Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

My journal is really boring. Why should I even keep one?

New Era

First, let’s talk about why you should keep a journal. Then we’ll talk about ways to make it more interesting.

Keep a journal for yourself.

The most important reason to write in your journal about your life’s experiences and the things you learn is for yourself. Your memory sometimes develops holes. But if you have your experience recorded, just reading it can bring back all the important feelings you had.

For example, one girl wrote in her journal about an answer she received to prayer when she was terribly discouraged. The feeling she experienced made her so happy and made her feel like her Heavenly Father truly cared about her and knew who she was. Now, whenever she gets down on herself, she can go to her journal and read about that experience. It reminds her of her Heavenly Father’s love for her.

Keep a journal for future generations.

Wouldn’t you be interested to read about your great-grandfather’s life? What were his problems? How did he solve them? What did he do for fun? Was he like you? Your children and grandchildren will love reading more about your life. Some of the most valuable advice you can give may not be what you say in person but what you write about.

The most valuable records ever kept—the scriptures—were written by individuals about their lives, much like journals. For example, Nephi wrote about his desire to follow the teachings of his father and to learn for himself about the Lord’s plan for his family. Because he did as he was commanded and recorded the answers to his prayers and the things he learned, his record has become a precious treasure to the world.

Your journal may never be read by more than a few people. But it will become a precious treasure to you and to your family.

Now, how do you go about making your journal more interesting?

Add keepsakes.

Your journal doesn’t just have to be day after day of words. You can include a favorite poem or thought or add photographs when you have them. Keep ticket stubs and cards if they mean something special.

Write about the world.

You are living in amazing times. Really interesting things are happening every day. Write about important things happening in the world, particularly if they make you think.

Include humor.

Everything you write in your journal doesn’t have to be terribly important. If something happened that made you laugh, write it down.

Write about the past.

Include things that happened in your childhood or stories you’ve heard your parents or grandparents tell. You can preserve your family’s history in your journal.

Include your testimony.

Be sure to write about having a prayer answered, or when you followed inspiration, or when a teacher gave a lesson that really made you think. Also write about your testimony and what made it grow.

Just do it.

Try to write regularly, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t manage to write every day. You might do better with once every few days or once a week. Try to figure out a schedule that works well for you and stick to it.

Readers

I found that one important thing to remember when writing a journal is to pace yourself. Don’t force yourself to write an entry every day just for the sake of doing so. Also, to make a journal more interesting include snapshots, favorite songs or poems or quotations, or historical pages where you record stories and family experiences.

Lani Temple, 16 Kea’au, Hawaii

The most important things that you can write in your journal are your testimony and the spiritual, family, and growing experiences that you have had. As I began to write about things that were interesting and important to me—my family, my eternal progression, the gospel, and my friends—it no longer became a boring thing to do.

Michael Wilson, 17 Mesa, Arizona

My journals always seemed to be so boring. I always thought you had to have some great experience to write in your journal. Then one day I read my patriarchal blessing, and it said that I should keep one because one day my family would learn from it. That really struck me that it could be that important.

Donel Benedict, 18 Morro Bay, California

As a Beehive, I began to keep a journal. I have ten books full of letters, poems, photos, events, birthdays, Christmas cards, and even samples of the paper surrounding gifts. Every crush I ever had on a boy is embarrassingly recorded. Not every page needs to contain something deep or profound. My journals have inspired at least two of my nonmember friends to start one.

Keren Broomfield, 17 Athelstone, South Australia, Australia

Use your journal to sort through your thoughts and feelings. Teach yourself lessons about the things that happen to you each day. You will find that your journal can be a source of inspiration.

Kimberly Brantley, 19 Huntsville, Alabama

Read your journal or parts of it every once in a while. You can learn a lot about yourself, see how you saw things, and help change the way you see things now.

Aline Houseman, 12 Niles, Michigan

[photo] Photography by John Luke

[illustration] Nephi’s writings gave Mormon spiritual strength. Your writings about inspiration, answered prayers, and trials overcome can also be a help to those who come after you. (Painting Mormon Abridging the Plates by Tom Lovell.)