Why Do I Keep a Journal?

Recently I was asked by someone very close to me, “Johnny, why do you keep a journal? What do you get out of it?”

Ever since I was a fifteen year old in high school, I have kept a journal. I haven’t always had the most disciplined writing schedule but I was originally turned on to the idea by my high school Improvisation teacher. At the time, I despised him for making us journal because I really thought it was a busy-work task and got nothing out of it. We were required to fill five pages each week and he would check the journal. You could literally have written “F-U” on every line of each page until you satisfied the requirement. He didn’t read the journal, but he skimmed it just to make sure there was content.

Thirteen years and fifteen journals later, I have Sean Stomski to thank for giving me my power.

How does journaling give me power?

My journal was the first entity that listened to me without offering advice or judgment after I was finished venting. It never asked why, it never gave me a look, it never said I shouldn’t feel a certain way and it was always there for me. All I had to do was turn to the current page, open a pen and unload. Journaling gave and still gives me mental clarity, problem resolution, a constant friend and a lifelong companion that does everything I command it to. You can’t treat people that way! 

I have made self-revelations through journaling, I have had fantastic ideas and I have also had to admit some awful truths to myself about my life that were essentially preventing me from moving forward with my life and the beauty that awaited me. I could escape into my own world, like some people do when they read books. I do not enjoy reading books and to this day, have really only enjoyed reading four; The Juror, The Secret, The Power and The Magic. I’m talking about books I couldn’t put down and would finish in a day or two. I have to be captivated, I have to be interested, I have to be consumed in what I’m focusing on. Well, take those same requirements and place them on journaling. If the focus is on me, by me, for me and from me, then I will find myself captivating, interesting, and will be consumed in myself and my life and how I want to live.

Journaling offers me a time of peace, solitude, reflection, meditation and reassurance that my life is always better than I think it is. Journaling reminds me about the things I strive to remember and focus on every day. In fact, journaling is so important to me, I often get up an hour earlier than I have to on some mornings just so I make sure I have time to write.

If you’ve tried to journal and just can’t wrap your head around it, try my simple guidelines and give it another try someday:

1. This is not a competition and no one is going to grade you.

2. Write about whatever your mind has going on, in a conversational style like you’re telling your best friend all of this information, no matter what it is.

3. Write until you feel clear. Get out whatever is on your mind.

4. Go back and read your past entries when you’re ready. Chances are, you’ll write about something you never consciously knew was bothering you and you can choose to acknowledge that your issue exists and you can take the necessary measures to change.

5. Have fun. Get a colorful book, shop for fine leather, spend as much as you’re comfortable spending on it (the highest I’ve ever paid is $45) and remember that this book contains something very precious – you.

“There is no definitive “right” time to reflect on yourself and your life, but there is always a “write” time to journal.” – Johnny Potrekus

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