I’ve always been fascinated with journals, but horrible about keeping one myself. Every time the urge to start writing one came over me I’d buy a new diary and fill the first twenty or so pages. After a while my fervor would wane and yet another partially completed journal would be added to the dusty pile.
Years later I’ve found a fantastic way to keep a sort of journal, as well as keeping extended family and friends informed on all that’s going on in our little home. I also discovered one of the biggest reasons my earlier attempts at journaling never really took off: I type faster than I write.
Writing everything out is agonizing for me. In the time it takes me to write one sentence my brain has gone ahead a good two paragraphs. It gets frustrating. Yet when I sit down to the computer my fingertips are allowed to fly over the keyboard fast enough to keep up with most of my thoughts.
Pair this with the brilliant invention of e-mail, and I’m set. Once every month I sit down to the computer and try to relate all that’s gone on with our family over the previous thirty or so days. I might go person by person or, if the month was busy enough, by event. Sometimes the e-mails can be really long, other times it’s just a quick note.
The fact that others out there are reading this limits a lot of what I might say when compared to a private journal. It doesn’t stop me from sharing what I can, however, especially since one day it’ll be a fantastic record of our family life.
E-mails aren’t your only option. Online Blogging is now one of the most popular forms of communication and record keeping (A blog is short for Web Log). You can update your blog daily, weekly, or whenever the mood strikes. Some Blogs are open only to those with the password to maintain privacy, or it can be open to all.
If you’re not much of a typist, try using a voice recorder. I’d recommend doing this in any case, especially for a Family Home Evening one night. It leaves your children with the sound of your voice – something no one thinks about missing until the loved one is gone. Kids of all ages enjoy listening to themselves on tape.
If it’s been a while since you last did a journal entry, and the idea of recalling your entire childhood seems daunting, take a breath. Don’t worry about starting with your own childhood. Begin at this point with your own kids. Children love to hear stories about when to remember what my almost ten-year old was like when she was a baby would require hypnosis.
I must warn you, however, to keep a hard copy or separate disk of your entries. If your computer crashed, a fire happened, or any other unexpected emergency occurred you’d lose all that hard work. Every few months I transfer everything to a CD and put it in our fireproof safe. If you use a recorder, either ask someone to transcribe the tapes or make copies and place them somewhere else. These can be transferred to CD as well.
Encourage your children to begin their own journals. Moira Tyrell, one of our writers here, was inspired by Elder Eyring’s most recent talk at the October General Conference. Now her family takes about 15 minutes at the end of their family home evening time to write in a journal. This is such a great way to keep the tradition strong.
Try a few different techniques until you find one that works for you. I guarantee you’ll find yourselves keeping a family record your children, and perhaps even grandchildren, will treasure for years.