In writing, you meet yourself. It is not that blank sheet or glowing monitor you face. It is yourself. You can approach yourself cautiously, slowly. There is no time limit here. You can stare at the blankness before you until a hazy image appears. Reach out and try to grab it.
You may say "Why bother? What have I got to teach me?" Try it though, you'll be surprised.
Then you'll be on the writing adventure. Think of it as an exciting challenge. Recall those authors whose works move you. Try to figure out WHY. That is an intriguing challenge in and of itself. Are they fiction writers, poets, or journalists? This may point you to the type of writing YOU want to do. Remember, this is for yourself, so don't choose your parameters to meet other people's margins. You will get to know yourself better. There is no price that can be put on that. That you may leave your words for future generations is some hazy thing in the future. Your descendents 100 years from now may find your records of interest. I know I would have, if my relatives had thought to keep a journal. I'd have known what motivated them all to immigrate to America. I wouldn't be trying to guess from studying the history of their countries of origin.
But they didn't. You may think "I have no children and no brothers or sisters that had children. The family line dies with me." Think ahead to your OWN distant future. When you are old, you will pull out your old writings, and think "Oh, I'm so glad I kept these. I would have never remembered in such detail that perfect day when I was twenty-eight."
"These poems I jotted down decades ago are really cute! Oh, I recall what inspired THIS one. XXXX was such a special heartthrob."
A journal kept can be a record of growth. William Zinsser in Writing to Learn says "It's by writing about a subject we're trying to learn that we reason our way to what it means."
Your imagination can tell tell you even more such uses. So WRITE! Grab on to that life of your and crystallize it in print. It is an adventure waiting for you!
© 1998, Joan Lansberry