Journaling Interview: Dawn Herring of #JournalChat

by | Blog | 16 comments

I’ve got another installation for you in the Journaling Interviews series. Today we have the pleasure of hearing from Dawn, freelance writer and blogger at Refresh with Dawn Herring.

Dawn also started the Twitter event called #JournalChat, which answers journaling questions and connects you with journaling resources.

My goal with these interviews is to introduce you to your fellow journalers, perhaps open you up to some new ways of journaling, and to illustrate that there are as many ways to keep a journal as there are journal keepers.

And now, I give you Dawn!

How did you get started journaling?

I started keeping a journal after I met Bill who became my husband. Our relationship had so many dimensions to it; I found I had to record all that was happening. I knew it was a significant, life changing event that was certainly worth divulging on and dissecting in the pages of my journal, my sounding board.

How long have you been journaling?

Twenty four years! When I first started, it was more sporadic. But now I’m consistent.

How often do you write?

I write daily, usually before bed. But if something significant comes up I want to record, I’ll write in it at others times as well. I keep three different types of journals: personal, spiritual, and dream. I record my dreams each morning, at least most of the time, and I write in my spiritual journal almost every day when I have my centering time.

Where do you write?

I usually sit in my recliner in my bedroom where I go to relax and unwind after the day’s activity. Sometimes I will bring my journal into the living room if we’re watching something on TV, since I don’t want to miss the time I need to write each evening. If I wait until afterwards, I may not have enough time for a full entry before bed.

I also have an antique desk in my bedroom I use if I write in my personal journal in the morning; that’s where I write down my dreams and spiritual insights as well.

Do you prefer morning or night?

For my personal journal, I prefer night so I can write down all the significant and not so significant stuff that happens during the day. It’s a great way to release stress, angst, and pressure from everything, which helps to promote good sleep.

But I prefer writing in my dream journal in the morning, so I’ll remember my dreams; I also prefer the a.m. hours for my spiritual writing unless I’ve had a busy morning and didn’t get to it right away.

Do you have a preferred journal or notebook?

I especially like the hard cover faux leather styles with lined pages with gold or silver gilded edges if my favorite store, Ross, has them in stock. Sometimes I’ll get a hard cover with a cool graphic that interests me.

I don’t like using spiral notebooks for my personal journal, but I do use them for my dream and spiritual journals. When I use a spiral for my spiritual journal, I like the two subject Mead Five Star brand with a strong plastic cover. I use a blue, single subject 6×9 size Compac spiral for my dream journal.

Do you use prompts or free writing or a combination?

I mostly use free writing in my personal journal. I write in my spiritual journal as I am prompted to write insight from something I just read from a devotional book or spiritual text. Sometimes I quote and then add my own two cents.

When I see good journaling prompts that I post online on Twitter with my @JournalChat account, I think about using it, but I don’t usually since I always have my day as my prompt.

Have you ever found it necessary to take a break from journaling?

No, actually, I’ve never felt I needed a break. I find it very therapeutic and would miss it if I didn’t write every day. I always have at least a page to fill. I would feel like something was missing if I didn’t write in my personal journal.

When I first started journaling, after I got married and had kids, I didn’t write in my journal every day simply because I didn’t make it as much of a priority or didn’t have time or energy as a young mom. I didn’t see it as an obligatory practice back then. Now I see its daily benefit and have been keeping a daily journal for quite some time now.

Has journaling contributed to any important changes or events in your life?

I use my journal to make decisions, to hash things out, to pinpoint trouble spots in my life. My journal writing has helped me through physical changes of address, through the changes in my kid’s lives, through starting our electrical contracting business, and has helped me work through my home schooling life of 10 years.

I worked out plot issues in my novel; I set goals for my writing life and my family life. I believe my journaling has helped me become a stronger person over the years. I’ve become more aware of what changes need to take place to make my life better.

What has surprised you most about journaling?

The most surprising aspect to journaling I have discovered is the scientific benefits it has on the body, helping to boost the immune system, which ultimately keeps the body stronger and healthier; and of course it has been great with emotional and psychological health as well.

What’s your biggest journaling challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

I don’t feel challenged by my journaling habit; it has been such a wonderful therapy for me. I suppose when writing about things that challenge me, I have to be as honest with myself as possible. And looking at things I don’t like isn’t easy but necessary.

What’s your biggest journaling roadblock or hurdle?

My biggest roadblock would simply be not making time for it in lieu of other activities. But I’m the type that would take the journal into another room, so as not to disturb my husband, and write at least a paragraph or two before bed.

Advice for journaling newbies?

I would highly suggest having a goal you want to reach. If that goal is to simply write a summary of your day, great! If you have a specific relationship or situation you need to work through, a journal is the perfect place to do it. Asking yourself questions and answering them is a great journaling technique. Simply writing a high and low of each day is a good way to assess your emotional mindset.

The thing to remember most is there is no wrong way to journal. There are so many techniques out there ready to be explored that you’re bound to find something that will work for you. If you get bored easily, switch the techniques you use to keep it fresh and interesting.

And don’t forget to have fun with it. Just be yourself. You’ll be amazed as to the benefits you’ll get, especially if you write every day.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I recommend writing with pen to paper. There’s something about the process that I believe rivals use of a computer, although if that’s what you prefer, than by all means, go for it!

You’re welcome to follow my @JournalChat account on Twitter for all things journaling, where I post tips, prompts, articles, blog posts, news items, book resource links, and other great journaling stuff to help get you going.

Thanks so much to Dawn for sharing her journaling world with us! I definitely recommend following @JournalChat if you’re on Twitter – not only is it fun, but it’s a great resource to turn you on to new journaling-related people and places.

You may also like to read Dawn’s guest post on Journaling Saves: Dream Journals: Dream Telling.

Dawn Herring is a freelance writer, avid journaler, office manager, and homeschooler. Check out her website at and her blog, blog Refresh with Dawn Herring.


  1. iHanna

    Great interview! I enjoy reading about other peoples journaling habits alot, specially where it happens and such.

  2. Kelly Light

    Great interview, I have to agree with Hanna as I enjoy reading about peoples journaling habits, I guess it is nice to know I am not alone!

  3. Eden

    I agree so much with what Dawn has said! I’ve been journaling for a little over 30 yrs. I did not know about the health benefits with the immunity and all, really makes sense. I ,too, will feel like something is missing if I don’t journal for a few days. I love how the journaling clears my head and gives me a better perspective on whatever may be bugging me. I don’t know how people can live their best lives without journaling, it’s that central to me.

    • Kristin

      Eden – if you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of journaling, Mari over at Create Write Now has some great articles on “journal therapy cures.” I also did an interview with her a few weeks ago. She’s here:

  4. Natasha

    I have actually looked into Dawn Herring’s Twitter chat! I’ve never actually looked at her website though. These interview’s are a great idea. I can’t wait to read more.

  5. Antoinette

    I wish there was a “like” button. Since there isn’t, this is just a comment to say how much I liked and appreciated this. Nothing more to add 🙂

  6. Kristin

    Thanks so much for the feedback, ladies. I’m really enjoying the interview series, too. I just love hearing from other journalers. I think mainly because journaling is such an isolating act and we usually do it all alone. JournalChat is really great if you’re on Twitter. I just have to remember to go check it out because I don’t spend too much time on Twitter lately. Hopefully I’ll see you at the next one!

  7. kimberley

    Hi, I was going to use the contact form but it doesnt seem to be working. Just wondering if you tend to write rants into your main journal, or if you have a separate space for them?

  8. Kristin

    Hi Kimberley – thanks for letting me know about the contact form. I remedied that. I broke the site this week and I’m still cleaning up the carnage. 🙁 As for ranting, I do it all in one place. Just one journal. I keep it simple with one-stop shopping.

  9. Heather

    Great interview.. I have been journaling for over 20 years ( wow that always ages me!) I think it’s what keeps me sane -ish! For some reason I was having trouble figuring out how I wanted to bring spirituality to my journaling and in this post the short bit Dawn said about her spiritual journaling really clicked for me, it was an ah ha and a duh all at once! So I am now keeping one for insights from books I am reading, questions i have for the universe , prompts from spiritual journaling books! So thanks for the inspo all involved! I am new to reading this blog , but I am really glad i have added it to the reader!

  10. Amanda

    Dawn’s comments that journaling has really been a ‘wonderful therapy’ and has helped her through life changes strike a deep chord within me.

    My journey into 5 years depression is recorded in various journals. It was the only place I felt safe, even moreso than a therapist. I could tell the whole, ugly truth of what I had done and the destruction it wrought on my life.

    Thanks to you, Kristin, for sharing Dawn’s inspiring thoughts with us all.

  11. Janet

    I enjoy reading about others’ journaling habits and processes! I often pick up ideas to refresh my own writing! Thanks for these interviews!

  12. Donna Carrick

    Excellent interview, Kristin. I always enjoy Dawn’s unique insights into the journaling process, especially how she uses journaling to formulate plot and characters. Well done!

  13. hope

    great interview!

  14. carolinaheartstrings

    Great post. I love journaling and enjoy reading about other’s perspectives.

  15. Dolly

    Great interview. Thanks for sharing Dawn