Back in 2004 I started to keep a journal. It was basically a folder on my Linux powered laptop, with a bunch of unorganized files floating around. Everything was written hastily using vi, an editor which may be considered somehow cumbersome by the average computer user. Those were the days when my programming skills were sharper than ever… 4 years later I look at blogging from a serious business perspective, and made from eDragonu.ro blog my main activity. It was quite a process. Not always simple or even visible, sometimes pushed in the background by other, more urgent activities, but it was constant and evolving. It was like a subtle awakening. In this post I will try to outline some of my experiences from an emotional journalizing attitude to a much more fulfilling approach like blogging.
Keeping a journal is a fantastic therapeutic activity. It literally keeps depression away (but don’t talk about that to your therapist, or you can notice a sudden increase in his bill). Most of the people think about journaling as a very normal and maybe even necessary activity, but only until you finish college. You are allowed to keep a journal until your graduation, but if you do this afterwards, well, you might be labelled as a strange person. Journaling is often seen as a weakness or a sign of an unstable personality.
But in fact, it is quite the contrary. The vast majority of famous people had a journal. Almost any important personality, from physicists like Albert Einstein to writers like Marcel Proust, they all kept a diary. And that seemed to enforce their inner balance and to boost their creativity resources. Having a journal is a sign of honesty and courage. You know, meeting with yourself is not always comfortable, and your journal is a continuous meeting with yourself.
I started journaling mainly because of my emotional overflow. I needed a safety valve, other than escapism, denial or alcohol. I used those safety valves before, until I actually rend them useless. They were not safety valves anymore, but addictions or psychological delusions. So I started to write whatever I felt when I was in a frustrating mood. I just wanted to know who I am and why some things are happening to me over and over again. I wanted to identify everything that made me angry, or sad, or even happy and joyful. It was an action triggered by a very high emotional state. It was an attempt to regain the balance between within and without. It was an act of relief and recharge.
After several days in which I wrote all of the pressuring stuff, I started to feel a difference. I was somehow relaxed. I felt like I processed it in some way, it was not on the inside anymore. I managed to get it out, put it in a safer place, and gain some relief over it. The emotional overflow finally found a way to flow. It felt good. But as the number of files started to grow on my folder, I began to actually read them, not only write them. It was the second important step I took. I started to actually understand.
I understand that the greatest advantage of a journal was not the fact that I could write something and take it out of my head, but the fact that I was able to read, days or week after, everything that I wrote. And then the real picture started to unfold. What I saw on the journal was not what I thought I was. Whatever was written there, it was different. I was a different person from the person I always knew I was. I started to know myself.
Reading the journal gave me a very important perspective: the measurer perspective. Having a safe place for storing my experiences finally revealed them in their real light and made them measurable by me. They were not only immaterial thoughts, they were readable sentences and paragraphs. I could compare them, I could group them, I could mix them the way I wanted.
Soon enough I started to analyze the journal. Or, to be more precise, the person behind that journal. And that was me, of course. Having a journal become my own self therapy, and I become my therapist. A very indulgent therapist, in the beginning, one that mainly acknowledged what was happening and rarely took action in any way. A passive measurer of my own life.
My life in a box
And then, after several months, I gradually gain some momentum. I started to journalize even when I was not on an emotional overflow. Knowing that I will measure everything later, I started to write things when I was in different states: stillness, relaxation, day dreaming, extremely focused, and so on. Little by little, myÂ whole life started to breathe in that journal.
I started to put there goals, to establish metrics, to identify opportunities, to reveal weaknesses. To make a long story short, I started to use journaling as a scaffold for my life. At that time I started to be interested in astrology and esotericism, in becoming a raw foodist and started to dramatically improve my relationships. It was like a veil was lifted off of my resources. And, even if this looks hard to believe, journaling had the key role in this transformation.
After two years I started my first blog. It was a personal blog in Romanian, my first language, and at that time I saw it like a normal evolution from journaling. I was soon to discover that blogging was a lot more than journaling. Because in blogging you start conversations, you have witnesses. In journaling the “dear diary” style, you are your own measurer, in blogging, you’re “naked” (assuming you’re an honest blogger) in front of an unknown audience.Â
The biggest difference between journaling and blogging is not the fact that blogging is public, but the fact that by this exposure it transforms your experiences in other people values. Whatever you write there, will be measured by others too. Whatever you create there, will become the scaffold for somebody else’s life. It’s not about you anymore, it is about other people around you. You’re not writing anymore, you’re sharing.
And that is a big responsibility. I guess any blogger have been through this process at some point. There is a point in which your “public journaling” will become blogging, and that point is the most important step to be taken by anyone who want blogging to be a fulfilling activity. By accepting responsibility for your posts, by understanding that everything you write can affect other people, perhaps in ways you couldn’t image before, by being honest in what you write, you create the premises for a successful blog. No matter if your blog is a news blog, or a personal development blog. As long as it’s an honest and responsible act of writing, as long as it really shares the values you believe in, it will create the potential for positive transformations. Guys from FirstSiteGuide can definitely help you achieve that.
Sharing for growth
That responsibility can also be understood like courage and generosity. Blogging is an act of courage, because you put your own experiences and talent in front of a potentially unlimited audience, and is an act of generosity because you put your own experiences and talent in front of a potentially unlimited audience. Exactly for the same reason, yes.
Taking the time to think how helpful journaling was for me, I can only imagine how a responsible and honest blogging could do for others. In fact, I think most of the influential and successful bloggers already know that. I also think that the vast majority of the unsuccessful bloggers, who are daily struggling for visibility, is just ignoring this simple principle:Â in order to be successful you have to contribute, you have to create value out of your experiences, you have to really share.Â
To share for growth.
16 thoughts on “Journaling versus Blogging”
Thank you, Dragos, for this great post. This confirms my intuition that journaling is the best therapy you can get. I’ll start making journaling a habit. Your smart approach on things inspires me deeply 🙂 Thanks again!
I have been reading your blogs for the past few hours, everything from ‘A Better Life in 100 Ways’ to “Life: 100 Ways to Screw Up Your Life’. I have been journaling since 2009 upon the recommendation of a sleep therapist. I soon found patterns evolving in the journal and this year have had several breakthroughs in why certain conflicts arise and the best way to manage them.
Last month, I started a blog and as you said, it is really sharing my thoughts with others. Now, whether or not I am being judged, it does not bother me. My premise is that if I can help just one person based on the up’s and down’s of my life, I’m satisfied. I see it as an extension of my journal and at times have more breakthrough’s in blogging than in journal writing. I still speak in the first person while blogging but also open it up for others to comment on and share their thoughts, suggestions and ideas.
So, that is the main difference I see in blogging and journaling; opening up the channels for others to chime in, which can help me in my progress and vice versa. God knows I can get lost in my own thoughts without ever really getting to a point when I journal. =)
All the best,
@Dana: have you had an “a-ha” moment when a reader of your blog mentioned you something, anything? That’s because of sharing, you offered to other people a way to interact with your opinions and created some value off of this interaction 🙂
@Secara: nope, never tried that, although I did tried a lot with mind mapping. Can you share more on that?
Have any of you tried to use mind maps to move from a purely “bla bla bla” style towards a simplified emotion-thought essential resume of the day?