What to Write in a Journal

October 11, 2021  - by 
Man figuring out what to write in a journal.

So you’ve decided to keep a journal—but you wonder what sort of things you should write about. After all, how can you fit everything you want you and your posterity to remember into so few pages?

Don’t worry—and remember that, first and foremost, your journal is whatever you want it to be. That means it can have as much or as little information as you want it to! If you’re still looking for places to start, consider the following suggestions.

Topics to Write about in a Journal  

As you get started, consider some well-known published journals and diaries, such as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl; such examples may help you think about what you want to record.

Girl pondering what to write in her journal.

You might also think about what you wish your ancestors had recorded. Do you wonder what they thought about current events, who they socialized with, or what their favorite entertainment or music was? Even something as simple as what their favorite food was, what the weather was like, and how much everyday things cost can be interesting for future generations.

Keep a record of the main events in your life: family, school, work, and so on. Such a record will help not only you remember important dates, but your descendants will thank you as they learn about their family heritage.

Making Your Journal More Personalized 

In addition to recording main events from your life, consider sharing your day-to-day activities. For example, my paternal grandmother kept a short, 6-month journal that detailed her daily activities during the 1930s. One of my favorite entries in her journal says, “Great big washing! Nice day. … Picked flowers on the river bank after school.” Sadly, my grandmother died just a few years later, at a young age. This diary gives insight into who she was and what her life was like in a way I would otherwise never know.

Jotting down a few thoughts in a journal.

Write about your struggles, frustrations, sorrows, and triumphs. Rereading your journals can be a source of comfort and reassurance to you when you are facing trials and can see how you overcame past hurdles.

Record uplifting thoughts and quotes that inspire you, both to remember them and to save them for others. If you are religious, record spiritual experiences you have had in your life.

Share some of the funny, embarrassing moments that happen along with the learning and growing episodes that make up your life’s journey.

How to Start Journaling 

You might ask, “But how do I start?” There are several ways to journal, but the important thing is to begin.

Set aside a few minutes every day to summarize events that happened. Don’t whitewash your experiences or worry about what others may think. Keep a balance of both the good things that happen as well as the challenging experiences.

Young girl writes in her diary.

Make your journal personal to what feels right for you. Because this is the story of you and your life, you may decide to share portions of it with family members. Or you may feel like burying some sensitive entries under your mattress! The important thing is to record your life’s experiences and learn from them.

Consider scanning and uploading your journals to FamilySearch Memories to preserve them for future generations—or, if you prefer, use it directly as an online journal to record your thoughts.

Remember what Anne Frank once wrote about keeping a journal: “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” (Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, p. 177)

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Comments

  1. A good place to keep your journal is in the Memory Section of your Person page in FamilySearch. And those events that include other people can be cross referenced to their person pages.

  2. I wonder how many who read the Book of Mormon when they were young began their first journal with “I _____ _____ (name), having been born of goodly parents …” That book inspired a lot of people, especially after President Spencer Kimball encouraged us all to begin writing a journal.

    I’ve enjoyed sharing my journaling experiences with friends and coworkers. While reading some old journals of theirs, I noticed a lot of entries referred to people, places, and events that only the writer or their immediate family would have known. I reasoned that, if my journals were ever read by generations yet unborn, they might appreciate more detail. When I wrote about people in my journal I began mentioning how they are related. Hopefully it will future readers.

  3. My aunt burned all of hers before she died. She said they were too personal. It may not be a bad idea to keep two journals. One for Public consumption and one you use for therapy.