Do you find it difficult to journal? If you’re like me, you feel like you’re supposed to. To journal, I mean, not find it difficult… It seems that prophets and apostles have counseled us to keep a journal. Both in the days of old and in modern times. Today I’m going to introduce you to a method of journaling that has worked for me in the past. It’s actually a really neat concept, largely because of how much time it saves you in your journaling. I can take absolutely no credit for this journaling method. I figured I’d get that out there right off the bat. A wonderful sister in my old ward introduced me to it. She called the little book her ‘Three Word Journal’.
Journaling has always been a big challenge for me. For some reason, I have almost no motivation at the end of the day to write about my day. When I have kept a journal, it takes me ages to write what I have to say. Since I use that time immediately before bed for my greedy personal fiction reading, I really struggle to give that up in favor of journaling. It’s one of my weaknesses. In case you didn’t know, I’ve got plenty of those.
What is Three Word Journaling
As the name may have clued you in on, a Three Word Journal is a journal that you write in three words at a time. Shocking, right? At first glance, it doesn’t seem like that would be useful. I’m kind of a prolific writer (and talker) so when I set pencil to paper, I’m usually going to be there for a while. I never learned any kind of shorthand or abbreviation system, and while I’m a fast typist, I’m a slow writer. Regardless of how fast a writer you are, though, if you have as much to say as I do, it seems like three words would be woefully inadequate. But the purpose of a Three Word Journal is subtly different from the more longhand version.
The purpose of a Three Word Journal is to jog your memory. Most journals serve this function to some extent. After all, by writing something down, we increase our retention significantly. Also, later on in life, we may want to settle in and read our old journals. I suspect that many of the apostles and prophets do just that. But traditional journals are also the kind of thing that gets handed down to the next generation when you pass on. It’s your story, in journal form. To some extent, you are writing so that people can understand it.
But with a Three Word Journal, you’re writing JUST as a memory prompt. You’re not trying to tell the story, just trying to remind yourself of the story so that you can tell it yourself.
How To Three Word Journal
The ‘How To’ process of a Three Word Journal is best given, in my opinion, by an example. Here’s a Three Word Journal entry of mine: Grouchy, Needles, Priesthood.
Not exactly very telling for you, is it? However, to me, it jogs my memory of a time that Grouchy was having a really hard time accepting a needle (he doesn’t like doctors, nurses, or more particularly the needles they carry). He was really upset and it was a tense situation. The nurse was there in the room trying to jab him. He was trying to stop being jabbed. Lala and I were trying to get him to calm down and settle down. Grouchy is a lot bigger than us. It was rough.
Without asking anyone, or telling anyone, I attempted to silently invoke the power of the priesthood to make him calm down… That was a horrible mistake. Using the priesthood like a bludgeon, without the permission of the recipient, was not a righteous move. I felt a physical rebuke from the Lord for my attempt, and Grouchy’s troubles increased rather than decreased because of my unrighteous attempt.
Grouchy, Needles, Priesthood.
Boil the Story Down to Three Words
That’s what three word journaling is all about. You boil down the essence of a story you would like to remember, to three words that you know will bring that story back to your mind. Obviously, not every day is going to have a story you will want to remember, which is why, unfortunately, a Three Word Journal doesn’t make a great day-to-day record. It is, however, a great way to settle into journaling, and take just a few minutes (sometimes seconds!) to think about and write down three words of your favorite stories. You never know when you might need to be able to remind yourself of those stories. For a church talk, or for your personal recollection, for instance.