Preserving Journals for the Future

June 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby with 0 and 0
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As a writer, I love to write in any form including journals, blogs, and books. Something about putting words on a page is so satisfying. But I’ve asked myself recently if I’m writing the right things in my journals. Do I capture words that will be preserved for the future? Should I start a journal for the future that’s more about the day to day then about special days or my feelings?

Notebook and stack of books with title Journaling for the future by Denise M. Colby with a teal wood slated background

Hear me out. There’s a reason why I’m thinking about this in a different way. It’s not really about my own personal life and wanting to document it. It’s more about making sure how we live today is being captured for those who need this data in the future.

Journals are a Great Research Tool

As a historical writer, journals are invaluable to capturing the essence of the era we are writing. Long ago journals include terminology, names, and phrases of the time. There are recipes from our ancestors because they wrote them down. Which now are preserved and shared from person to person.

Also, a contemporary writer might have a character that is a teacher or plumber or Starbucks barista. They may need to learn about these positions. These journals could include lingo, interactions, schedules, a specific point of view, and more. They might gather these from blogs, more than journals, but the idea of finding content that helps explain the day to day in these lives is what I’m talking about.

I’ve even created a journal for my character so I could find her voice and figure out her feelings and perspective. I talk about this in my blog post on my website titled Incorporating a Character Journal In My Story. I now include a journal entry to the beginning of each chapter in my book.

1869 Diary entry by Olivia Carmichael in A Man Was Not The Plan by Denise M. Colby
A fictitious journal entry by my character.
Olivia Carmichael had no idea how much she would eat her words.

How Will The Future Read Journals?

Think of terms and phrases used in the past versus now. Terms such as binge mean something different now than 50 years ago. What would be other words or terms that might be obsolete in the future? What are terms that we no longer use today but represent a bygone era?

I sometimes feel silly writing down some of these more basic topics. But then I think about someone possibly reading it 100 years from now and realize that how we go about our day may be completely different in another century.

In today’s definition, journals could be blogs, notes in our phone, or actual books we handwrite in. And it will be interesting to see how people who keep and access these in the future. Personally I love handwriting. But it gets harder and harder to read someone’s writing either from faded ink or pencil or just reading handwriting itself as an art form is going away. I wrote a blog post about that a while ago titled Give A Gift That Lasts a Lifetime: A Handwritten Note. In some cases writing is more personal because of a person’s handwriting. I love coming across something my mom or dad wrote. It evokes an emotion in me that’s difficult to describe.

Will Journals Be Around in 100 Years?

To have a journal last 100 years, first people have to create them. Then they have to save them. Not by just the writer, but by someone who obtains them after the writer has passed. How many of us toss older books out? Or toss our own books out because we don’t think anyone will care. They may not care at 25-35 years, but something older? This is the future of a journal. The old adage – one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. A family member might think there’s nothing of importance in the journal, but a writer looking for specific details? It could be pure gold inside.

But what about blogs? To stay active, the account has to stay active. Where will all this content go in the future? How will these blog posts be preserved? I know. I’m causing anxiety where it’s not necessary. But being a history lover, I tend to think about these things often. Am I the only one?

Journals Preserved by Libraries

In rare cases, a library owns journals that are used by scholars who use them as reference materials. People of the past journaled for the future. My great great grandfather was one of them. He wrote detailed journals. A mountain man who faught in a war with Lincoln, was a trapper with Jedidiah Smith, and shared a campfire with the Donner party before they chose to ignore his warnings and take the short Sierra pass that ended in doom. We know all of this because of his journals. I have two printed versions of his journals in my possession, but I’ve also seen the real journals in person. These journals are owned by the Huntington Libary in Pasadena. And it’s been said they know what they know about that era, because of the details he captured.

James Clyman Journal of a Mountain Man Book Denise M. Colby 6th Generation to James Clyman
Books that have been written from the Journals of James Clyman, my great-great grandfather.
He created journals used in his future, which is our present. What will our journals be used for?

Questions for the writer in all of us

I wanted to ask questions because I’m curious. And I think a dialogue would be advantageous for all of us. Do you read journals for your stories? Where do you go for your inspiration? Do you journal? If you do, do you write about your feelings? Describe the weather? Mention a list of daily activities? What type of content do you put in your journal? 

Do you write daily? Are your journals organized by date or by topic? Ideas of specialized journals would be one for work related documentation and one for personal. Or a journal about movies, books, or other entertainment and another book for trips.

And last but not least, how do you think the world will use these journals in the future?

Curious minds want to know.

Author Bio
Author Bio
Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors. If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/
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Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors. If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/

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