Blogging can't replace journaling

By Carol / September 4, 2012 /

For years I journaled, filling dozens of notebooks with mental wanderings–the events of the day, my thoughts, my joys, my hurts. Some days, I’d sit on the deck with my journal for more than an hour, enjoying a cup of coffee, watching nature unfold in our back yard, letting the journal do its healing work. Often by the time I finished writing, I’d have worked through some thought process, solved some mental problem I didn’t even know I had.

When I took up blogging, I journaled less. I enjoyed the challenge of fitting my thoughts into 300-400 words. I figured that my blog was serving the same purpose as my journal. But I was wrong.

I’ve realized as time has gone on that blog writing is edited writing in more ways than one. It’s a single thought as clearly stated as I can make it. It’s a single thought I’m willing to put out to the world. Frustrated with a work assignment? Spat with my husband? Anger at some perceived injustice? I know some people air all that laundry in their blogs, but that’s not me.

More important, though, I couldn’t spill all that out because it’s writing about an event that helps me understand not only the details of what happened but also why it affects me so and what I could possibly do to resolve the issue and get myself to a better place. It’s writing as I used to do in my journal–rambling on for 5-10 pages–that helps me get my head around the problem.

When anxiety had built to an unbearable level in my chest last week, I finally realized I needed to write freely, for myself, without an audience. I needed my journal back. So, yesterday, I was back on the deck, journal and pen in one hand, cup of coffee in the other. I wrote for two hours. And believe me, I feel better.

So whether there’s time in my life, or not, I’ll be journaling again.

All you writers out there. Do you journal? Do you blog? Do you see the same difference in the writing that I have? Or do you see it differently? I’m interested in your thoughts.

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  1. annamaria bazzi on September 4, 2012 at 9:29 am

    you are correct, blogs and journal serve a every different purpose even in my life. like you i pour out my feelings, frustrations, joys, and try to figure out how to solve problems. these are personal things that stay between me and my journal.
    in my blog i’ll talk about my family, but it’s different, it’s more bosting, showing my pride, or inviting my readers into a funny episode around my table.
    both do one thing for me, they help me improve my writing

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 4, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Writing both ways definitely improves my writing, too, Annamaria. In fact, one of the things I journaled about yesterday was approaches to two character descriptions I’m working on in my novel. Pen in hand results in a different result than fingers on keyboard.

  2. Raymond Paker on September 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I just took a holiday, and brought my neglected journal with me. I also updated my blog a couple of times, from motel rooms.

    I found both difficult for some reason. Perhaps the holiday was demanding a break from all self-imposed commitments. Incidentally, I took along the journal I wrote eighteen-years-ago, when I last visited the area of my travels. It contained a lot more detail than I was able to muster the last two weeks, even though I was riding a bicycle on the former journey, while driving this time.

    Perhaps the driving left me too tired to write down the days’ impressions, or I was unimpressed by life passing by the windscreen. I’m now planning another “getaway” dedicated solely to writing.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Sounds like you needed a break from writing, Raymond. I know I’m more inspired sometimes than others. How lucky that you had the 18-year-old journal to refer to! I do a writing retreat at least once a year and I find these days very productive.

  3. Mary Gottschalk on September 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    A month ago, I don’t know that I would have said there was a big difference. But as I continue in my role as “blogger-in-chief” for the Above & Beyond Cancer trip to Tibet, I realize how much I need to ponder what I am seeing and hearing about the extra-ordinary people on this journey. Many of my blog ideas don’t emerge until I have been journaling for several days about specific incidents or ideas or concerns that seem to crop up repeatedly. Blogging is actually more fun than I expected, but it isn’t the same as journaling!

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Exactly right, Mary. Journaling lets me catch impressions when they’re fresh but the focus of a blog may not come until much later, if at all. Glad you’re finding some fun in blogging.

  4. Emily on September 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I actually enjoy both journaling and bogging. My journal has more of a spiritual aspect to it. It is where I hash out my deepest desires, emotions, frustrations and joy. It holds so many keys to my soul. It is also the method I choose for prayer. Blogging, however, is what I choose to share with others. It, too, contains my desires and emotions, but not nearly to the same depth.

    I choose to respect those I’m closest to by not airing my frustrations and conflicts on the web. We’ve all seen the culmination of breakups via social media, but does anyone actually enjoy reading the pointed jabs on Facebook and Twitter feeds? Why would anyone want to read a longer account of the conflict?

    To me, journaling and blogging are both valuable means of communication, but on vastly different levels. The way I blog reflects the way I might communicate with a friend or family member; the way i journal reflects only the way I might communicate to myself.

  5. Carol Bodensteiner on September 5, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I agree, Emily. We don’t really need all the details of those personal (and preferably, private) conflicts! I find both approaches to communication valuable, too. Journaling helps me think through often complicated issues. Blogging allows me to practice clear, concise communication.

  6. Shirley on September 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I do both also, Carol. When I travel, I like to journal. Then I often take the journal and photos and try to create a unified blog post out of those sources. The journal is for meandering and sending shoots of thought out different directions. It also allows more emotional turmoil. Here’s a post I did using a journal of a trip to Greece and Turkey this summer in case you are interested :

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 6, 2012 at 9:33 am

      I am even more inclined to be faithful in journaling when I travel, Shirley. There are so many new things we see I know I’d forget if I waited even a day to write them down. Putting the whole trip into one blog is a new idea and I like it. I spent a month in Italy last year and blogged every day – in a travelogue sort of way. When I returned, I gathered all of those posts into a Blog2Print book. A wonderful memory book I can share with others more easily than sending them to my blog.

  7. Maryann Miller on September 6, 2012 at 8:53 am

    You are so right about the differences between journaling and blogging. I would never put into cyberspace some of the things that I put in my journal. Mary’s comment about using her journal to ponder what she is seeing and hearing from the people she is journeying with really resonated with me. Made me think of when I was in training to be a chaplain and we had to write a weekly reflection on an encounter with a patient or crisis incident as a way of debriefing. Out of those came a better understanding of ourselves, and that is how I see journaling.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 6, 2012 at 9:01 am

      “A way of debriefing” – I like that Maryann. That’s often what my journaling seems like. I used to sit with my coworkers after I’d met with a client. I’d tell them my thoughts on what happened and then I’d tell them to ask me questions because their questions would make me think of things I hadn’t remembered. My journal is like someone sitting with me asking questions.

  8. Robin on September 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Carol, I think you hit the nail on the head. I believe a blog post and a journal entry are very different things. I write freely and effusively in my journal, as a means of kicking my internal editor out of the room. But I craft blog posts carefully, and edit them, and strive for both brevity and clarity, which may not be in abundance during free writing in my journal. Great post. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

      Thanks, Robin. My journal is rambling and disjointed. Post that on a blog and people would think I’d gone off the deep end! I do try to do better on my blog ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Christina Taylor on September 27, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Hi Carol,
    I totally agree. Journal writing has been the one thing that has kept me ‘sane’ over the years.
    I also have a blog site, but that’s very different to my journal. I was once told by a literary agent that my first book, being a collection of journal entries, would never be published by anyone and I would be better off just ‘blogging’ to get the content out into the world. He is no longer a literary agent, but I am a published (and not self-published) author. I published my first book this year – three years of journal entries I wrote during the onset of clinical depression. He was wrong ๐Ÿ™‚
    Many people have read my book and admire that I was brave enough to publish my actual journal entries. Being under a lot of stress lately, I too returned to writing in my journal and automatically it reduced my stress levels. I now make a point of writing in my journal whenever I need to – if I don’t write down my thoughts etc I do get stressed out. No matter how busy life gets, keep up the journal entries ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kind Regards,

    • Carol Bodensteiner on September 27, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Well done, Christina! Readers are taken with the real-time nature of a journey shared on a blog. It was brave – and also helpful to others – to write the reality of your experience. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  10. DM Stoddard on March 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I struggle to Facebook, Tweet, blog, and write on my second book in the Kingdom of Torrence series. Then life interjects

    I do keep notes and a calendar of things I must finish.

    I guess my journal is in the form of conversations with my bride of nearly 18 years. We steal a few precious moments away each day to be with each other. She is my confidant and adviser.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on March 16, 2013 at 8:30 am

      I struggle right along with you to keep all the writing and social media going simultaneously. My journal doesn’t get the everyday attention that it did before I started my novel and got into using social media to market. I think we all do what we can, in the time we can devote to doing it.

      What a wonderful way to think about your conversations with your wife.

  11. Laurie Buchanan on August 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    In my experience, blogging and journaling are in the “same church, but a different pew.” Journaling is for my eyes only. Blogging is for the world at large.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on August 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      Great analogy, Laurie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  12. Estrella Azul on December 27, 2013 at 10:33 am

    You are spot on, I think.
    I mean, thinking only as far as my own blog, this is reason enough for me to stay as cryptic as possible about some issues I’m talking-yet-not-really-talking about. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Carol Bodensteiner on December 27, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    “talking-yet-not-really-talking about” – It’s an interesting exercise, isn’t it, Estrella? I often write blogs that carry a message to any reader but have a deep subtext in my own life.

  14. Margaret on August 18, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Yes – it’s so hard to keep up with both, and to find the virtues in both. One is unedited and just for me, one is for the public. But when you blog a lot, it’s hard to journal without always having the perceived audience in your head somewhere. I find the effort worth it, though.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on August 18, 2014 at 8:35 am

      You make a good point about having “the perceived audience in your head,” Margaret. Even when I journal, I sometimes find myself thinking about who might find and read what I write. I like to think I’m being completely open, but …

      Thanks for joining the discussion.

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