It wasn’t my first experience with writing, but it was my first significant experience. I was 16 and struggling with depression.
My father and I used to take walks around the neighborhood and talk about things; we’d been doing it for years, and it was truly fun for a long time. By 16, however, it reached a point where I became so upset in some of our conversations that he was unable to help me himself. He sent me to a counselor he knew. The counselor urged me to start writing a journal, a place to unload my thoughts and feelings. I still remember the first night I set out to do this: lying on my shag carpet with a sleeping bag and small writing lamp, the spiral red notebook laid out in front of me with my pen ready.
I’m 47 now, and I keep a journal every day. I haven’t written every day since I was 16, but I have done a lot of writing in it since then.
The writer Jack Kerouac bragged to his friend William Burroughs in the 1940s that he had already written over a million words. I have easily written that many in journals since I was 16.
Writing has helped me. Writing in a journal has helped me find my voice. It is a place for me, by me. I don’t have to worry about any requirements. I write to please myself. In doing so, I have learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned what I like and dislike about my words.
I recommend that anyone keep a journal. It’s a great place to work out your problems and without pressure or judgment. And if we read our entries, we can learn about ourselves and grow like the grass in summer.