February 6, 2017, by Words on Words

The Advantages of Keeping a Journal

This blog post was written by second year English with Creative Writing student, Thomas Hughes.

Keeping a journal is one of those things many of us say we’re going to do, yet never quite get round to doing. We’re so busy that we forget about it, we’re too tired at the end of the day to write, or we’re simply too lazy to buy one.

I had been using the above excuses for years, yet for Christmas 2016 one of my presents was a Game of Thrones Lannister journal (have always thought of myself as a Stark but never mind). Being such a nice journal, I simply had to fill its pages.

Author’s own image

And since then (not every day, I must admit), for the first time in my life I have been keeping a journal. For someone who wants to be a writer, this seems long overdue, and since starting I have asked myself several times why on earth I didn’t make this change a long time ago.

Sometimes I write at the end of the day, sometimes first thing the next morning. The writing itself is a mixture of what happened during the day and, more prominently, the thoughts and feelings that coloured it (note that this is why it is a journal and not just a diary). Much of the writing is not of the highest quality, but as the only reader is myself, this hardly matters.

Indeed I am writing it for myself. Many writers say that their craft is therapeutic, and writing candidly about your own hopes, worries and expectations is especially so.

For me, the best way to make sense of confusing feelings and get rid of anxieties that keep whirling around my head is to ‘write them out’ (in a similar way to Professor Dumbledore pulling his memories out of his head with his wand and ‘casting them away’ into the Pensieve). Get your thoughts down on paper, and your head feels clearer.

Image: MyPixa / CC0 1.0

Writing a chronological, day-by-day account of your university life is also a great way of tracking your progress, not just as a student but as a human being. Occasionally, I flick back a few pages in my journal and read about insecurities that I have conquered, challenges I have overcome. A journal can be a reminder that day-to-day concerns are trivial compared to the bigger picture of your growth as a person.

You may have given up on several New Year’s resolutions already, but it’s never too late to change your life. With a bit of discipline, keeping a journal isn’t difficult, so why not try it?

If nothing else, it’ll give you an excuse to buy a cool piece of stationery.

Thomas Hughes


Posted in Student Words