4 Reasons You Should Start Journal Writing
Journal writing is more than putting pen to paper or logging life events. Writing in a journal can be cathartic. It can be relaxing. It can be evaluative. It is a learning process. We all know, from experience in formal education, that writing can be used to report what is learned. But the act of writing itself is an exercise for the mind. I did some research to try and understand the benefits of writing and how that can apply to journaling.
- Writing Makes Us Smarter
First, did you know that writing makes us smarter? Maybe you’re like, duh, that’s why you have to do it in every class ever taken. Hopefully you’ve heard about the ongoing debate about whether or not kids need to learn cursive in school. Um, yes they should. With the advance of technology some even wonder why learn to write at all when you can type on a computer? (The very thought ties my stomach in knots.)
The actual act of writing stimulates our brain in ways that typing on a computer cannot. Writing uses visual, motor, cognitive, and perceptual parts of the brain. It is more difficult for our brain to make your hand write than it is to make your fingers type because you have to remember the shape of the letters, apply the correct pressure to the pen, and create the shapes on paper amongst other things. When you write you are giving your brain a workout.
- Writing Makes Us Focus Our Thoughts
To put thoughts on paper you have to focus and organize. Many find that writing clarifies their thoughts on a subject, event, or emotion. You have to choose the words to describe an event. For example if I write, “We had to go to church today”, I imply that I may have gone reluctantly. However, if I had written, “We got to go to church today” it sounds as though I wanted to go. We clarify our own feelings by the words we choose.
We also organize our thoughts in the process of writing. When you are writing you have to organize the series of events so that it makes sense. Another example, when I had my babies, before I could write anything down I had organize my thoughts as to what happened first, second, third…thirty hours later.
- Writing Helps Us Remember
Have you noticed that you remember better if you write a list? You may never look at the list again but the act of writing it down makes your brain remember better. I’ve noticed this when I write down the funny things my kids say or do. The ones I write down, I remember longer. The best part is, when I do eventually forget with my cursed mom brain, I can go back and read it all over again.
Could writing insights and thoughts down in a journal help you to remember them? I would think so, especially if you occasionally go back and review your entries.
- Writing Helps Us Heal
There is a great article by Melissa Tydell here, that lists the ways that writing helps us heal. I particularly like how writing in a journal helps us to let things go. We all have events in our past that haunt us. We can’t change them and sometimes we can get ourselves trapped in a vicious cycle of replaying the events that can lead to bitterness, excessive guilt, or anger. Writing those events and what we think about them down in a journal can help us examine it from a different perspective. Many people find the act of writing helps them to release emotions they’ve been hanging on to.
Write in a journal. It can help in ways you never expected.
I’ve included a list of articles that I found helpful as I’ve researched. Pretty interesting stuff.
Writing About Emotions May Ease Stress and Trauma, Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School
Why Does Writing Make Us Smarter?, The Huffington Post, September 15, 2001
10 Ways that Writing Can Help You Destress, theskooloflife.com,
Handwriting is Beneficial to Children’s Cognitive Development, fyiliving.com, February 22, 2011
Writing and Remembering: Why We Remember What We Write, lifehack.org