something happened or in which milieu. I have desperately wished that I HAD kept a diary when younger so that I could figure some stuff out that's not clear in retrospect. Even some college things are fading with time.

I envy those who have them. I wouldn't burn 'em. But then, I'm a packrat.

One book that helped me relax about journaling and also think about it in a more concrete way was Samara O'Shea's NOTE TO SELF. My favorite thing she said, which felt like it gave me permission to interpret journaling however the hell I want to, was that if you keep a journal (or diary or whatever you want to call it), you don't HAVE to write in it every day. You can just write in it when you feel like it. Reframing it that way, I look forward to writing in it when I feel like I have a bunch of stuff I want to tell the notebook, who's kind of a friend now.

[User Picture]From: muffyjo
2009-06-30 12:38 am (UTC)
It's your way of talking to yourself. Sounds like you're figuring out how to make it work best for you. Very cool.
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[User Picture]From: catness
2009-06-30 12:46 am (UTC)

Pack Rats Anonymous

:) I like this post.

When I was younger I kept a diary but I was obsessed with keeping it *neat*. That was a huge burden for me, sort of like maintaining the HEY list while altered. ;) Fortunately, computers solved my neatness issue. Unfortunately, I do so many other things with computers that journals never get any attention.

Except for one period in about 1981, all my diary entries have *exactly* *the* *same* writing style since childhood, which I find kind of bizarre. In 1981, though, I was bat shit crazy. And (perhaps not coincidentally) not as OCD about lining up my paragraphs.

Right now I'm scanning and tossing all my old paper stuff, but I haven't yet decided on whether or not to scan the childhood things. They're in a crate on the top shelf over my computer, and I just don't know if it's worth saving. But I really do need to get rid of the stacks of little notebooks, in one way or another.
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