A Journal Journey – 10 Benefits of an Academic Journal

Keeping some sort of diary or journal isn’t restricted to your personal thoughts on how a hot date was, what you think of the stupid trick played on you by your so-called mates, and how amazing that low-key gig was last night.  Just look at the range of output you get from all the blogs out there.

One powerful way to whip yourself into great study shape is to start writing an academic journal.  The process can be as quick as you like and the benefits far outweigh the time you need to spend on it.

photo by lusi

photo by lusi

An academic journal doesn’t need to follow any particular structure, but you should take it seriously.  It only requires a few bullet points each day to show how you’re solving a problem, how you intend to find your voice, or what you’re doing to shape your future.  Feel free to write in whatever way you feel comfortable with.  It may take a few days to find a style or setup you’re happy with, but once you work through that, you’ll gain access to the bigger picture and take hold of a new perspective on your working:

  1. You can learn about yourself on a more engaging level;
  2. You can learn from your mistakes;
  3. You’re more likely to pick up on the ideas that work best for you;
  4. Your focus will remain pin-sharp;
  5. What was just a nugget of an idea, merely throwaway at the time, can expand into an elaborate vision when you revisit that thought;
  6. You can plan ahead with greater ease and pick up on flaws and overlaps;
  7. It helps you with the creative and written process;
  8. It helps you analyse at a deeper level;
  9. Your journal is a document of past moments that may be valuable to a great future;
  10. You should gain greater confidence through a journal, compared with just your thoughts.

I didn’t keep a journal while at university.  But I now see the value in making the effort.  I still don’t write a regular daily journal, but who needs to sit down with a ‘Dear Diary’ nowadays anyway?  All I do is fire open a journal on the computer and get down ideas for the day, respond to what’s on my mind and allow the creative juices to flow.  Often, it helps me ignore any Internal Editor sneaking around my head too.  It means my ‘journal’ is often subject to change.  But as it’s a personal document, it makes absolutely no difference.

In time, you’ll end up enjoying the process and realise how beneficial it’s become.  And it shouldn’t take up much of your time at all.  Bonus!

photo by dinny

photo by dinny


  1. Great to see another journalling fan in the uni blogosphere! I started keeping a journal regularly in my third year as an undergrad, and reading over the entries around exam time really brings the horror of finals back. 😉

    Seriously, though, a journal is a great way to work through your thoughts on paper. If you feel like you have ideas which just aren’t “there” yet, sit down and write about them. It’s surprising what can come together.

  2. Glad it works for you too, Ali. For me it was a question of ‘third time lucky’. A couple of times in the past I did try keeping a journal, but I was trying to fit a particular structure, which didn’t work. On the most recent attempt, I let go of any preconceptions and quickly found a flow.

    So I urge people not to give up. And don’t try to make it what you’d expect of a journal. It’s a personal document that can be whatever you choose it to be.

  3. I started keeping a journal in college, and I’m still keeping one. That was ~35 years ago! I am so convinced of the merits of keeping a journal (which is private) that I created and produced LifeJournal, journal writing software that runs on your local drive. Secure, private, fun, filled with all kinds of encouraging tools. Let me know if you have any questions about journal writing of the journal software. –Ruth Folit, rfolit@lifejournal.com

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