THIS MORNING, I was thinking about the benefits of daily journaling. I am in the practice of writing in the mornings, shortly after awakening. But sometimes, if I haven’t had a chance, or if it has been a particularly eventful day, I write in the evenings. As I thought about it, I wondered if either practice is better than the other.
Each time of day has its advantages and disadvantages. When I write in the morning, I am able to recall dreams, thoughts I had in the night, and to purge thoughts that have been bothering or worrying me. Writing early in the day jump-starts my creativity and activates my mind, like physical exercise, which gets the blood and lymph moving in the body. On the other hand, when I’m groggy, perhaps because I’ve not had enough sleep, I tend to write about pedestrian stuff, like how groggy I feel. Also, I write about feelings and events of the day before. Wouldn’t it be better to write about them in the evening, while the day’s experiences are still fresh?
Writing in the evening gives me the opportunity to debrief my day, to write about all the things that happened and how I feel about them. If I’ve had a stressful day, it allows me to de-stress. Perhaps I even sleep better as a result. On the other hand, thinking and writing about something that causes anxiety can sometimes intensify my worry. Or it can stir up related topics and feelings. Also, already a night owl, I tend to stay up late when I’m writing at night; the same creativity that ignites in the morning fires up in the evening, with the result that I stay up much later than I should. Another factor to consider is that I usually spend time with my family and Significant Other (SO) in the evening. If I disappear into my office to write before going to bed, I may lose that intimate connection, or my SO may feel spurned for my writing practice.
These are some of the pros and cons of each time of day. The best choice may be to journal ten minutes in the morning and ten at night. Ultimately, the time of day one journals is a personal choice, based on factors ranging from work schedule to individual internal clock. The main thing is to find a time of day that works and stick with it, so that journaling becomes as much a part of life as eating breakfast (or dinner). Journaling offers its most precious gifts when its done daily.