Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What Do You Do With Your Journals?

We all journal for different reasons. But what do you do with them after you have written them? Do you keep all your journals? Have you ever destroyed any?

Do you know - when you start keeping them - what you will do with them afterwards? Do you ever read your journals? Do you analyse them? Do you make notes in them or modify them?

I hope many of you will share your methods / madness / experiences...as I would love to start a discussion about what we do with our journals.


  1. I keep mine. I have to hide them though or my 5 year old will think they are books for her. I even have to hide my current one. She loves journaling too. She found my last hiding spot and thought she had struck gold. Took me a week to find a new spot for them all. :)

  2. I used to keep all of mine....but when I left my 2nd ex-husband, I left them behind and he read them. My journals were very often my venting tool when he had upset me--ALL the times he had upset me. So it looked pretty...brutal. When I finally got them back in a cardboard box, I destroyed them....shredded them, page-by-page. It felt good to shred those old disappointments and hurts and start over. I still journal, but the pages are much happier now. The only one I kept from back then was my prayer journal. :)

  3. This is such a great question for me because I have been asking myself the same thing since my mom passed. My sis read something hurtful in moms journal and I am considering ripping out some pages of my collection.

    I do save mine and they are so useful for my writing now. I have the memories as if they happened yesterday! But they do need some "modifying".

    I do read them and enjoy them very much! I go looking for a certain event and get all distracted as I sit and read them! My sons each have one dedicated just to them and their birth, childhood etc. Of course those will be left intact. My 28 yr old recently read his and loved that it was not all good days but I was honest about my parenting struggles too.

  4. I try and keep them. I usually have trouble finishing them. Some of them are more filled than others. If i don't fill very much and nothing really happened in that time i will throw it out, but its so interesting to look back. Its usually very funny

  5. I keep all my journals and I like to read the old ones from time to time, because it brings back memories. I still own my first journal, which I got when I was in elementary school and I loved writing even then. When I read it today, looking at the spelling mistakes I did as a child brings a smile to my face. :)

  6. I usually throw them away. I use my journals for everything from recording what happened like a diary to venting anger. I am afraid if they were read by someone else that some things might be taken out of context.

  7. I have journaled consistently, every day, since 1995. I have them all on my bookshelf in my home office. They are a great treasure to me and to my family. I often return to them to find a poem I wrote or to read my words about a certain event. They also contain a list by year of the books I have read during that year. Destroying them would be like loosing a part of my body or better yet my soul. I also keep work journals and these go back almost 20 years but they have a completely different feel to them.

  8. I have journaled for over 20 years. I have filled over 50 journals and have about 25 waiting for me. I never start a new journal until I've finished the current one. I would never throw out a journal or tear any pages out because I've always written as if somebody could actually pick it up and read it some day, so I've resorted to writing in code a time or two. All my journals sit in an antique looking corner bookshelf in my bedroom. All my kids have a journal, actually more than one, so I've definitely passed on that trait to my kids. They'll get my journals someday. I'm not afraid of them reading about my imperfections and mistakes because I know they'll never doubt how much they were loved by me and hopefully they'll be able to see a heart after God amidst my shortcomings.

  9. Dolly,
    This is a fabulous journaling topic! I have over 50 journals filled, and it is rare when I actually look back now and read over them. I hope to use them for memoir at one point. I went through my journals about 7 years ago and indexed them, showing major events and other topics. But I have just as many I haven't indexed yet since I fill them up so quickly!

    I have chosen your post, What Do You Do with Your Journals?, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 6/21/11 for all things journaling on Twitter. I will post a link on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my blog Refresh with Dawn Herring, as well as my new Refresh Journal you can sign up for by email. http://www.refreshwithdawnherring.blogspot.com/

    My @JournalChat account is for all things journaling on Twitter. :) #JournalChat Live is Thursdays at 4 pm CST (2 PST) for all things journaling.

    Thanks again for bringing up such a worthwhile journaling topic.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition

    1. Dawn, I'm inspired by your desire to create a memoir from your journals. My company, The Cheerful Word, specializes in coaching people through the completion of a memoir, some from journal entries, some from notebooks and assorted recordings, etc. If you are still looking for some guidance and accountability to write your memoir to connect you to your family as a legacy book of love and inspiration, just holler. I'd love to help!
      Sam Uhl

  10. I have kept most of my journals (as well as my morning pages) since 1984, and have about 160 handwritten books, and four or five binders of typed/computer printout pages. Since I've moved, most of them are on one bookcase in my room; I'm thinking about buying a larger bookcase so that they can all be together.

    I do go back to reread them, sometimes for timebinding, sometimes to compare my current memory of events with what I wrote down, and sometimes for idle curiosity. The worst part is occasionally rereading and feeling as if I'm watching a horror movie: I want to shout at my twelve-years-younger self, "NO! Don't kiss that man! Don't make friends with her! Don't take that job!" because I know what will happen later.

  11. So far I only have one finished journal (started late), but I do plan to keep them. I will definitely go back to them later, may well make notations, but i doubt I would modify them except to add notes (and clearly mark them as added comments with date added or something like that).

  12. Hi Dolly!

    First of all I want to congratulate you for your blog, it's fantastic! I've followed it for long time ago but I never sent a message because I'm spanish and my english is not so very good. I can understand almost everything you write, and I hope you can understand my english.

    I also keep mine. I started journaling when I was 7 (now I'm 25) and I have lots of journals full of embarrassing things. I usually read them once a year and I should confess that, almost everytime I do, I want to destroy all those evidences of my human stupidity, but I never done (or I think I never done, because I can't find one of my teenager journals and I'm afraid I destroyed it long time ago).

    When I was a teenager I modified my childhood journals a few times, but I stopped doing that because I can't change the past neither the things I did/said: I was what I was and I wrote what I wrote, whatever I like it or not, and if I am now the person I am is all because my past experiences, isn't it? Journals are my precious, the story of my life and I want to keep all them with me for the rest of my days!

    Now the question is: what will happen when I die?

    (thanks for reading and sorry for my very bad english)

  13. I had a diary or two when I was a teenager; I'm pretty sure they've been destroyed. The last one I found was alternately boring and embarrassing so I dismembered it and recycled the paper. I've only been journaling seriously since I started doing Morning Pages in the 90's. I've kept them all but I have no interest in going back to reread them, at least not yet. I'll let my children decide what to do with them when I'm gone. This year I've finally started keeping a journal/diary that I feel might actually be interesting in the future. Wish I'd had the presence of mind to do this sort of thing decades ago!

  14. Thanks everyone, for your amazing answers :-) So happy to have this participation.

    It's absolutely fascinating to me what other people feel for their journals, and whether it is similar to what I feel for my own (a lot of time it is).

  15. I've been journaling for 29 years and I've kept every single one of my journals and diaries. I do go back and read them every once in a while. Sometimes it's just for laughs, sometimes it's to read everything about a certain topic that keeps showing up in my life over and over. I have learned a lot about myself through my journaling, and even more so reviewing my journals later on.

  16. I love your blog! I'm also a notebook addicted and I have over 100 notebooks. My problem is, I can't seem to finish them. I write a lot and I love to read them a few years later so I can analyze my progress as a writer and as a human being. Most of my journals were carried in my bag, so every time I wanted to write some I ideas down, I had them with me. I was wondering, is it just me with the problem of not finishing my notebooks?

  17. Oh what amazing thoughts from everyone here1 and such inspiration too. I keep collage journals now - and have for about 10 years. Major events, holidays, overseas travel, cruise holidays, new house, new garden - they are full of brochure photos, autumn leaves, srviette pieces, transport tickets - and yes I go back to them for the name of a place or a date I did something. Everything is positive and not too emotional or personal - I save that for poems.

  18. Just started number 39 - - they're all in a line - - I use them all the time - remembering the names of restaurants gets harder these days- but voila! there it is my life in a little black book.|

    re Francesca and not finishing notebooks
    I'm the complete opposite- I wanted to return to using the pocket size Moleskine - - boy, was it difficult to leave some blank pages in No.38

  19. Tonya,

    29 years worth of journals? That's amazing!! I plan to get there too.


    I always finish one journal before starting the next one - for a few things, I have separate journals, but for personal journal, never start the next one, without reaching the last page of the previous one.

    Sue M,

    If you would like to participate in my Meet the Journal Keeper series, I would love to see and share some of your work.


    39 journals :-) I am on my 22nd personal journal at the moment, but I figure with Travel journals, and writing journals and few others, it's probably 10 more.

  20. This is a great subject which I blogged about at http://jenniesisler.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/what-to-do-with-your-journal-collection/

    I have about 18 I've kept in the last 11 years and I have a few rules that I've followed, just to keep things fair for those who read them in the future. My biggest rule is that I don't write bad things about my family. I might write about bad things that happen TO my family, but I leave the bad stuff that happens between us out of my journals. I want them to be read after I'm gone, and I don't want bad memories to be dregged up. Plus, I go back and reread mine years later so I'd rather not read the bad stuff either. Anyone outside of family is fair game though.

  21. Dolly, Hello. I have just joined your site, mainly because I just bought my first Journal. And Googled for sites related to just that and I found Yours !
    At the age of 59 now,I don't know what I am going to write about,( my golden years of 60 & beyond?) perhaps ? But anyway,I'm going to try....

  22. Linda,

    That's fabulous! It's never too late to start journaling. I hope you enjoy the journey, and if I could assist you in any way, drop me an email.

  23. I came across your blog because I'm trying to decide what to do with all my journals. I move frequently and packing all those books and moving them is a hassle, so I'm looking for ideas. Creating a manageable life story from my journals seems an overwhelming task, but here's my idea so far:

    I want to condense all of my journals (past, present, and future) into between one and five volumes. The table of contents would actually be a time line on which singular events are listed horizontally and where enduring events are represented vertically, so red-letter days could be put in context of more mundane but equally important life experiences.
    I'd then use my daily journal entries to create narratives that eliminate unnecessary repetition. I'd like to use daily entries to create weekly narratives, weekly would become monthly, then quarterly, then annual. The important events would stand out and be recorded in details. The day-to-day routines, frustrations, and relevant direct quotes would be noted in sidebar fashion, giving flavor without overindulging in those details. It wouldn't be hard to also include handwriting samples, photographs, greeting cards, and correspondences as insets - not to mention the occasional doodle, sketch, poem, or song.

    It's an ambitious task, but I think it would increase the value of the investment I've made in my journals by enhancing their appeal to others who might benefit from my experiences.

  24. I came here after a Google search of "what do people do with their diaries." Even after reading other people's ideas, I still don't know.

    My young adulthood was a very difficult, painful time for me, during which I filled about 30 journals. It has taken me about ten years and a lot of hard work and forgetting to move past those times and experiences.

    Now that I am in a good place in my life, I am torn about what to do with all those bad memories. I reread one of them while going through the trunk where I store them. It just made me cry and broke my heart. I don't know what good reading them would do anyone who hasn't been through the terrible things I have.

    So, on the one hand, having them around may only serve as temptation to hurt myself with reminiscing. On the other hand, they may also be a macabre reminder of how far I've come and all that I've overcome. What would you do if your diaries were all dark?

    1. Keep them!!! Just don't read them anymore, there's really no need to. We can't just have a life full of only happy memories. Don't throw away those dark journals, you may regret doing it.

    2. Or one could look at them as a "passage" in life - what's done is done. Are you the same person who you wrote about in those journals? At the same time if you've any interest in writing, as in creating a memoir or crafting a story around your life, they might be useful. Of course it's nearly 3 years ago - perhaps by now you've resolved the issue. Peace be with ye


  25. Journal of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine is an open access, peer-review journal publishing papers of high quality on the latest advances in genetic, molecular and cellular studies of human physiology and diseases.
    Journal of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine

  26. clinical journals,medical journals,lifescience journals,pharma journals,chemistry journals,engineering journals,management journals,manuscript submission,submit articleA to Z Journals

  27. I either destroyed all my journals from when I was a child, or hid them in a box somewhere (since I've moved a couple times, I still have a couple boxes I haven't opened and so I don't know what's in them). I hadn't finished most of them and found them quite embarrassing. I know I can't change the past, but this way, whatever happened to those journals, at least I can't remember most of the embarrassing parts either. I started seriously journaling on New Years Day of 2011, and have been doing so ever since. I'm currently filling what I'm considering to be my 25th journal. (The one I started on New Years Day 2011, I considered to be my first.) All the ones I've used since then, I keep in what used to be my camp trunk from when I went to sleep away camp. I've greatly modified three of them. I don't really look back on them often, but I might want to start doing that.