Keeping a Journal: My Story

So, if you’re anything like me, you like the idea of keeping a journal. A place to keep your innermost feelings, who you are seeing, or want to be seeing, where you have been, who you have been fighting with, your deepest secrets, your secret ambitions and all the things you would never tell anyone. Putting it into practise however is always much more difficult than you anticipated!

From a very young age I wanted to keep a journal, and it would always start out great. I’d write for a few days and all would be fine…and then 6 months later I’d find it under my bed with 3 pages used and the rest empty. My journals were constantly full with “so….it’s 11 months since I last wrote in here…oops!”

I think I gave up on the idea of keeping a journal and it was only when I was travelling at age 18 that I started it again, without really realising it. I was in a different city or a different country almost every day and I just wanted to keep a record of where I was each day so I could keep my photos in order when I got back.

It started as just a list:
“2nd – Lima
3rd – Lima
4th – Nazca
5th – Arequipa”

Then I started to want to remember certain things I did in each place…

“6th – Chivay – Hot Springs, Birds called ‘Condors’, Canyon, Baby Llamas.
7th – Maca – Chincilla, Cold, Altitude, Cemetery.”

Soon, I was writing lists and short sentences so I could remember the wonderful things I was doing…

“19th – Isla Del Sol – Scaled clifftops, Waded cold water, Jumped swamps, Trod in marshes, Climbed forest, Jumped walls, walked through nettles and crawled under barbed wire, just to find our way back to where we were staying! NEARLY DIED – 5hrs 20mins lost!”

After this wonderful 6 week trip around Peru and Bolivia, I headed home for a bit, and then headed out to Africa. I didn’t write anything while I was home, but as soon as I got out there, I started keeping a journal “properly” and wrote full paragraphs almost every day….

“Day 4 – Masai Mara – Kenya.
Today was incredible. We left at 8.20am and drove to the park. After seeing loads of zebra, various types of antelope and some warthogs we heard that there were some cheetahs in the area. We drove towards them and saw 2 cheetahs and a group of gazelles. Cheetahs are so beautiful! Soon there were 4 of them – a mum and 3 babies. The mother was teaching the babies to hunt with an injured baby gazelle – Incredible! A once in a lifetime sighting!”

One thing I love about keeping a journal is that you can catch your immediate reactions to things (good or bad) and remember them. While I was in Africa, I got the call that told me I had got into Drama School. One of the most surreal moments of my life, sat in a tent getting offered my dream place, and I wrote it all down after so I can still remember it!

“Day 7 – Arusha – Tanzania
Last night was indescribable! At 11ish my phone rang, it was facing down and I assumed it was mum or dad, I turned it over and saw “+44141…” the glasgow dialling code! I answered the phone and it was the head of the course! He asked me if it was a good time – I said “I’m in Africa, but yeah, I can talk!” He has offered me a place! I think I must have made a bit of an arse of myself on the phone going “Oh My God” and “Thank You So Much” but I don’t care! I just got off the phone and cried. After all the crying and lots of phone calls to mum and dad I had to listen to my iPod just to relax a bit so I could get some sleep! I still can’t believe I’m in. I wish I had a recording of the conversation or something to prove that it’s real.”

I still read over this journal when I need reminding of what a great time I had out there. If you have never travelled by yourself I throughly encourage doing it!

I thought I wouldn’t keep on writing a journal when I got back, but when I started at drama school (10 days after I got back from Africa!) they actively encouraged writing a log of what we were learning and how we felt about it, and I found I had so much going on in my head it was very easy to get in the habit of off-loading it all!

Here I am, 7 years after my original “list journal” in South America, and I have PILES of them! They document so much of the past 7 years of my life, good and bad, and it is so good to read over them and realise that something you think might be the end of the world, you will look back on and laugh – and I can literally look back on it, on a page, and read everything I was feeling at that time.

If anything, keeping a journal gives me perspective. I don’t keep it every day, just when something happens I want to remember, or when I’m over thinking something and want to work out where my head is at – Starting a journal is one of the best things I’ve ever done, despite the several journals I have that only have 3 pages used and then an apology!

I have also written a post of my top ten tips to keeping or starting a journal which will be online on Thursday of this week.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    January 28, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I also really like the idea of keeping a daily/weekly journal, but I have never been able to keep at it. I get why you ended up starting with a travel journal, those are the only ones I seem able to keep. Maybe it's to give context to the photos I take, maybe it's because I have more time when I travel, I don't know, but I really enjoy "journaling" when on the move!

    -Cécile –

  • Reply
    Rosie Ladkin
    July 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    I really struggled for years – I still go through periods when I can't write, but when I do, I find that I learn a lot about what's going on in my life and how I really feel about it.
    I do enjoy travel journalling a lot thought – it seems easier somehow.

    R xx

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.