A woman writing in a notebook.Many people write in personal journals (or online blogs). Writers not only record events in journals, but also reflect and record thoughts, observations, questions, and feelings.

Journals are safe spaces to record your experience of the world.

Use a journal to write about an experience you had, different reactions you have observed to the same situation, a current item in the news, an ethical problem at work, an incident with one of your children, a memorable childhood experience of your own, etc. Try to probe the why or how of the situation.

Journals can help you develop ideas for writing. When you review your journal entries, you may find that you keep coming back to a particular topic, or that you have written a lot about one topic in a specific entry, or that you’re really passionate about an issue. Those are the topics, then, about which you obviously have something to say. Those are the topics you might develop further in a piece of writing.

Here’s one sample journal entry. You’ll find ideas that the writer might develop further in a piece of writing:

The hot issue here has been rising gas prices. People in our town are mostly commuters who work in the state capitol and have to drive about 30 miles each way to and from work. One local gas station has been working with the gas company to establish a gas cooperative, where folks who joined would pay a bit less per gallon. I don’t know whether I like this idea – it’s like joining one of those stores where you have to pay to shop there. You’ve got to buy a lot to recoup your membership fee. I wonder if this is a ploy of the gas company?? Others were talking about starting a petition to the local commuter bus service, to add more routes and times, as the current service isn’t enough to address workers’ schedules and needs. Still others are talking about initiating a light rail system, but this is an alternative that will take a lot of years and won’t address the situation immediately. I remember the gas crunch a number of years ago and remember that we simply started to carpool. In the Washington, DC area, with its huge traffic problems and large number of commuters, carpooling is so accepted that there are designated parking and pickup places along the highway, and it’s apparently accepted for strangers to pull over, let those waiting know where they’re headed, and offer rides. I’m not certain I’d go that far . . .

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