Keeping a Sentence-a-Day Journal

Welcome, dear readers!

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The ability to write isn’t just for telling stories; it’s also for treasuring your unique story.

After losing my beloved dog in mid-2017, I couldn’t seem to find my equilibrium in life. While navigating my grief, I desperately needed ways to ground myself instead of drifting in a sorrowful haze. During this time, I began the habit of keeping a sentence-a-day journal (sometimes called a line-a-day journal).

I bought the little journal pictured above, the statement on its cover serving as a simultaneous reminder and challenge to me. I made my first entry on July 21, 2017 and now, almost a year and eight months later, I’m still making entries in this journal. In fact, keeping my sentence-a-day journal has become one of my favorite habits.

When I began making entries, I sometimes used my daily sentence to complain or mope. But around the beginning of 2018, I decided that I needed to make each entry something positive—not fake, mind you, but something that acknowledged how blessed I am. There has to be at least one positive thing worth recording in every day that I live. On hard days when I can’t think of anything, sometimes I just write a sentence like, “God is still faithful” or copy a Bible verse that’s particularly meaningful to me at the time.

Maybe you’re not a big fan of journaling, but especially if you’re a writer, I encourage you to give a sentence-a-day journal a try. (Any journal will work, but there are some journals specifically designed for this practice.) Here are some benefits I’ve gained:

  • Writing a sentence a day makes me more mindful of my life and the story it’s telling. The more aware I am of the real stories in everyday life, the better I am at writing meaningful fictional stories.
  • Keeping this journal keeps me writing, at least a tiny bit, every day.
  • My journal entries allow me to look back on where I’ve been, treasuring the blessings and seeing the stepping stones. They say hindsight is 20/20, but there’s not much to look at if you forget everything except the big milestones of your life.
  • My sentence-a-day journal keeps me grateful, and reminds me that the hard days eventually give way to brighter ones.

In January 2018, I also started another habit in tandem with my daily journal: I began keeping a photo diary. Usually, I just take the pictures with my phone and then transfer them to my computer, where I label each photo with the date and keep them in a digital album.

Unlike my sentence journal, I may not take a photo every day. But I probably take at least a couple photos a week. Sometimes, these are pictures of big events like a party or a convention. Other times, they’re simple selfies of me at a favorite place, such as a library, park, or craft store. And still other times, they’re “silly” pictures that nevertheless mean something to me: A colorful fall leaf. A smiley face drawn on foggy glass. The cover of a new book I’m reading. A half-finished craft I’m enjoying. The goal is to capture something meaningful from your day in visual form, whether it’s a “big” thing or not.

My hope is to continue these habits every year and, at the end of each year, make a scrapbook with my diary entries and my photos. That way, I’ll always be able to look back through the story of my life.

What habits have you adopted to give you regular writing practice and/or to help you treasure the story of your life? Have you ever kept a sentence-a-day journal or a photo diary?

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