I’ve spoken to a few groups recently about the importance of journaling not only as a means to organizing thoughts, but as a family treasure. Several years ago, my sister-in-law passed away. One of the most cherished things she left behind was her journal. We all enjoyed flipping through the pages, seeing her handwriting and getting inside her head. It’s also like having a conversation with her.
Paper doesn’t forget.
Journaling isn’t just about the ‘Dear Diary’ level of writing. Journaling is, on every level, a conversation. If you are interested in writing for your children and grandchildren, much like Graypay does in Unforgettable Roads, here are a few pointers:
1. Relax. It’s just a notebook and a pen.
2. Don’t over spend. It’s not because of the leather bound beauty of a $50.00 journal that it will be treasured. It’s all to do with the words within.
3. Relax. I sense your shoulders tensing.
4. Writing in a journal takes three things: Pen, Paper, and Commitment.
5. Keep the journal visible. You will be more likely to commit to writing if you see it.
6. Set a time each day (10 minutes is enough) to write.
7. You don’t have to be a writer to write in a journal. Begin with a prayer to be honest and just write how you talk. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. It’s the story, the memory and the lesson that are important.
What do you write about, you ask?
1. What’s the earliest memory you have?
2. Describe your parents.
3. What did your bedroom look like when you were 16?
4. Who was your best friend in second grade? In high school?
5. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did that happen?
6. How did you meet your spouse?
7. What did your parents think of your spouse the first time they met?
8. What was/is your favorite holiday tradition?
9. Did you have any pets growing up? If you have pictures of them, add it to your journal.
10. Looking back over your life, what was your best day? Can’t pick one? Write about them all over the next few days.
11. A little negative, but important: what was your worst day?
12. Did you play a musical instrument? If not, what did you want to learn to play?
13. What are the lyrics to your favorite song?
14. Who was the first person you ever danced with? (parents not included!)
15. First kiss?
16. Wedding day? When, where, what you wore…add a picture.
17. The first funeral you ever attended…who was it?
18. Share an embarrassing moment.
19. Write about a valuable lesson you learned the hard way.
20. What books have you read that you think other should read?
21. Favorite movies?
22. What stories do you wish you had from your parents? Write that version of your own life.
Years ago, I met a mom who had five sons. Instead of spending the evening in front of the TV, she, with the help of her family, recorded the day’s events in a journal. I thought that was a good idea. I’ll admit, even as a writer, I never made that a daily event and oh! how I regret that.
It’s not too late. Start writing now.