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6 Ways to Make Your Journaling More Meaningful

By: Kristen Clark

I love journaling. In fact, I started journaling when I was 12 years old and didn’t miss a single day until I got married. That means I journaled for 12 years straight – every single day.

I journaled everything and anything. I wrote about my most intimate thoughts, to what I did that day, to who my latest crush was.

Shortly after I married Zack, I thought it would be fun to look back through my journals with him and read all of the entries that he was mentioned in. I traced it back to the year 2006, when I first met him as a teenage girl.

Reading those early entries was comical as I peered back into my teenage thoughts and emotions.

As I scanned the pages of my many journals, I noticed one consistent theme – guys. My early journals are filled with pages and pages of “crush drama” and the latest “who likes who” scoops.

Some sections look more like a soap opera drama than anything else.

Looking back on my journals has helped me remember what it’s like to be a young teenage single girl.

In some ways, I wish I could go back in time and give my younger self some good advice!

Since I’m happily married to Zack now, I honestly wish I hadn’t wasted so much time, thought, emotion, and energy journaling about all those “crushes.” I regret spending so much time journaling “soap operas” instead of writing down more meaningful things.

If you’re a “journaler” or diary keeper, I have some words of advice for you. Don’t let your journal turn into a soap opera like mine did. Choose to write more meaningful things.

For all of my fellow writers out there, here are 6 ways to make your journals more meaningful this year.

1. Write about things you will still care about in 5 years.

2. Write down one thing you’re grateful for everyday.

3. Write about what God is teaching you and how you’re overcoming struggles.

4. Write about your family and the memories you’ll want to share with your kids some day.

5. Write prayers to your future husband instead of logging the latest soap opera drama.

6. Don’t write down things that you would be ashamed of others to read if you suddenly died.

There’s a lot more I could add to that list, but that’ll do for now.

I am a huge fan of keeping a journal and think there is a lot of benefit in writing down our thoughts, prayers, memories, and ideas. However, I know first hand how meaningless and pointless journaling can become if we’re not intentional.

I want to challenge you to be intentional with your journaling this year.

Write about things in a way that future generations would be inspired and encouraged by. Write about things that will draw your future children closer to God and His word.

Even though journals are very private things, choose to write in a way that brings glory and honor to God. Even though others may not see your journal, God sees every page.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

And as one of my favorite Psalms says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

May the words that we write and pages that we fill be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.

Now I want to hear from you!

  • Do you journal or keep a diary? If so, what do you write about?
  • In what ways have you fallen prey to writing “soap opera” dramas like me?
  • How can you be more intentional with your journaling this year?

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6 ways make journaling more meaningful

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  • Sandra

    Lovely post!

    I have kept a diary for years and years. And like you, I wrote everything down. Especially in my early teen years. Later on, I think the last three years, I was writing down stuff that matters to me: like how I hope to simplefy my life, how I think about marriage and stuff like that. A lot of questions where asked in my diary.

    A few weeks ago, I started to tidy up the boxes I get upstairs, at the attick. I found lots and lots of diaries. I read few fragments and had the same thoughts you had: is this what I wrote when I was 13 – 15 – 18 years old? Oh my! I didn’t want to keep it, so I threw all my diaries away. Yes, all of them. Like you say: I don’t want my future kids to read all the rubbish I wrote in my younger years.

    I still love to write down my thoughts. But I desided – when I saw all those wasted diaries – to make this one different from the rest. I want to write beautiful Bible passages in it, my thoughts about the future, prayers to God! I want to write down lessons I’ve learned. And I decided to not write about any young man until I am engaged or married (except maybe for prayers, like you said).

    In the future, when I hope to have children, and one of them wants to journal, I will tell them my thoughts about it and tell them also about this list. Thank you for sharing!

    Greetings from the Netherlands,
    Sandra

    PS. Now I am curious: what did your husband think about all the things you wrote down? If you don’t want to tell, I understand! :o)

  • I love journalling! When I was little I mostly wrote about whatever I had been doing, but in the last few years I’ve re-evaluated the purpose for keeping a journal, and then tried to be more intentional with my writing. Now I like to record things I’m learning, dreams, goals, and just my musings. Sometimes I include quotes, song lyrics, or Bible verses.

    • Clare

      Great idea!

  • Leanne

    Is it all right to tell God whatever is on your mind in your journal? Especially with guy problems as well as other personal things that I might not be able to tell others in confidentiality? Sometimes I do that and He gives me a new perspective on the challenge I am facing… I try to keep my “journal ranting” to a minimum but directing those problems to God… What do you think?

    • Jesusfreak17

      I think there’s a balance. You need to tell God how you are and be completely honest. Even if it’s about boys. But put meaning back into it, surrender those emotions to God. I think part of Kristen’s point is that she was writing about other people who were dating around her, so it wasn’t just her own feelings. That is wise to avoid doing. But make the overall entry about God, not you or a guy or an emotion.
      By the way I’m totally preaching to myself here too. This is WAY easier said then done!

  • This is such a great post! I’m a big journal keeper (though that’s been harder to keep up when I get really busy), but I can definitely say that I should probably burn my first journal. Ten-year-old me didn’t know a thing about discretion then. 🙂 What you talked about are things I’ve been learning and trying to keep in mind as I journal. Thanks for writing this!

  • Leisha

    From a Christian perspective, why might jouranling be a good habit to do?

    • Kaitlyn Neese

      I personally think that it’s a good habit that way you’re not as tempted to run your mouth and say hurtful things to people (I say this from experience). I know that when you put your feelings down on paper, it’s must easier to know how God will help you. When I write things down, I re-read what I write and sometimes, I remember a Bible verse to go with what I wrote down.
      It really helps to know how God is working in your life, and what He’s doing through you for other people.

  • Krizza

    I love this! Thank you for your reminders. I will certainly follow those 6 ways. ☺

  • Mikayla Pascale Julien

    I disagree, when I journal I write everything I feel like writing. In all areas of my life I need to censor myself, why must I censor my thoughts also ?

    • Leanne

      Proverbs 4:23
      Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

      2 Corinthians 10:5
      We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

      Philippians 4:8
      Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

    • Clare

      Hm. Interesting take on it. I have mixed feelings about this post now. :S

  • baylee

    This is such a good post! I look back on my journals (I started in 3rd grade) and from about 9-12 I journaled about drama and who my latest crush was. Thankfully I came to realize that it probably wasn’t building me up in a way that constructive journaling could have.
    I’ve really purposed this year to make every aspect of my life a facet for which I can glorify God through. I hadn’t considered journaling before but now that you mention it, I can totally see how it can be used in unhealthy and meaningless ways.
    Thanks so much for the post!

  • ThePoeticMusician

    I’m 21, and work full time and go to school full time. So my writing time is, needless to say, extremely limited. However, I find writing to be not only very relaxing, but also a way to tie my thoughts together and focus on what’s really important in life. I have two journals–one is a typical journal, and the other is a quote/prayer journal. I write short prayers and quotes from men and women of faith in that one. The first one is simply my daily ramblings…centered mostly on what God is doing in my life at the moment. Also included in that one is reflection on a passage I might be reading, or a book I’m studying. I also write letters to my future husband and include those in my daily journal.

  • Jade

    It seems a lot of girls love to journal! It seems to me that it’s definitely a more girly thing, and girls have a tendency to write too much “soap opera” stuff. I love to journal, or write anything!, so thanks for this reminder!

  • Clare

    Once I got the email for this new post, I knew that I wanted to read it. I knew that because I keep a diary and I really love that diary. I have been writing in it for over 3 years. I am ashamed to say that I used to fill it with all of these fantasies about my latest crush. All of the silly little dreams about our future and the ways we would live. I have looked back on that writing several times I just wish that I could tear it all out and burn it. However, these days I write more about what has happened in my day and things that I have discovered about myself. I have this habit of writing about the location of my dog (as seen in my profile picture). I have no idea why I thought to start up that habit but I write it almost every single time I write. I always seem to talk about dilemmas in my life and the current position of my feelings. I really wish I had more spice to add to my diary but I never can think of anything “good” and “worthwhile”.

    Writing down song quotes and Bible verses is a great idea. I will definitely take that to heart. Thank you for the post!

  • Rachel

    What about writing things that you are struggling with in your journal? I tend to write what I am struggling with and ask God for help. Is that a bad idea to write concerning things that you are not proud of or anything but need to get off your back?

  • Maya Jayne

    Great tips…especially the part about only writing what you wouldn’t mind other people reading someday! Journals can be special and personal, but if you are writing things you could potentially be ashamed of someday, you’re probably not filling your heart and mind with the right things. I’m going to keep all of these tips in mind as I journal into this new year!

  • Mary

    The way I see it, a diary is A DIARY not everything needs to be purposeful…its just fun! I’m 32 and I pull out my teenage diaries and read them to my friends, they’re HILARIOUS!!!! I mean, I don’t think you be writing inappropriate thoughts in them but mine are filled with crushes and all my drama…but I was a good girl so its just funny stuff!!! But its good to look back on…I have NO REGRETS writing in those diaries!!! :)))

  • Celestria

    Great tips. I’ve been keeping a journal for years and I have a bad habit of writing down all my complaints and anger when someone[younger sibling] makes me mad or someone treats me unfairly. I’d rather my journals be more positive.

  • Sydney

    I have also recently learned this lesson! I have now turned my journal into a prayer journal. I only write my prayers (feelings get mixed in too), but it mainly my prayers and conversations with God. It has helped me connect with him more and is not like my old soap opera diaries! haha

  • Catherine D

    I literally just finished my latest journal entry when I got the email notification about this article. I usually write about what I did during the day but sometimes it gets boring and feels pointless, especially if I haven’t done anything exciting/ productive that day so your journaling tips and suggestions came at a very good time!!

  • Leah

    I always start a journal at the beginning of each year, but I can never stick to it day by day. I get lazy I guess. How do you keep your motivation?

    • Shanae B

      You can write in a journal or diary every day, but you don’t have to write in it every single day. There’s nothing wrong with letting a few days, a week or more pass between entry’s! Not everyone is a die hard writer! 🙂

    • Marietta

      I remember when I was younger I had trouble because I always thought I had to explain everything in detail and it became so much of a hassle. I realized writing of the day of what you were feeling as things were happening or what you were thinking makes you remember the details even better, even if they weren’t specifically written out. And sometimes if I know there’s small details I want to remember but don’t want to have to explain it all I just write one or two words which would jog my memory… this helped for me – it became more of a joy than a duty

  • Girlady Bouvier

    When I was a teenager, my diary entries consisted on my school whereabouts, celeb crushes, teenage struggles. Nowadays I use journaling as a mindfulness mechanism, it’s a tool to get my thoughts sorted out, because sometimes I don’t even know what’s going on in my mind until I can actually look at it. Some of my writing begin with ‘God why is this happening?’ and ends with ‘Ok God, I know You know better’.

    • Ruth Meyer

      I feel the same way, about using my journal to sort through my thoughts. It’s like when you read through Psalms, and often the psalmist starts writing in a really depressed and despairing tone, but by the end of the chapter his eyes are on the Lord again, and his walk with God all the sweeter and deeper. It’s good to work through things. I used to write prayers into my journal, but I don’t do that as much now.

      • Marietta

        Wow never thought of it like the psalms but its so true! And I wish I could explain the feeling inside when finding out others too have their thoughts sorted out when writing! Thanks 🙂

  • Miss Margaret Ann

    Thanks so much for the encouragement! It definitely seems like it’s a good idea not to spend all your time journaling about useless things. Yet, there’s also the need of journaling things like crushes or silly arguments for therapy. Journaling can help you process it. The fine line you have to walk is obsessively writing about the same things rather than just writing about what you are struggling with for therapy. Thanks for the great post! <3

  • Alivia

    I have always tried to keep a journal/diary but I could never think of anything to write. I hated writing my feelings that would change in 5 minutes. It seemed so insignificant. Recently I have been keeping a “bible” diary where I copy a verse then write what I think it means and how it applies to my life. I find it much more fulfilling and easier to make a habit.

    • Brittany

      that’s cool!

  • Shanae B

    When journaling it’s too easy to forget that someone else could read it one day down the road. It’s also easy to forget that God knows and sees ‘everything’ as well. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Saira Esther Thomas

    I love doing journal entry that it helps me to connect with God. The valuable lessons I had learned so far, I kept them in my journal and read it to myself to encourage me and challenge me to grow spiritually. When growing spiritually first, it helps you with physical, mental,and emotional growth of your life.

  • Hm good thoughts! I love to journal as well, but don’t do it nearly as often as every day 😛 I’ll have to keep some of these tips in mind though!

  • Madison Hoadley

    Hi! Love this and I’m going to definitely implement these tips into constantly journaling. However, I don’t know if I agree about the part about not writing something that your family would be ashamed of if you died. One, if we can’t write the most hurtful and deepest parts of our lives in our journal, where can we really get those thoughts out? Jesus can redeem all of these things and I would hope that my family would know I wasn’t perfect during my time here on earth. Two, I think that writing those kind of things down will allow us to look back and see how the Lord has worked on those things in our lives. I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts! 🙂

    • Daisy R.

      I love your perspective! Sometimes I feel like I can’t jot down my hurt or frustration because I feel like if someone ever read what I wrote, they’d be ashamed. But I like how you said one day we can reread our entries and see “how the Lord has worked on those things in our lives.”

    • Ruth Meyer

      I try to be careful what I write, because I never want to close the door on a possibility to forgive someone. This would apply to being hurt by someone, or by something that happened. If I’m frustrated for a good reason (there is such thing as righteous indignation), then yes, I might write about that. I tend to focus mainly on positive things in my journals. Only in recent years have I made myself write through times of struggle and uncertainty, and let myself work some things out between God and I on the page. Really, I try to pray about things that really bother me, before I write about them. I’ve crossed things out in my journal, also, when I saw I was writing something negative about another person. They might never read my journal, but I will, and God will, and what I write will affect the way I think and feel about others. I never want to reach a point where I can’t pray about someone. If I harbor negative feelings, without addressing them, I create a vacuum only bitterness can fill. That’s me, though, and I know many people use their journals or diaries to work through things. I think my current journals definitely show the other side of my life, a little more of the rain, and not just the roses all the time. It’s good to write about the tough stuff.

    • Marietta

      I’m sorta on the same page… I think a journal is a safe place for all those emotions that you need to get out but aren’t necessarily going to tell anyone. I often start writing the hard drama or woes of my life and then end up having my mind transformed in the process of writing and not only feeling better but seeing straighter.
      It is hard rereading them sometimes and remembering the hurt and craziness of what I’ve gone through, and I often wonder if it would be easier if I hadn’t written, because then I would have forgotten it ever happened. But when I remember what I went through not only can I see how far I’ve come and how it’s shaped me, but how each one I’ve survived through and I’ll be able to survive through the next wave of the ocean.
      When everyone thinks you’re brave and you have your life so put together I don’t mind someone reading and finding out I was so broken and struggling so often. I think that would give hope and comfort, that they’re not alone.

  • Maja Ćorić

    Hello.Let me answer in order you’ve asked the questions.
    Do you journal or keep a diary? If so, what do you write about?
    I have started writing pretty much when I was 12 years old (just like you, that stunned me!) I started writing about child’s plays: cycling with a friend, a big dog I saw on the fair (things that attract childs mind). As time passed, I did went into “all the glitter and all the drama” part of my life. But, at the same time, I had some struggles of my own, and a journal was (still is!) the right place for all the fear, anger and rage that I do not want to send out into the world. I wrote stories in my journal,you know? – those that will never (ever!) get published. I wrote notes on quality of ink in a pen. I did handwriting test.. you get it by now: my journal is a playground.
    In what ways have you fallen prey to writing “soap opera” dramas like me?
    I’ve mentioned it earlier. YES, there have been pages about drama. Then again, there were also some pages dedicated to my own emotional drama – I’m not ashamed of any of them. Some are dark, but without dark, how I am to know when I see the light?
    How can you be more intentional with your journaling this year
    I will
    I can.
    …but, I leave some room in it, for my moments of child’s play. 😀

  • Anna Madarász

    I used to have a diary in my teenage years. It was a common one, I only wrote down my life happenings and my thoughts, my plans, sometimes my struggles. In my collage years I didn’t get a diary, honestly I had no time for that. My life was fast, and changeable.
    After I saved, I got a need. A need to think orver or just look after my thoughts, and prayers. I’ve began a spiritual diary for my beautiful journey with God. I write it when I must. When I’m full of thought, prayers, answers and messages. God uses my little diary as well, and thank you Kristen for your advices, because it would become more greater.

  • HuntressOfGod

    I have a journal, a prayer journal. I’ve been journaling since I was six or seven years old. In my journals (I’m on journal 7 or 8 right now) I write down my prayers and praise to God, my questions and struggles. Other times I try to be a songwriter, and it stops after the first ten words. I write about some drama’s, but mostly to try and think through them and find a conclusion. I also write letters to people, like “dear future husband” or “dear me”, though usually its “Dear God”. I don’t write about crushes I have -I don’t have any-, but I write about the type of husband I wish to meet someday.
    I always think about past journals when I read them “O goodness, I’d better not die any time soon!” but I realize its a past that has made me who I am, and helps to to realize my mistakes and become a better person.
    I also remember to write in my journals tips on “When I have a teenage daughter” because I know that I will think differently as I get older, and most teenage girls think along the same lines, or at least have some of the same feelings on things.
    You girls are amazing! Thanks for all you’ve done. This is an awesome blog that I needed today.

  • Tirzah

    this post and your post about girl friendships are your two best blog posts of 2017. This is exactly what I did to read

  • Reigha Sunshine

    My journals are my most prized possession because they hold the deepest feelings and inner workings of my heart. There, I can go over all that God has taught me and all he has grown inside my soul. I personally love going back over my old journals and reading the “soap opera” dramas as well as the bible verses and prayers. I think that writing down what is important to you is very valuable because you can go back and see how much God has grown you. Write away!

  • Ruth Meyer

    Love this, Kristen!! So well said. It always makes me happy to find other girls who enjoy and dutifully journal in the age of e-mail and social media madness. It’s easy to type about your life, and forget to write it down on paper. There’s a real difference. I find hand-writing makes me think more carefully about what I’m saying, and dig deeper to make each sentence count. I have 40+ journals, and yet, I can’t say I write every day. I do tend to make long entries when I do write, and I love writing during family vacations and church retreats. My journals tell not just my story, but my whole family’s story (we are all very close). They tell the story of my growing walk with the Lord, and the lessons He has taught me over the years. I try to find lessons when they happen, and it keeps my eyes focused on eternity. I could talk for hours about journals, and how awesome they are. One thing I always keep in mind is, someone will read this one day. I used to read my journals outloud to my family. But, I’ve always loved writing and telling stories, so I kind of turn my life into a story when I record it. For years I wrote only about things that were happening, and stuck to recording everything in a positive light, no matter how crazy things really were. In recent years I’ve delved into sharing more of my heart, my struggles emotionally, and other things in my journal. I’ve become more of a “Dear Journal”er than ever before, and tried to be more honest with myself. I cherish my journals, and through them I’ve seen so much more of my life than I can honestly remember. You don’t realize how precious your own journals are, until you start losing your memories, and have to read your life, just to remember it even happened. I’m not that sick anymore, but I went through a year of losing days and months of memories at a time. It’s not always easy to keep a journal, but it’s a challenge well worth the effort, for yourself, and for future generations.

  • Brittni

    Thank you very much dearest Kristen for the advice and counsel. I really wanted to start journaling this year, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to journal or rather, what would be appropriate to write down for someone else to read it one day. I am grateful for the tips and please pray that I, too, may glorify God in this matter.

    On a side note: My sister and I have been watching your videos and reading your posts for only 2 months now. We’re ALWAYS blessed with godly counsel, reproof, instruction, correction and advice on how to be a godly woman. We’ve realised that this advice is not only for the benefit of our own salvation, but also for the benefit of others salvation and so we share with our girlfriends a lot of the time. Thank you for your dedication and patience and ministry work. It is highly appreciated. As long as you continue to stick to God’s Word and live out His principles, I will continue to pray for you and Bethany as individuals, sisters, and for your ministry. God bless.

  • Priyanka

    Kristen, while all your points are good, I disagree somewhat with your statement, ‘write down things you won’t be ashamed of other people reading’… It is perfectly possible for an honest journal to be a private record that you would be embarrassed if other people read it. When we are honest before God, we are honest about our secret sins and faults: all with a view to turn away from them and to God, to seek His will and not ours. Maybe what you meant is not writing about sinful/trivial/meaningless things that you have no intention to change about yourself.

  • Horse Lover

    I love this! My younger journals were very crush related and I honestly just threw it away because I didn’t want that in my life anymore. This is really great advice for my next journal.

  • Em

    I think it’s okay to write embarrassing stuff in there. I’ve been journaling since I was 6 – I’m 17 now. Sometimes when I read old stuff I cringe, but that’s okay. For me it’s a way to learn about myself and writing down my deepest thoughts and feelings without sugercoating them really helps me. And it’s a way to see my journey. I always used to write about mundane things, in later years about all my struggles and my anger, and in the past year I’ve written a lot about my spiritual journey. It’s good to see how far I’ve come, even if the things I’ve written aren’t always very pretty and I’d hate for anyone else to read them.

  • Kennedy Sim

    This inspired me to start my own journal! I love writing and always had a diary when I was little so to do it again but with a purpose it awesome! Thanks for this post. I’m 16 so hopefully I can get some good things in their before I get married and whatnot! 🙂

  • BloomingSunshine Blog

    I love this! Journaling is so important for teens, it has so many benefits. Becoming more intentional in what we write is such a good idea because it helps us gain insight and revelation for our lives, even at a young age. I posted an article on my blog with reasons why girls should have a journal.


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