“My Journal, A Vital Record,” Ensign, Sept. 2004, 72
Is keeping a journal worth it? Of course—especially when you consider that your posterity will seek information about you whether you provide it or not! Writing it yourself helps ensure accuracy and allows you to emphasize what you think is most important. It is also helpful to have a careful record on hand when your own memory begins to fade.
Personally, I prefer to write by hand in acid-free, hardcover, bound journals. I think handwritten entries allow future generations a special glimpse into your personality. If you keep your journal on computer, I suggest you periodically print it and keep the hard copy somewhere safe. A journal stored in a nonretrievable format is as bad as no journal at all.
Over the years I have enhanced my journal writing by keeping in mind two simple guidelines:
Be complete. In addition to sharing thoughts and feelings, your journal is a record of your life’s events. For future reference, be sure to include complete information: names (first and last), dates (including the year), and places (city, state, or other information applicable to your country). Don’t assume that people and events you know intimately will be familiar to your future readers. It may seem tedious at first to add these details, but future readers will be grateful for your efforts.
Vary your entries. Don’t become obsessed with fact to the exclusion of emotion. You want a balance of both. In addition to narrative entries, my journal contains a variety of entries, from lists of people who attended events like my children’s baby blessings to postcards received from friends. I have included favorite scriptures as well as synopses of ward and stake meetings. I have also drawn pictures in my journal and have even included some of my favorite recipes.
Preston Draper, Norman Fourth Ward, Norman Oklahoma Stake