How to Journal for the Future

As a family history writer I spend much of my time thinking, researching and writing about the past. Much of my time has been spent researching the 1800’s. So much so, that I wonder if that is when I should have been born. It is times like this that I need to be reminded of the present and the gift that I can give to my future generations.

Keeping a record of my thoughts and the events in my life is the greatest gift I can give myself and my descendants. Writing allows me to organize my thoughts and helps me to see with clarity what I might have missed.

My descendants would benefit by getting a deeper look into who I was as a person. I hope they would feel connected to me. It would help them to have an appreciation for the time in which I lived.

For this reason, I believe that it is imperative that genealogists take time to journal. What stories do you want to leave behind? What do you want your descendants to know about you?

I will be honest; I struggle in keeping a journal. The idea that someone will read my thoughts makes me uncomfortable. What keeps me going is that I know this is the right thing to do for myself and for my descendants.  

The importance of journaling came to me after I read my Aunt Maggie’s journals. She seldom wrote about her thoughts but reading them is still a treasure. Her journals inspired me to keep my own, however, but I share my feelings.

Have I convinced you yet? Here’s the tips I learned from journaling:

  • Write every day. It doesn’t have to be impressive, the point is to get you to write what is happening around you and capturing your thoughts on it.
  • Write towards the end of the day. I do this for a couple of reasons. When you are relaxed and a bit sleepy you are more honest. Also most of the day has passed so you can write about the day’s events.
  • Are you a tech person? You can keep a journal on your computer, phone or tablet. You can keep it as a Word document or there is an app for that. I have a wire bound journal because I like to write long hand.
  • Try to write a little bit about everything: what is happening in the world, community events, entertainment events, family drama. I do this by keeping a schedule of things to write about. For example, Mondays are for writing about family events, Tuesdays are for writing about work…etc.
  • Scan or save copies to your genealogical record.
  • A year from now, review what you have written. Look at events with new clarity.

Now get writing!


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