I got my first blank journal from my aunt when I was seven years old. My first entry is one page and documents a trip to a Penn State Football game and how my family tailgated and ate good food.
I remember feeling embarrassed that he read my unedited thoughts out loud to an unintended audience. And yet I stood in the doorway for a minute or two to hear the sound of my words coming from another’s voice.
I have continued to keep journals, but have not, apparently, gotten any better at hiding them. When I was a teenager, my mom seemed to know a little bit more about what I did and where I went and with whom than she should have. I remember scouring my old entries, looking for the evidence, trying to read the entries from her point of view.
One day in my late twenties, I came home from work, sat down at my desk, and bumped my knees on an open desk drawer, one I knew I had not left open, the one which housed my journal. When my boyfriend--who is now an ex--came over, I asked him how long he had been reading my journals. He shrugged. And here I thought he was just really intuitive about my thoughts and feelings.
So now I write my journal entries in digital documents that cannot be accessed without a password or really refined hacking skills. I need a space to myself. I use my journals as a form of meditation; as a place to brainstorm; a ranting room; a sanctuary. It makes me wonder, though, who IS my intended audience? I think I imagine and older--hopefully wiser--version of myself reading them someday. But with what purpose?
Writing digital journal entries in password-protected documents has its obvious perks—security, I can write more because I type faster than I hand write, I can add digital content like photos, web site links, videos—but it lacks something, too, and I’m not sure what it is. I keep contemplating returning to a paper journal. Perhaps I could buy a safe to keep it in.
I am curious what your experiences are with keeping journals. Have you had your journal privacy violated? If so, what, if anything, did you do about it? Or do you willingly share your journals with others? Who is your intended audience? Is there any reason to keep your journals when you finish writing them? What do you plan to do with them?
Some great resources I frequently visit for journaling inspiration:
I am also a fan of art journaling, which helps my creative writing. I’ll discuss in a later post, so stay tuned!
Written by Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor