“The Way In: Journal Writing for Self-Discovery” by Rita D. Jacobs

Cover of "The Way In: Journal Writing for...

Cover via Amazon

If like me you love to read books on writing in order to motivate yourself to write or if like me you like to read books on writing to get ideas of what and how to write or if like me you like to read books on writing just for the hell of it, then this little book is one you should pick up.

I have many journals (mainly because the attractive covers lure me into buying them so I’m almost always starting afresh in a new book) and usually I just write in them whenever I feel like and write about whatever I feel like at the moment. Most times I think I treat them like a diary – writing about all the things I did in a particular day. Other times I think I treat them as they ought to – writing about what I’ve observed on a particular day. My idea of a journal is a book where a person documents her observations of people, places, things, and ideas.

According to Jacobs, a journal is a place where all these things are documented and much more. To prove this to us, she opens with excerpts of journal entries, showing us how writers have used the journal in their daily lives. She also talks about whether or not there is a difference between a journal and a diary. Like any writing book, Jacobs also covers when to write, how often to write, and what to write. Basically, that’s all up to the writer. You decide when, how, or what.

What I’ve learned from this book is how many types of journals there are. I had no idea that there were that many. You can keep a healing and crisis journal, a scrapbook journal, a gratitude journal, or an avocation journal. Also there are many ways of documenting in a journal other than simply writing paragraph after paragraph of thoughts. You can make lists or draw instead.

A journal is one of the many ways of documenting one’s experience and it’s great to have a book of your life that you can read over as you grow older. You can learn from yourself. Well, so I think. Others, as Jacobs discusses in the book, write an entry or fill an entire journal and destroy it after. I can’t see myself doing that even to one particular journal that I haven’t grown the balls to read over as yet. Every time I try, I punk out on the first page – too scared to read over those painful and embarrassing moments.

The Way In is easy to read and follow and it is a short book so it won’t take long to read. Along with the types of journals and types of entries, Jacobs also give ideas of what you can consider to base an entry on. Though, she also advises that you not force an entry. Just let it flow from your unconscious and onto the paper. Don’t try to control it. Don’t edit as you write.

Jacobs also discusses writing a memoir based off your journal. This discussion, along with tips from the book, is also available as a multipart series on Biographile. Check it out!

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