Keeping such a long-form journal is really time consuming. Fantasies of devoting lots of time to recording deep thoughts and in-depth recollections usually founder on a simple reality.
The solution? Keep the journal idea, but ditch the length. Write down a sentence or two each day to record your most prominent memories.
One sentence is enough. Just make sure you keep your journal somewhere handy to make recording that short recollection of your day convenient, avoiding any excuse to skip days.
In writing your journal give primary attention to detail; for it is a detail which organises and preserves experience for your future self or some another reader. General statements like “we had a wonderful time” or “it was the dismal morning” make a mockery of the whole procedure, for they it evaluate the experience without recreating it. Robert Grudin
Take a confrontational incident involving yourself and another person and write it from the other person’s viewpoint.
Use your journal to explore your feelings, thoughts, memories and emotions. Be fulfilled by expressing in writing your thoughts and desires, ideas and feelings. Know what other people want or expect from you and, covertly, contrast what you do with those expectations.
Treat each encounter as a shaped short story, with a twist in the tail, turning facts into fiction. An incident from your past can be difficult to face. One solution is to see the incident from another person’s viewpoint thus removing yourself from the story. Telescope all the events of a week into a day. Tighten.
A memory is best remembered through images, not emotions. If you remember a time vividly after many years then something about it must be interesting. So if you are ever stuck, then just sit back, close your eyes and ask yourself “What do I remember vividly?”
Leave room—usually just a couple of pages—in the beginning or end of your journal for an informal table of contents.
Then number each page and try to list the topics covered as you go along. This makes finding the “good stuff” a lot easier down the road. Don’t worry about doing this each time you journal. But do complete your table of contents before starting your next journal.
Writing a journal doesn’t need to be a factual record of what you did or thought. Rather, it is how the event made you feel. That way allows you to get closer to the truth.
You are your life’s editor, imposing a shape and theme on an untidy sprawl of half-remembered events.