Image source: Flickr - emmalarkins
If you’re like me, then you probably have a tendency to forget what you had for breakfast, let alone the details of your Parisian walking tour or South African safari. It’s all too easy to think during the moment, “I’ll remember this forever,” but after you’ve Instagram’d that last photo of a baby lemur, how likely is it that you can remember the scene for what it was?
Journaling is an enviable discipline, with diarists and practitioners singing the praises of putting pen to paper. Of course, these days some folks prefer to blog and send their thoughts across the Internet ether, and it’s just as beneficial for them. Whether writing to remember specifics of a trip or a meal, or writing to wade through emotions and thoughts, maintaining a journal is both a creative writing outlet and a form of therapy.
In Joan Didion’s essay “On Keeping a Notebook,” the prolific writer dissects why record-keeping is so important, and why it’s worth the personal effort:
“We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”
While journaling serves the purpose of recording life as you see it, it also helps you be a stronger communicator. Over time, continued journaling produces a body of work you can return to, where you can dissect your progress as a writer. Virginia Woolf wrote “[it] is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.” Writing begets more writing, and the longer you keep a journal, the more you’ll improve as a writer, while also developing a body of work brimming with ideas you can tap into in the future.
Finally, journaling is not all about writing. Drawing, sketching, painting and photography all have their place in personal travel journals. Famed comic artist Lynda Barry, for instance, encourages doodling and using your hands in cases of writer’s block, so that the mind can freely explore. In an interview with NPR, she said about images,
“I believe with all my heart they have an absolute biological function. They are not decoration. They are not an elective. They have a function.”
However you journal, remember that it’s your story to tell. Write, draw, feel with abandon.
Do you keep a journal when you travel?