The importance of keeping a journal

I’m not good at keeping track of things. Nor am I good at saving my stuff. I’m not a hoarder, I’m a purger. But somehow, after countless moves and new cities and well, life in general, I still have all of my childhood journals.

Well, not all. There are a few that disappeared along the way (probably for the the better), but I still have 17 of them document my transformation from a dorky sixth grader to crazy-ass teenager to dorky adulthood.  You may have seen some on Mortification  Mondays (some being more mortifying than others) or even the stuff I showcase on Bad Poetry Friday.

I don’t know who bought me my first journal nor why I started keeping one. Certainly I had nothing to say except about what boy I liked, but I’d like to thank Past Danielle for doing that. Why? Because rereading these embarrassing crushes and confessions brings me back to my young adult self. I can easily tap into that teen angst and despair just by rereading an entry. I can either cry tears of laughter (the underwear story) or remember a painful memory I had managed to bury (a future post).  They provide inspiration and motivation.

A lot of writers, particularly YA, kept journals. I think the most vocal about it has been Meg Cabot who went on the create the crazy popular Princess Diaries. Perhaps the secret to her prolific career is right there in those middle school notebooks.

If you didn’t keep a journal as a teen, you’re not screwed. There’s still time to keep one now. Or to go back and write down memories and feelings because you never know when they might come in handy. These days I don’t keep a journal like I used to. Twitter and Facebook had replaced that need to document mundane details on paper, but I still carry one around now. I use to write  down ideas or bits of dialogue that might come in handy, or books to read or my to-do list. Each new manuscript has a book that corresponds to what my life was like at that time of writing it. It’s a great resource even if the only person who can decipher anything in it is me.

Did you keep a journal as a teen?

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