The Add-on Value of Journal Keeping


I remember trying my hand at keeping a journal during my first year in high school. Like most of my half-baked ideas, it started out on a high note. I had this tiny diary on which I wrote my impressions for the day. The quality of my handwriting reflected my enthusiasm: at first, the entries were written carefully and easy to read, then degenerated to half-legible scribbles. In time, the gaps between the dates of my entries lengthened until I eventually grew tired of the whole thing and forgot all about it.

A few years later, when I came home for a short vacation I found my small diary among my old books. Without meaning to, I started reading and promptly became absorbed in my scribbled entries. I was not exactly sure what I was expecting but after giggling (and wincing) at my adolescent absurdities, I was surprised at what I had found. Notwithstanding the numerous spelling and grammar lapses, it was like sharing thoughts with somebody strange and familiar at the same time.

Suddenly I was reliving those days again, and since I had practically forgotten most of the details, it was like reading about somebody else’s life — only, its more vivid because they are accompanied by memories. It also elicited a rush of emotions (amusement, sadness, chagrin, remorse, bafflement, etc.) as I began to remember other details. No, there were no extraordinary events detailed in those pages, no life-altering confessions, no earth-shattering secrets — just a series small, everyday things that seemed so important to me at the time.

I have not made any further attempts of keeping a journal or a diary since then, but I feel grateful to my younger self for having the sense to crystallize those days in a way only teenagers can. Your adolescent viewpoint may not be as coherent or as sensible as you wish it could be, but you do begin to understand why things looked the way they did to you back then.

I guess in a way maintaining a blog (albeit at a more sporadic pace) is a continuation of that effort, as explained in a New York Times article by K.J. Dell’Antonia (The Surprising Value of Journaling an Ordinary Day). Another NYT article also notes, “new research suggests that recording our run-of-the-mill, daily experiences rather than just our highs and lows, could bring us unexpected joy.”

Yes, I suppose it does. Although I will probably be more certain about this in a few years’ time (hopefully by that time this blog will still be alive and kicking so I can blog more about it).



3 thoughts on “The Add-on Value of Journal Keeping

  1. Personally, writing about my daily experiences brings me joy and gives me a sense of satisfaction. That’s why I re-read my old blog entries when I have the time or when I feel down, so I get reminded of my happy and colorful life.

    P.S. Ano nga kaya noh, after 20 years nagbablog pa rin tayo. Ang saya siguro nun! 🙂


  2. Personally, I had no real expectations when I started reading my old diary entries, but right in the middle of it memories came flooding in, and I was rather surprised by how I felt better afterwards. weird. LOL!

    After 20 years? Hmmm… hopefully by that time we’ve moved on to other things but would still have the time to blog about them. 🙂


  3. I know how that feels! I read through all my adolescent journals before burning them. I still write on a paper journal (usually it’s just a cheap spiral notebook from the store) even if I have a blog. I write almost every day and write about the mundane things. It’s my way of processing my personal junk and purging my obsessions.


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