Posts Tagged 'Old Journals'

Old Journals — Destroy or keep?

I just returned from Atlanta, where I facilitated a workshop called, “The Healing Notebook,” at the Wellness and Writing Connections Conference. The group included bright women from many walks of life, including mental health professionals, medical writers and poets. After lecture and writing exercises, we tossed around many ideas about healing notebooks, but one woman raised the most interesting question which stirred an enormous amount of interest.

“Do you believe journals should be burned?” she asked. The woman was referring to where those journals we write for cathartic reasons to help us navigate through a difficult time. After healing and recovery sometimes we simply rather not revisit or readdress the issues of that time and might not even want the volumes around.

After going back and forth on the subject, the consensus was finally, “No, all journals should be cherished.” The reason is that you never know how they might come in handy in the future and once they are destroyed they will be gone forever.

What do you think? Please share your comments with me.

Revisiting Old Journals

Sometimes when prowling through old journals I feel like a scavenger looking for dead meat. Rummaging around your old journals can be an interesting and useful exercise for writers, non-writers and ‘wannabe’ writers. It’s fun to examine our past obsessions, loves and dislikes. Often these don’t change over the years as mine have been writing about losses and fantasies—quite a spectrum!

The best time to reread old journals is when we need nourishment for writing ideas. Our old journals are gems packed with little darlings. On rainy days, for example, try highlighting sections which still spark your interest. Then, pick one and free-write for 10-20 minutes. In other words, write nonstop without making corrections and without paying attention to grammar. Don’t judge and certainly don’t edit. This practice helps bypass the inner critic and also releases tension, plus it might end up being a bigger seed which could actually blossom into a published piece, whether it’s a poem or story.


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Quote of the Week


"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me


I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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