Samara O'Shea

On Journal Writing


I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me!
—Anne Frank, April 5, 1944

FOR A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD, Anne Frank was notably insightful and mature. For a hostage, she was remarkably hopeful. I’m so glad that she wrote it all down—the curiosities, the fears, and the inundating declaration, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” She did exactly what she set out to do—as expressed perfectly in the above quote. She’s influenced the lives of many people she’s never met, and she’s still alive long after her tragic death. I’m sure her diary was the ultimate escape. She used it to travel far away from her immediate circumstance and to explore the uncharted territory of her burgeoning mind.

Not all of us will have our dairies or journals as I call them (in my world there is no difference) published in several languages as Anne Frank did, but that doesn’t make them any less significant. I believe the more important part of her passage is the second half, “which I can use to develop myself and express all that’s in me.” That should be our takeaway—the desire to develop and express ourselves.

Often times when I tell people about my second book—Note to Self:On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits—they say, “I tried to keep a journal once and it didn’t really work.” I tried several times, too, before it worked. The way I made it work was I stopped getting mad at myself if I didn’t write every single day, and I stopped expecting myself to write down the exact details of the day. Basically, I broke the journal-writing rules, and, as a result, I was able to keep a journal. Many journals. Now, sometimes six months will go by and I don’t write at all, while other times I write each day. Some days I write an epic poem, and other days I only write two sentences. I am the policy maker for my journal, and the policy is, “Write what feels right.” Keep this in mind if you’d consider trying a journal again. It’s worth it! We need to check in with ourselves and seeing our thoughts come alive on paper is a meaningful and profound way to do it. Anne Frank and I strongly advise you to continually develop yourself and dare to bring forth all that is inside.