I've never consistently kept one, until now. More often than not, the only reason I keep a journal is because it's required of me. In high school, our English teachers had us keep a regular journal and I remember when we'd suddenly start writing entries as we approached the submission date. Nowadays, it's still required by some of our classes in college but I have managed to keep a journal, albeit one in an unconventional form.
Perhaps one of the reasons why I failed to keep a journal is because it required me to write, or more precisely, to handwrite it. I was never known for my penmanship, dexterity, or persistence when it came to jotting down something. Besides, my hands could never keep up with what I was thinking. What was managed to be put on paper was a pale comparison to my ideas. I usually just settle for something less, and let my hands heal from the arduous labor. The fact that I'm settling for less was an indicator that I'd rather not keep one if I'm not motivated to give it my best.
Another factor was trust, or should I say, my lack of it. I was never comfortable with the Catholic practice of confession, mentioning all your sins to a person, even if he is an embodiment of Christ. How much more with a journal where I will pour out everything I feel, everything I think? People who read it might think how horrible a person I really am, or sometimes, I'm just plain embarrassed. What if the reader can't get over what they read? They'll always have a stigma when they see or talk to me.
And of course, there's always time. Some people have lots of it, some people don't, and some people just want to get rid of it. Until recently, I never really took the time to write what I was feeling and contemplating. I had enough time to think and deliberate but put it down somewhere? That's a different story. Of course I do occasionally write when I need to vent my emotions somewhere. But those are rare moments and I'd hardly call them journal entries. They're more like essays, I like to think.
So what made me change? For one thing, my course is creative writing. One of my teachers said that I should be writing all the time and I firmly believe that to be a necessity for a writer. It doesn't matter what form your writing takes, be it a poem, an essay, a report, or *gasp*, a journal entry. Of all those choices available, it's journal writing that I see myself doing every single day. Composing a poem can be a chore. Writing in my journal is a hobby. What choice would you have made?
Second, for all my unwieldy skills when it came to handwriting, I'm a whiz when it comes to typing. The computer has been my favorite tool and is perhaps one I overuse. With the emergence of the Internet, cyberspace has become my entire hard drive and I needn't worry that my work will be gone forever. Once I put something on the net, it will always be there. And I can do it anywhere, from the school's computer room to an Internet café down the street.
Lastly, the emergence of web logs or blogs has changed the face of journal writing. For one thing, journals were never really meant to be read publicly. However, people are now posting up their ideas and daily lives for everyone (or at least their friends) to see. The concept of a journal has forever been changed. Perhaps because of that, I've overcome my fear. In fact, it might make people (and myself) understand me better. If worse comes to worse, there are other people out there who have written more humiliating and shocking stuff than I. I'm not alone in this world. Weird perhaps, but never alone.