Download/print the 1 page PDF of this handout.
Recording your own history
A daily journal can be a way to record your own story. People journal for many reasons. What do you hope to get back from your journaling? Do you journal primarily for yourself? Do you journal to leave a record of your life? Are you writing an autobiography? A memoir? What will you leave behind? And for whom?
An idea for brief entries: 5 year diary
Daily journaling is often focused on the day ahead or the day which has just passed. One way to make this kind of brief record more interesting and organized is to use a 5-year diary.
Each page of the diary is devoted to one day of the year, with space for a few lines a day, each year. As time goes by, you can read the previous entries as you are writing the new ones each day—both recording and reflecting on your own history.
You can purchase a 5 year diary, or make your own by buying a roller-date stamp and modifying a simple daily planner or notebook with at least 365 pages. Of course, this type of daily diary won’t work for the more sporadic or spontaneous writer. Gaps without writing will be quite obvious if you skip days or weeks.
An idea for reflecting back: Family history
Take time to write about your family of origin, your early life, and particularly to reflect on the ways your own personal history has influenced the person you are today.
Write about each of your relatives. What have they taught you and what have you learned from their experiences. What are the “stories” about that person you remember most, and why? What stories would they remember about you?
Choose someone close to you, then repeat the exercise with a family friend or distant relative instead. Challenge yourself to choose an important place or event in your earlier life and describe those memories.
- Scrapbook storytelling: save family stories and memories with photos, journaling and your own creativity by Joanna Slan
- Real life journals: designing & using handmade books by Gwen Diehn
The monthly workshop “journaling with words and images” meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 10 am at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.