Today I answer 3 frequently asked questions about journaling.
I’m worried about someone reading my journals after I die. My family will think I’m weird if they read what I write. What can I do?
You are not alone. Many people ask that same thing. Here are a few options you might try.
- Include your journals in your last will and testament as soon as possible. This week or today. Your executor will distribute or destroy your journals as you will. Tell your executor where you keep your original will and where you keep your journals.
- Put a disclaimer in or on all of your journals or on the container or shelf that houses your treasure. The disclaimer can say that these words are written by an imperfect person. Something like, “Read these journals at your own risk.”
- Put your journals in a time capsule that is not to be opened until 50 years after your death. In that way, most of the people that you’re worried will read your journals might not be around to read them.
- You may cut out the parts that you think are the most weird or incendiary. Of course, you never know what anyone will find offensive.
- If you do not plan to re-read your journals, you might consider destroying them yourself now. Of course, that is a personal decision that I cannot make for you, but it’s certainly an option. Be aware that you might end up longing for the content that was lost.
- You can always donate your journals to The Great Dairy Project – a diary preservation society. They understand discretion and wait until your diary is no longer contemporary in order to bring its value to the public.
- You can also find a way not to let it worry you. Visit a counselor or therapist who might be able to help you alleviate this anxiety.
Many people suggest using a leather journal. I’ve bought a leather journal, but l do not feel worthy to use it. Now I feel guilty for wasting money. Can you help me force myself to just start anyway?
A journal of any kind is a tool that you use to suit your purpose. It is there to serve you.
Clearly, the leather journal is not serving your purpose – that is, to help you write. It is now clutter in your house. Get rid of it, return it, resell it, give it away.
Then, use a journal with which you do feel comfortable. If you need to do so, use whatever you usually write on – graph paper, notebook paper, printer paper, stationary- until you develop the habit of writing. I have seen journals on stenographer pads. These are all much less expensive than a leather journal. The point is to start writing. Your tools should not inhibit you.
Perhaps your first entry can be about why you feel unworthy of a more expensive writing supply.
My father read my journal when I was 17. I felt betrayed. I have never written in one since. I am now 37 and I would like to reclaim the journal-writing habit. What would you suggest?
When you read a question like this your heart goes out to the person. This is, unfortunately, a common problem in many households. Your trust and privacy have been violated; you are associating that with journaling. It makes sense that you would hesitate starting the habit of writing again.
To develop a habit of writing, I would suggest the CUE, ROUTINE, REWARD method. You will spend less time hesitating and debating whether to write and you’ll spend more time actually writing.
Establish a CUE, a signal, such as an alarm on your phone, that reminds you to write. Then engage in the ROUTINE, write in the journal. If you need to, just write the date and only one sentence, such as “It was been 20 years since I’ve written in a journal.” Close the journal, put it away.
Then REWARD yourself. It can be an intrinsic reward, such as savoring the accomplishment. It can be an extrinsic reward, such as finally getting around to reading some books on your shelf. Whatever you enjoy.
Eventually, merely engaging with the cue or signal induces you to crave the routine and the reward. Writing will become associated with pleasure. It will become a habit.
All the best,
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