Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

My life isn’t very exciting, and I’m not a very good writer. Do I still need to keep a journal?

New Era

  • The experiences you have are unique. Years from now you will be amazed at how much you have grown.

  • Be honest about yourself. Your journal is the perfect place to sort out your feelings, set goals, and develop dreams.

  • Write down experiences as soon as you can. Interesting details can fade quickly.

  • Moroni didn’t think he was a great writer either (see Ether 12:23–25), but we’d be missing a lot without his writings.

  • If nothing else, write your testimony. Nephi said, “We … write, to persuade our children … to believe in Christ” (2 Ne. 25:23).

Yes, you still need to keep a journal. First of all, your life really is interesting. You are unique, and your experiences are different from anyone else’s. You don’t have to see miracles or change the world to have something worthy to record in your journal—your thoughts and feelings are exciting enough.

If it feels like you have nothing to say, look a little differently at what you’re experiencing. For example, writing how you ate lunch in your favorite place outside the gym under the trees with your best friend is more interesting than simply listing the school lunch menu.

Another reason to keep a journal is for your posterity. But it’s not the most important one. The biggest reason to write in your journal is for you. Even if no one else ever lays eyes on your journals, it doesn’t matter. In fact, assuming every word you write will be examined by generations to come might scare you into being overly careful about what you write.

You may be tempted to write about a Sunday-best version of you with perfect thoughts and habits. Your pages will be a lot more interesting if you write about the real you, even if that person occasionally falls asleep in algebra class, has holey socks, and sings off key. Don’t focus too much on the positive or the negative. Just be honest.

Elder L. Edward Brown of the Seventy said, “There is something about journal writing that causes us to meditate, to recommit, and to receive spiritual impressions in the process of such pondering. Frequently, you will have cause to rejoice at how the Lord has been sensitively involved in guiding and watching over you and those you love and care about” (Ensign, Dec. 2000, 16).

Journal writing is the perfect place to sort out your feelings, solve problems, set goals, preserve memories, and develop dreams. It’s important to write about experiences now while your memories are fresh. Years down the road you will rediscover your words and be amazed at how much you’ve grown and how much the Lord has blessed you.

You may never be remembered for your superior writing skills, profound insight, or miraculous experiences as a teenager, but you’re the only one who can describe the night you finished the Book of Mormon for the first time, or the flustered feeling you had on your first date, or the smell of fresh roses at your grandpa’s funeral, or anything else in your life. If you’re the only one who benefits from your efforts, that’s enough.

President Spencer W. Kimball

Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies” (New Era, Oct. 1975, 5). —President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985)

Readers

Writing journals is all about keeping and savoring memories. I think that you should keep a journal to help record your feelings about certain activities and landmarks in your life. It is these feelings that will help you remember these times.

A journal can also be beneficial for your children and grandchildren in years to come. I also think that you benefit from journal writing as you can reflect upon and overcome things that can help you grow stronger. Anthony Ngawaka, 16, Great Barrier Island Branch, Auckland New Zealand Harbour Stake

The main reason for keeping a journal is to write down God’s dealings with you. Never assume that you will remember spiritual experiences, feelings, events, things you are thankful for, people you admire. Make sure you write your testimony. If you can’t stand to write, make a habit out of taking a camera wherever you go. Hillary Elledge, 17, Woodinville Third Ward, Bothell Washington Stake

It is important for us to keep a journal no matter what. The prophet has asked us to keep one. I find that spiritual events are more meaningful and exciting than anything else that might happen in a day. One day when you have forgotten your past you can read back in your journal and experience that same spirit that you felt when it was taking place. Bryan Jensen, 18, Bothell Second Ward, Bothell Washington Stake

I feel that no matter what your writing capability may be and even though your life may not be too exciting, it’s important to keep a journal.

A journal helps in your spiritual growth and your personal development, and I find that when you read through past journal entries and experiences, you are able to learn from these and become a better person. Nadia Webster, 18, Dural Ward, Sydney Australia Greenwich Stake

If our lives are not exciting we should still keep a journal because we have been commanded to keep records. When you’re gone it can tell those who are around after you what life was like for you and what the world was like. David James, 18, Imperial Beach Ward, Chula Vista California Stake

Your life may not seem interesting now, but all the small things add up to help create who you are. Writing things down can help you analyze your thoughts and actions. Being a horrible writer has nothing to do with it.

If God wants you to keep a journal, He can help you through the Holy Ghost if you will ask. Adam Lieberman, 14, Buffalo Grove First Ward, Buffalo Grove Illinois Stake

I had the same problem. Nothing interesting ever seemed to happen to me. Then I was challenged by my Young Women leader to keep a journal. She gave us a jar of questions to answer whenever we couldn’t think of anything to write. Slowly I found that my life was interesting. Now I write in my journal constantly. I look back and read my old journals, and I’m fascinated at how much I have grown. Katie Grover, 18, Chula Vista Third Ward, Chula Vista California Stake

[photo] Photograph by John Luke, posed by model