Keep a Journal – Live Longer

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

“What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it. Dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it.” ~Walter Scott

I can agree with Mr. Scott on that. I’ve made good use of several diaries when working on this or that book. But keeping a diary can be good in more ways than that. At Mom’s yesterday, the television was on to some kind of doctor quiz show. One of the questions they asked the audience is what could make a person live longer and one of the choices was keeping a journal. As it turned out all the choices were right, but the keeping a journal answer got me thinking of how I should have a few years added onto my years if journal writing helps. 

I’ve been writing in a journal since I was a teen and now here I am writing in this on-line journal a couple of times a week. For fun I pulled out my old journal. Yes, of course I still have it. I don’t throw away handwritten words! So here’s a line from one of my first journal entries. “This is my fifteenth summer & so far it hasn’t been much.” But somehow for years I’ve found something to write about even if it wasn’t much. According to these doctors, whether it was much or not, I was doing something healthy when I took pen in hand and started writing to myself.

Here’s another bit I dipped into the old journal and found that made me smile. “When (and if) I get married, I’m going to keep my house where spring cleaning won’t be necessary.” I actually probably believed that when I was writing it. Some goal, huh? And one that I conveniently forgot for all these years. Of course, I forgot to spring clean too. Spring zooms by so fast I don’t have time to get out the brooms and mops. I’m too busy writing in my journal.

That one made me smile but some of those early entries make me cringe now when I read them. I was so very young. The doctors didn’t say it made you live longer to read what you wrote. LOL. So maybe it’s better to write and then forget about what you’ve written the way I did about that keeping my house spic and span. 

Over the years, I’m sure I’ve written thousands of words – to myself. It’s a great way to let off steam without burning anybody else. A journal is a good place to whine and complain without casting a pall over anybody else’s world. But it’s also a good place to rejoice and celebrate and remember. It’s good to know it’s healthy for me too. So now maybe I’ll have extra years for filling up journals whether with important words or not. Here’s another entry made after I did get married. Wasn’t much “if” to that after all. “No, I have nothing extremely important to tell you, but sometimes it’s more fun to just begin writing with no special thought.”

I always imagined I was writing to someone when I wrote in my journals. And now here I am writing this to someone too – to you. Thanks for reading. By the way, I’m sending out a newsletter with a new giveaway chance tomorrow. Let me know if you’d like to be on my newsletter list if you aren’t already. And keep journaling and blogging and we’ll all be healthy forever.

When I was still in prep school – 14, 15 – I started
keeping notebooks, journals. I started writing, almost like landscape
drawing or life drawing. I never kept a diary, I never wrote about my
day and what happened to me, but I described things.
~John Irving