The Art of Keeping a Journal – Not a Livejournal, mind you

I don’t know about you, but I love to rant about my life. I am fully aware that studies show that venting to others does not actually help, but who really listens to those studies? Generally the victim of my violent musings is whoever happens to be physically closest to me at the time the urge strikes. Towards the beginning of last semester, this was typically one (or all) of my suitemates. At the end of each day, I would return to my suite and immediately start unloading. At first, my friends seemed willing to listen, but after awhile I noticed the “Oh God, here she goes again” look on their faces as soon as I arrived.

As much as I love to vent, I felt bad. I realized I didn’t want to be that Debbie Downer whose presence everyone puts up with, and whose thoughts everyone rarely listens to. So what did I do? I bought a journal. I had never before had a successful journaling experience, always quitting after a few days, but this was going to work, damn it. And at first, it was glorious. I wrote all about my day in my journal, both good and bad (but let’s be real, mostly bad). I wrote every night before I went to sleep and tried my best to limit my venting to an inanimate object.

After a few months of this, I felt my journal reacting to me the same way my friends did. Yes, I realize that my journal can’t actually react to me and that the pages within don’t actually care what I write on them. But I realized that I cared about what I wrote, and I wanted it to be filled with more happy memories than bad. In 10 years, I won’t care that a certain person irritated me about something petty on October 23, 2011.

So now I write about happy things- this hasn’t been too hard to keep up with over winter break, but I’m sure it will be more challenging once the semester kicks into full gear. Regardless, I think not emphasizing the tiny, inconsequential negative events of day to day life really helps when it comes to maintaining a positive mood and outlook (turns out those annoying studies just might be right).

Sometimes I’m just not motivated to write every day, and that’s okay- skipping days of journaling is not a punishable offense, and the Journal Police will not barge through your door and force you to write. But if you feel up to it, I would definitely recommend giving it a committed try. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it, and if you’re a chronic unloader like me, your friends with thank you too!

-Olivia LeClair

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This is the official blog of the Bentley University Writing Center staff.
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