Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I write professionally. Daily, I send words out into the world for public consumption. But, I journal for me. I write to connect to my life and hopefully transform it. I do not share these musings with others. I never expected I would want to journal with someone else. But I'm doing just that. 

Ten years ago, my husband and I began keeping a gratitude journal together. We take turns writing three-five things we are grateful about the other. Sometimes we draw silly pictures. We don't write daily. Sometimes years go by without an entry. But when one senses the other could use a little gratitude, he or she pulls out the journal, makes a list, and leaves it for the other to find.

Last summer I started journaling with both of my children. I wanted to share some of the writing exercises I'd been doing with the Dream Keepers and am now using for the write2transform challenge—write2thanks, write2delight, and write2build. I wanted the exercises to help my children practice gratitude and get connected to their strengths. Finally, as a writer, I also wanted a record of their thoughts and questions from their childhood in their own handwriting.

When I introduced the journals, my son complied but kvetched. He'd write terse, one-sentence answers to my questions. The whole process was painful. I didn't want to promote an exercise that he'd grow to hate—so I dropped it. His journal is stuffed away somewhere in his over-packed bookshelf. 

My daughter loved the practice and embraced it immediately. In the past year, we have filled one journal and are working on a second. As many of you know, my eight-year-old daughter has had to face some health issues. She developed seizure disorder when she was 3 1/2 years old. She was diagnosed with failure-to-thrive a few years later and put on a feeding tube in 2008. She's now been on the feeding tube for two years. I hoped the journaling would give her something to do while she was hooked up to the feeding pump. I also wanted her to start brainstorming about how she could eat more and get off the feeding tube for good. (We're still working on that one.) 

The write2connect project has been a great deal of fun for both of us. Maybe the best person to tell you about it is my daughter, Elly. This afternoon, I interviewed her about our journaling practice. Here's what she to say:

What do you think about journaling with me?
It's so much fun. And you can tell each other secrets and talk in there and say stuff. It gives you interesting things to think about. It's kind of like a diary but a little different. 

What have been some of your favorite entries: 
I like thinking about stuff we can do on holidays--St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, and Christmas. I like learning about each other, too. I also like writing about when we both were little. I liked writing about what I am good at, too. I like it when my mom asks questions.

What advice would you give to someone starting a project like this?
I'd tell them that you'd love to do it because it keeps you from being bored. It's good to do when your homework is done. If you had a friend over one day, you could journal with them. You can journal with anyone you want to. Your brother or sister could get their own journal so that they can journal with your mom. 

Any tips for our readers?
*You should use a lot of colors to write with. Use a pen to write with because pencil markings are harder to see. 
*You have to have a good mind to ask questions because sometimes you don't know what to ask. So, don't worry about writing every day.
*If you just met someone, ask them what they like to do because you want to know more.
*If you are journaling with your mom, ask her what she'd like to do one day. Or just write about interesting stuff. Anything that you want to write about. 

So there you have it. I'd be interested in how others use their journals to write2connect!


  1. You had me at "I write professionally," "I journal for me." It was a needed reminder. I love your journaling ideas - gratitude journal with your husband, encouraging your children to journal. That inspires me.

  2. I would follow your son's response, I think.
    I hate journals that ask me questions! Can't stand them! The "faith" journals and others just drive me nuts! It feels like they're forcing me into a box or something. Most of the time my response to their questions is: "Who cares?"
    When I journal,(and I do, though more regularly a year ago than now) I usually try to focus myself on what is happening around me and how I am coping or dealing with it. I guess it is a question-ing journal, but I'm the one who asks the questions.

  3. Bill, I wonder if you would feel different if the journal wasn't asking you questions but a person was? I think I like these journals because my daughter is asking and answering the questions. It's a good way to learn about each other! :-) And you gave me a wonderful idea for another post: write2question!