Re-Energize Your
Journal Writing
Michael Boyter


Some write journals and diaries for the therapeutic value of it.  Admittedly, there is value in this exercise, but I have always written a journal with a sense of historical perspective.  When I write, I envision my grandchildren and their children reading about me and the era in which I lived. 

I highly encourage you to expand what you may currently be doing with your journal.  As journal-keepers aren't we always looking for something more to write about?  What you write today may be the only record of your current families' existence.  Think about it!

Write What You Think and Believe

You're likely familiar with the cliché, "Don't discuss religion or politics with others."  That might be a good idea but not when you are talking about your journal.  You wouldn't shy away from discussing such matters to your children today so why hold back your hard-earned wisdom, opinions and knowledge from your family's future generations?  This is your chance to be, perhaps, more honest about what you believe in than you ever have.  Don't miss it!

Write about and for Your Children

Your journal can easily become very self-centered.  That's not bad, but don't miss the opportunity to keep a record of your children as they grow up. Include important dates like "first tooth " and "first step."  Write about their teenage and adult years from your perspective.

Your children will appreciate reading about themselves once they reach adulthood.  Encouraging your children to keep a journal is highly recommended but nothing can substitute for your view on their early lives.

Write about the World around You 

Given a choice, would you prefer to read about history as lived by your great-grandparent or from a stale encyclopedia?  Instead of reading a bland page or two about The Great Depression, an old family journal would reveal the struggles that your family went through and include how they survived and coped.

Instead of generically learning of the invention of the automobile from a textbook, you could perhaps relive the thrill your relatives experienced as they took their first ride.  All of this is possible when historical happenings are included in journals. 

If you are one of those who believes that "Well, yes the invention of the car was exciting but what have I to write today that can compare to that?"  Here are some things that I believe will be of huge interest to future generations.  If you agree, write about them.

· Write about your first computer
· What was your early impression of the Internet?
· What was your first purchase online?
· Write about the first time that you saw the space shuttle blast off.
· Man walking on the moon

If you really think about it, you could make a huge list of historical happenings and tell of your thoughts and how they affected the family.

For those days when you can't think of what to write or if you just want something different to write about, print out the news headlines from your favorite web portal such as Yahoo or even  Jot down your "take" on the day's happenings.  It doesn't matter whether the news is about international things or Hollywood.  If a particular news story doesn't interest you, simply write "this doesn't interest me" and go on to the next headline.  Even a no comment tells something about you.

If you use journaling software, you may even want to copy and past whole articles on occasions and include it in your journal.

Name Dropping 

Like most, you likely associate this with someone who likes to show off or brag, but "name dropping" in your journal is very important.  The type of name dropping that I refer to here is that of extended family members.  Do not forget to mention brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents etc, especially as they interact with you. 

For example, "Today I spoke on the phone with my brother Jeff."  Maybe mention a little about what you spoke about and don't forget to  mention his wife and kids and a little bit about them.  If your brother is not much of a writer, the things you include in your journal may be the only bit of information that his descendants may know of him.  Maybe you think that this is a little overboard but, to be sure, hundreds of indirectly related relatives will someday be thankful to you.

Family Stories and Traditions

Are there any enjoyable family stories and traditions that you wish to perpetuate and have carried on?  Of course there are!  So don't forget to include all of those stories in your journal.  The treasured family stories that you grew up hearing just might be told for hundreds and hundreds of years to come, but only if you act now to preserve them.  Get with other family members so that they can help you recall those that you don't remember.

A journaler's work is never done.  There is always something else to write and there are endless stories to tell.  It's a good thing that we enjoy it so much, isn't it?

Michael Boyter is the author of several eBooks and articles on life story writing and journal writing.  Michael lives in Wasilla, Alaska with his wife and six children.  Visit


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