Do you hesitate to commit to keeping a journal because you are afraid it will take up too much time? Then begin a journal that simply contains a title for each day. Whether you think of each day as a chapter in your life or a collection of short stories, each day begs a title.
Consider my last week:
Monday, Nov. 28 2022: Chest Pain Check Out
Tuesday, Nov. 29 2022: More Shifts at Work
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022: The National Shortage Hits Home
Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022: Tales From a Korean Funeral
Friday, Dec. 2, 2022: Every Roast Has a Name
Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022: Will the Concerts Ever End?
Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022: Banquet at the Biltmore: Will I Be Stabbed Too?
Keep it short.
Titles typically contain a phrase or even a single word, but not more than a sentence. If you absolutely feel the need to say more, then a subtitle is your spare room. Follow your short title with a colon, and then write the additional details you feel are necessary.
Focus on the Most Significant
A title does not tell the whole story. It provides what is most important/the topic. But you may find yourself struggling to not write more, a compulsion comparable to the feeling you have after eating one potato chip, one French fry, or forkful of your favorite dish.
A good title typically reveals the writer’s attitude toward their subject. The South African website Writers Write provides a useful list of 155 tone words and distinguishes between the terms tone and voice.
At the end of each month, look back through your entries to see what they make you recall.
Historical Note: Titles and title pages have not always existed. Many point to Ratdolt, Löslein, and Maler’s 1476 quarto edition of the astronomer Regiomontanus’s Kalendarium as the first book with a title page. Manuscripts were often labeled with their opening words or phrase, called an incipit.
I am enjoying this series of journaling ideas. This is much like, perhaps is, a class or workshop. Now I just need to take each idea for a test drive 🚗
Thank you for the feedback! The motivation for this series is my upcoming column on journaling for the Southern California News Group. I usually write a column twice a year. I do work as a high school English teacher, so I am not surprised that my writing voice feels like that of a teacher or workshop leader. Let me know how your journaling goes.