Personal Journaling

Write Your Thoughts

Famous Journals

Previously I wrote about journals as a source of historical information and how we could use our own journals to leave valuable stories behind. We will not necessarily do this for the world but as a legacy for the people we love. But journals can provide good insights for the world. In light of this, here are a few journals/diaries that told us something about the time in which they were written and hold important lessons for us today.

The most famous one that jumps to mind is the diary of Anne Frank. She was born in 1929 and died in 1945. Her diary chronicles her life in hiding from the Nazis and so provides a look into her innermost thoughts, the atrocities of her day to day living, her fears and her hopes. Anne Frank wrote this diary as a teenager but today she is perhaps one of the most discussed victims of the Holocaust.

Less famous but no less important is the diary of Michael Shiner. Mr. Shiner worked at the Washington Navy Yard of Columbia between 1813 and 1869. His writings give an account of his time working for the Navy Yard, the abduction of his family by Virginia slave traders and his general day to day life. This diary is important because Michael Shiner was an African American who is writing his own story at a time when this was extremely uncommon.

Another atypical person who left a journal behind is Adam F. Plummer. He kept a journal from 1841 until his death in 1905. As a slave, Adam Plummer was special because he learned to read and write. He used his diary to write about the harsh conditions of slavery and to keep a record of his jobs and wages.

All of these diaries are special because we have first hand information of periods in history that we have perhaps read about but not from this position. An immediate account from the victim’s or the enslaved viewpoint is invaluable. In the case of the enslaved, they were never supposed to write much less to have a history.

We all have the luxury of reading and writing….So let’s write!

Remember there is nothing like words in black and white to help you see where you are and where you are going.

Sheryl Keen
Author “Journal According to John.”


February 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crisis Journaling

As I have noted before, journaling can take place at any time even if there is no crisis. But devastating experiences do provide a good opportunity to write. What is seen as a crisis is different for everybody. A death or debt (sometimes they feel the same since debt can be the death of your financial freedom), job loss, illness, divorce or separation could be considered a crisis. If you are experiencing any of these things, it may be time to put pen to paper.

Writing things down mean that you have confronted the issues and that in a way, you have released them. You may or may not have clear feelings on the crisis that you are experiencing but as you write clarity will come. This is a part of the reason people journal, to gain insight and clarity.

Sometimes the crisis seems daunting and insurmountable. Journaling offers you the opportunity to break the problem down piece by piece. The crisis does not go away because you broke it down but it certainly gives you different angles to work with. You can assess and reassess the crisis especially with reflection. It’s possible that you will discover your problem may be long term or short term and this may determine how you address the crisis.

We can’t always avoid crisis but we can decide how we will handle it. Regular journaling can help us to navigate through rough times and hopefully gives us a little peace of mind.

Remember there is nothing like words in black and white to help you see where you are and where you are going.

Sheryl Keen
Author “Journal According to John.”

February 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brainstorm Journaling

A journal can be used for brainstorming especially if you are in a creative area and you are having writer’s block or lack inspiration. If you are an artist or a writer feel free to let your ideas flow in a journal. You can come up with a thousand ideas and then reject or choose to use the ideas that work best for you. We have all brainstormed in a group where some of our ideas have been discarded even though we thought they were great ones. Brainstorming in your own journal means that you have autonomy over your own ideas.


As an artist you may want to map out and write down the colors that you will be using on your next work of art. Also, if your journal is big enough, you can make sketches and compositions of your next masterpiece. You can also use this process to revive a project that you have abandoned for whatever reason. The ideas that you come up with can inject new life into your project.


Even if you are not in a creative area, you can still use a journal to brainstorm. You may be attending a meeting where ideas will be discussed or you may be a part of a group working on a particular project. You can stay ahead of the game by brainstorming in your own journal so that when you meet as a group, you already have a wealth of ideas to share. Also, you would have given thought to the pros and cons of these ideas, using your strongest ones to make valid points.


In the end you will compare and contrast the new ideas, analyze them and choose to use or lose some of them.


Remember there is nothing like words in black and white to help you see where you are and where you are going.


Sheryl Keen

Author “Journal According to John.”



February 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflecting On What We Have Written

After journaling for a while, it may be time to reflect on what we have written. This will be especially true if we are trying to work out something that is difficult or challenging.


Sometimes we may be surprised to see how our views have changed on a particular issue; how much progress we have made; and possibly all the things we have accomplished.


Reflection is important because we will see the disposition of our minds and we can take even more effective action if necessary.


Remember there is nothing like words in black and white to help you see where you are and where you are going.


Sheryl Keen

Author “Journal According to John.”

February 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment