Journaling vs. Blogging

I cannot believe that I haven’t written anything since the 5th of January! I keep a journal–a couple of them actually, one handwritten, one on my computer–but I forget that I have this blog that I can write in. But there’s another reason why I rarely write here: I think that everything I write has to be nuggets of gold, because it’s open to the public. Why else would anyone want to read what I write? I need to get past that attitude and write just for me. But if my thoughts aren’t interesting to other people, so be it.

My writing has been shaped by my journaling. I’ve kept a journal since my teens and I’ve kept all of them but the earliest ones (and I now regret throwing those away). I rarely read them; it’s just comforting to know that they’re there. They are some kind of confirmation that my life has been worth something, even that I’ve actually been here. That’s one reason why I write in the first place: the hope that something of me will still be here after I die. Of course, that presupposes that someone will hang on to them and want to read them. But what happens after I die is completely out of my control.

I don’t use any clever techniques to get myself going when I journal. I just write. I don’t feel like I’m in touch with my day–and my life–unless I write something. I’m often disappointed by what comes out of me. I’d like to think that I’m more interesting than the person who shows up in my journals. I can’t say that I really know who that person is or how she comes across, though. But if I worried about that, I’d never write anything.

I haven’t made the transition from journaling to blogging. I know that they aren’t one and the same although they can feel that way. Journals are ultimately private. I can choose to share mine with people, but for the most part they are purely for me and I wouldn’t want anyone else to read them (unless I’m dead; see above). But with blogs there is the presumption that someone else will read them, even the hope that that will be so. How does that shape what I write here?

In a blog, I’m writing for an audience (a potential one). I can’t help but be somewhat self-conscious about what I write. But it also makes me think a little more deeply, try a little harder to be understood. Journaling can be like shorthand. A great deal of it means something only to me, and some of my posts are only meant to be reminders of what was going on in my life at the time. Blogs have to be more specific and fleshed out. I can’t just say that my grandson came to visit, I have to elaborate. Why did he come for a visit? How old is he? How did he act? What was my response? Sometimes I cover these things in my journal but often I don’t. I just assume that I will remember what the visit was like when I read that he came for one.

But that’s a dangerous assumption. In my journals, I’m guilty of telling, not showing, because I figure that I’ll remember the details. I need to write in them as if I’m writing to someone who doesn’t know me because in the future I probably won’t know the me that wrote in my journal. I’ve had that frustrating experience many times when I have read parts of my journals. Who was I talking about here? What did I really think about that?

This little entry has helped me to realize that I can write in my journals the same way that I would write in a blog, or a letter. Because a blog is like a letter more than it is like a journal. In a letter you’re more informative (usually) because you want to reconsctruct what’s been going on with you so that your reader will be able to understand. But there’s no reason why I can’t write letters to myself. In this way my journals can become like blogs, except that I’m the only reader. Perhaps then I’ll become more aware of who I really am and what I really think.

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