Dear Diary: The importance of keeping a journal

Victoria Herrera

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You have the authority and freedom to decide what you want your life to look like

WHAT'S YOUR STORY? It's time to write -- or type -- it down. All photos by Victoria Herrera

MANILA, Philippines – “Dear Diary, Carlo sat beside me today. He’s so cute. Sabi niya, I’m pretty…!”

If you were a kid growing up in the ’90s Philippines, you would remember this catchy Tender Juicy Hotdog commercial air everywhere. At the time, this was all I thought journaling was about: talking about whom you met at school, who said what, what your classmates did or what new Lisa Frank binder you wanted to buy.

It was all really simple then. 

But as we grow older, our experiences become far from simple and we begin to censor our selves. We censor parts of our selves for fear of making mistakes, looking stupid or disappointing others.

We begin to change our ways of being to imitate other people’s thoughts and ideas.

Journaling then changes its role from being a superficial list of the day’s events to a platform where we can reveal and discover our true selves again. 

The uncensored you

Provided you create a safe space for yourself, where you keep your journal for your eyes only, the process of divulging your real thoughts and feelings on paper can be truly therapeutic. One can really clarify one’s thoughts and achieve a whole new level of personal honesty with journaling. 

According to the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, a good way to break down your “blocks” in life is by free-writing at least 3 pages of your thoughts every morning. She calls this exercise the “morning pages” practice. 


This stream of consciousness approach allows your mind to become more creative and expressive; you write freely without worrying about anyone judging you. It’s okay if your grammar is wrong. It’s okay if you don’t spell it right.

Let things flow and do not judge yourself. These pages provide a safe space, after all.

I tried this exercise for 12 weeks until I finished the book, and the impact it had on my mind was enormous. For the first few weeks, it was hard to discipline myself to write because I didn’t either feel motivated or know what I would write about.

Eventually, I just started with one sentence which would flow to 5; and it reached one page, which flowed to 3. When I stopped overthinking about what to write about and I just let my self go, I filled up the pages in the heat of the moment.

After each writing session, I felt like a load was lifted off my shoulders. 

I realized that once we admit our feelings on paper, the emotions melt away. Many of us have the habit of brushing aside feelings of hurt, anger, depression or shame, and do not allow ourselves to feel. We bury these resentments deep down in our soul where they eventually weigh us down.

Journaling can help these feelings come to light so you can acknowledge them and move forward. Sometimes, you may not even know you’ve held on to these feelings for so long. It’s best to just start writing and let your mind guide you to a deeper space of revelation. 

Dream on paper

There is the saying, “A goal not written is only a wish.” Journaling is also a great way to concretize goals and dreams on paper. 

Sometimes, we are often scared to voice out our personal dreams for fear of being ridiculed. Maybe someone will tell you, “You’re crazy, you can’t do that” or “That’s too difficult, just stick to what you know.” These naysayers have the tendency to flatten your dreams before you even finish the sentence.

Allowing yourself to express your dreams freely encourages you to strengthen your personal vision for your life. You have the authority and freedom to decide how you want your life to look like. 

My best friend loves to write in his journal every week. Every Sunday, he takes time out to review his goals from last week, and to write out his goals for the next. It gives him the time to reflect on how far he has come, and imagine how further he aims to grow.

His journal also serves as a mini scrapbook where he tapes sentimental photos, movie tickets, concert stubs and notes. It’s a carefully curated documentation of his journey through life, as he moves from life stage to life stage. 

Using your journal to visualize your future helps strengthen your ability to make it come true. By reviewing your direction, you use your imagination to help you discover the steps to get there. You make sure you are on the right track.

I have always believed in the power of writing down your goals and visions because planning on paper helps clarify your focus. 

Give thanks

Lastly, journaling is a great place to give thanks. I am always reminded of the power of gratitude in our everyday lives. It has been said that what you are thankful for multiplies. 

We may never have the things we want all at the same time. One day we have a great career yet our love life is complicated; or we find the perfect partner and yet we have a hard time finding the perfect job. Instead of waiting for things to become “perfect” in your life, begin by giving thanks for everything you have instead. 

A gratitude journal can raise your energy level and shift your mood. It also changes your perspective on how you view the situations that happen to you. Make it a practice to consciously go through the day and list all the blessings you received. 

For example, instead of remembering how you were stuck in traffic, perhaps you were able to bond with your parents in the car. Or instead of remembering how annoying your boss was, you could give thanks that you were able to meet all your deadlines just in time for the long weekend.

Life may not be perfect all the time, but the blessings are there if we choose to recognize them.

Why not begin journaling today? Or if you’re already journaling, how can you take it to the next level?

Creating personal time for free writing, goal setting or giving thanks is a powerful practice.

Always remember that there is great value within the pages you write. –

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Victoria Herrera

Victoria Herrera is a TV and event host, model, and writer. In 2011, she released her first book, “Unscripted,” based on inspiring conversations on her previous radio show. In 2012, she hosted Runway TV Asia where she interviewed international fashion designers and celebrities. Currently based between Manila and Singapore, she continues to explore the world of creativity, design, and fashion as a contributor for several magazines and newspapers.

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