Debunked: Top 10 Objections to Keeping a Journal

February 14, 2013

I had been a sporadic journaler for years when my wife, Heather, suggested I try the discipline of daily writing using the free platform

woman hands laptop typing white

I was reluctant at first, listing all the reasons why I, a writer, didn’t need to write every day.

She convinced me to give it a try, however, and I’m glad she did. I discovered a number of benefits to daily writing that I hand’t experienced with my paper journal.

Here are the top 10 reasons people give for not keeping a journal. See if your objection is somewhere on this list.

1. I don’t have time.

My average time to write 750 words is exactly 20 minutes per day. Your writing time may vary, but most of us have about 20 minutes to spare for a positive, healthy activity. And remember, this requires no preparation or cleanup—unlike jogging or cycling.

2. I’ll run out of things to write.

When was the last time you and your best friend couldn’t find anything to talk about? Daily writing is just talking (with yourself, or God, or whomever you consider to be your audience) about the things you’ve been thinking or feeling lately.

You can write anything. It doesn’t have to be spiritual reflection all the time. Write your grocery list, your latest project idea, an e-mail to your boss—it all counts.

3. I keep forgetting.

Set a daily appointment, just as you do for eating lunch, brushing your teeth, or any of the things you want to do every day. If you write only when the mood strikes, you’ll write about twice a year. If you have a daily appointment, you’ll write more days than not.

Daily writing is sometimes called morning pages because, for many of us, our best and most predictable writing time is first thing in the morning. Try that.

4. I’m afraid other people will see what I write.

That is always a risk when creating a document. But there are easy ways to safeguard your daily pages from prying eyes. If you write on paper, you’ll have to find a secure place to keep your journal. If you write electronically, you can choose a software that offers password protection or encryption. And you can guard access to your computer. This risk here is incredibly low.

5. I don’t need one more thing to do.

Daily writing will likely become something you want to do. Most disciplines are like that. At first, you have to push yourself to do things like exercising or reading Scripture. After awhile, it becomes something you look forward to. The benefits of daily writing far outweigh the little bit of discipline it takes to establish the habit.

6. I’m not a writer.

You don’t have to be a writer to benefit from journaling anymore than you have to be a pastor to benefit from daily Bible reading. Do this as an exercise in self-examination, a way to process ideas, a time to reflect and pray. The point is not to advance your career but to develop yourself.

7. I don’t have access to a computer.

Neither did anybody else for some 4,000 years of recorded history, yet many still benefited from the discipline of writing. Lots of people continue to journal with pen and paper. Use any writing materials you like.

8. I’m not good at writing.

You don’t have to be a good writer to benefit from this practice. Nobody will see these words except for you. And even skilled writers don’t worry about technique for this exercise. Just write, typos, misspellings, mistakes, and all. The point is to get the ideas out of your head.

9. I’ve tried and failed before.

So did I, quite a few times. That was mostly because I was taking this too seriously and hadn’t found the right combination of tools. Experiment with this until you find a platform and time slot that works for you. The only wrong way to do this is the one that doesn’t work for you.

10. I don’t see the point.

Most people don’t see the point of any new thing until they try it. You may need to give this a go for a week or two in order to experience the benefits for yourself.

No discipline works for everyone, so it’s possible that daily writing isn’t for you. But what if it is and you never find out? Give this a try. I’d love to hear how it works for you.

How has journaling benefited you?

Lawrence W. Wilson


I blog about Christian faith and ministry. I've also written a few books including The Long Road Home and Why Me? Straight Talk about Suffering.