All my journals...

This is only a smattering of all the journals I have written. When I was traveling overseas and teaching in Kenya for three years, I kept many journals. Before that, in college, I sketched in my journals when I was bored, on trains and buses, when waiting in airports. 

It started in high school - I went to a boarding school for my last two years. A friend there, who'd lived in England and was an excellent writer, enlightened me, She said, "You don't have to write in a diary everyday, or only write about what happened that day etc. You can just write whatever you want!" Wow, I thought, and took a gold rimmed journal that I'd gotten as a present for my Bat Mitzvah and just started writing and drawing whatever and whenever.

I wrote dreams and thoughts, wishes and hopes. All my feelings went into those books. And I didn't have to say what happened that day, if I didn't want to. I had total permission to be myself inside those pages. 

I also used them to write "just for fun." 
Fun writing exercises involved just describing a scene I was witnessing somewhere -- for example, on the New York subway, Or I would draw the face of  a person on the subway. The writing I did sometimes became stories later. Occasionally a character would pop in my head and I would write a character sketch.

For a long time, I felt like the journals were not my most brave expression of myself. That they were a way to hide, to not get published, to evade the public eye, to be private. Perhaps I feared I would always stay a "closeted" writer,  But it was not meant to be. 

The journals were warm ups and continue to be. I still keep a joural nearby -- to write down thoughts, feeling, memories and dreams. 

I urge everyone who is writing and wants to write to keep a journal and share your journal stories here? How old were you when you began writing? Was it in the form of a diary or journal? What are the dangers of journaling --are there any?