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Journaling for Future Generations May 21, 2014

Posted by lycan librarian in writing.
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images        Journaling is something people do for many reasons. Some want to leave a record of their lives for future generations and others claim to journal only for themselves, as a form of therapy. The more you write, the better you get at it, and journaling is a great way to make yourself write regularly. Writing helps the memory, inspires creativity, and makes us aware of our actions and behaviors. But if you are taking the time to record your days, why not bring them vividly to life?

The best way to breathe life into your writing is to think about the five senses. How did things look, taste, smell, sound and feel? When describing an experience, such as a family gathering, leave a record of the day by appealing to the senses. Don’t just report what was eaten. Describe the colors, the presentation, the aromas. Talk about your sticky fingers as you sampled the barbecued chicken leg and report on the tang of the coleslaw that had just a little too much vinegar in it. Even if you write just for yourself, it might bring a smile to your face rereading it and remembering that the past weekend when you had Aunt Martha’s coleslaw and it still made your cheeks pucker. Your observations are the basis of your work; you are presenting the world from your point of view, so take the time to include what you feel as well as what you see.

Include national and historic events for reference. If it effected you, record it. It adds dimension to the time in which you lived. Who knows, your journal may one day become another writer’s reference work, so give them some great material. Fill your journal with those small life details that we think will never change, because they will.  Be honest, because this is the record of you; admit when you’re lonely, depressed, jealous, opinionated, overwhelmed or lazy because it’s the dark times as well as the good ones that will truly reflect who you are and make your life feel real. When we report on everyday tasks, we can easily picture them being done while talking about the present. But future generations will have a greater gift in your journals if they can compare how they do things to how they were done in the past, so throw in those details you take for granted to create a graphic picture for others.

If something impresses you, share it. Describe that cloudy sky and the feel of the wind as it shifted from warm to cool. Did the wind howl as it picked up? Did the dresses and shirts look like dancing phantoms as you hurried to pluck them from the clothes line and get them inside? There is a thrill for both writer and reader when words strike a chord and bring vivid pictures to mind, and using lyrical sentences can bring the past back into the present. But remember that you don’t always have to use prose. Draw a picture, create a map or write a poem.

Taking just a little extra effort to include more details will round out your journal. It will help you by forcing you to see things you might not otherwise notice, thereby instilling feelings of wonder and gratitude. For future generations, it will bridge the years and make them realize, all at once, how much things have changed and how much they haven’t changed at all.

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