No more forgotten stories: students and faculty emphasize importance of keeping a journal

Written by: 
Hannah Jones

Journaling is a great way to work through emotions, record stories for posterity, get more comfortable with writing, and monitor spiritual progression, according to BYU-Hawaii students and faculty.

Stephanie Robertson, a special instructor of English, has her students write in a journal every day. She said, “I love journaling because I feel like it helps [students] to break whatever is holding them back in writing. They’ll prove to themselves that they [can] and do write something.”

Robertson found herself journaling at a young age because of encouragement from her mother. She stated, “I never felt like I was good in school, but I loved to write. Something would just click, and I think journaling had a lot to do with that.

“I think it helps you to work through things. I think it helps you to solidify where you stand and how you feel, and to just get it all out on the page sometimes just makes people feel better. It helps you to understand yourself better.”

Sierra Ford, a freshman majoring in psychology from California, writes in a journal once a week. She said, “The things I write down the most are spiritual experiences so I am able to recognize the Lord’s hand in my life more.”

Although Ford uses journaling primarily for the spiritual aspects of her life, she said, “You can’t record history with just spiritual things. You need to know where those spiritual things fall into your everyday life. You can’t just write the spiritual things because then there’s no context to it.”

Ford keeps a journal so she can review how something felt when she was experiencing it “so that you can help other people, especially your future kids. … As time goes by, you think something was a certain way, but it wasn’t.”

In addition to journaling for posterity, Robertson mentioned, “Most of my journaling now is … about my kids, just so we can all look back together and remember the good times and the trials we got through.”

“Not everything has to be kept for posterity,” she added. Journaling can help people “work something out” and move on.

Trella Schlutsmeyer, a freshman majoring in art from California, writes in a journal about once a week. She said, “For a long time I didn’t keep a journal, but whenever my family members told their stories, I always wished I could read it from their journals, but none of them ever kept one.”

Schlutsmeyer started her own journal so she could tell her own story. While struggling with what to write about, Schlutsmeyer said she realized, “You don’t have to write a lot. Some people get it in their heads that it has to be perfect. You don’t have to worry about what you’re writing.”

Robertson added to the sentiment: “Start where you are. I think what is helpful for everyone is to write down how they feel so that it can either help them in the moment, or they can look back at it someday and learn from it.”

“It’s something you won’t regret,” added Robertson, “and if you write something you regret, there is something totally cathartic in crumpling that up and throwing it away.

“There is so much value in journaling. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes it’s just good for a laugh. … It can help you alleviate stress. It can help you to work through big decisions. It can help you feel better through trials.”

Date Published: 
Friday, January 19, 2018
Last Edited: 
Friday, January 19, 2018

NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Jan. 2018 print issue.