Your journaling can come from the heart, whatever purpose it serves - whether memory keeping or recording your emotions. Here's how.

Capture the Heart With Your Journaling

Here we are, ending up February, our month of love. Hard to believe two months of the new year have already passed by. So far, we’ve made – and hopefully kept – some scrappy resolutions, leveled up our lives, miraclized our mornings (totally a word – I know ’cause I just made it up!), envisioned our goals, loved on our family, friends, and coworkers, and taken a brief but painful hiatus for filing tax returns. Productive, we have been!

I’d like to keep the momentum going with our last “heartfelt” topic for February¬†– capturing the heart of the story through journaling.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

If you’re like me, your scrapbook pages tend to suffer from the “Just the Facts” syndrome. You know what I mean – the whole “Who, What When, Where, Why, How” template. Example:

The Harris family went on vacation the summer of 2015 in Tennessee. We took a road trip and had a wonderful time enjoying the mountains we love so much.

Okay, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this bit of journaling, but when I go back to read it in ten years, I won’t have a sense of how it felt to be on vacation with my family. What we saw, ate, touched, smelled. Someday, I’ll want to relive those moments, and even though a picture paints a thousand words, I can add to them quite well with just a few well-chosen sentences or an entire beginning-middle-end story.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our journaling could capture those specific moments in time that we want to hold onto forever? The truth is, it can! You don’t have to be a professional storyteller to use some of their tried and true techniques for communicating the heart of the story. Here are a few:

  • Close your eyes and play the memory like a movie in your mind. Then write down your impressions – what stands out? How did the sunshine feel on your face? Was it a cold winter day? Could you smell the smoke of a wood fire on the air? What were you feeling at the moment? Were you anticipating flying down the hill on your skis for the first time of the season?
  • Choose a strong opening. Borrow from books you love (I like to study children’s books for openings – they tend to be pared down and efficient).
    • Strong action – “My sunglasses sank to the bottom of the stingray pool. I looked at the attendant with despair.”
    • Important dialogue – “I’m starving! We need to grab some breakfast!” said Ethan. “I know just the place. My ‘sources’ say there’s a funnel cake stand right around the corner!” I replied.
    • Setting – “It was a cold November morning. The room was dimly lit, and I quietly pulled my chair alongside Mama’s hospital bed. Everyone else was sleeping, and I wanted to protect our time together.”
  • Move along the middle. Be sure you keep the action going. While you want to include enough details to jog your memory years from now, you don’t want to get too bogged down in them (Ever listen to a four-year-old relate a story? Avoid that)
  • End on a reflective note. Tie your story up so that the last sentence reminds you how the story began. “We had explored the entire Ripley’s Aquarium, and taken hundreds of photos, but somehow, my embarrassing moment would be the one we would remember always. Thankfully, it was not photographed.”

Not Every Story Has a Happy Ending

Sometimes your journaling is not for memory keeping purposes. Sometimes it is for processing feelings, reflecting on the past, and looking ahead to brighter days. That’s when a bullet journal can come in handy. You can create any kind of layout you want to record your thoughts and feelings, and no one ever has to see them. These can be some of the most heartfelt stories.

bullet journaling

My words, captured at this moment in my life.

journaling card in a bullet journal

Information about why the song is meaningful to me.

Journaling in a bullet journal with tip-ins

The whole spread.

Put Your Heart Into It

However you choose to journal – in a scrapbook to preserve memories or in a bullet journal to record your thoughts, feelings, and seasons in life, there are many ways to make it meaningful. I’d love to see how you put your heart into your journaling. Hop on over to the MKP Facebook group, and let’s chat!

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