Lock Up Your Private Writing

A few years back Writers Digest Press was publishing a magazine called, Personal Journaling. It only lasted 14 issues, but fortunately WritersDigest.com has preserved some of the content on their website. Many of the articles dealt with practical journaling problems, such as how to keep journal entries private.

For many, it is a real hindrance to commit to journaling for fear that the journal will be discovered by a spouse, child, friend, or someone else who doesn’t have permission to read it, and that problems could come about through that discovery. This is usually a problem for those who keep introspective journals/diaries and think through a lot of difficult issues in their writings. It’s hard to feel you can write what you would really like to write if (fill-in-the-blank) might find the journal and read your entries.

Keeping a password-protected journal on a computer is one answer. But for many, writing these personal thoughts on a computer is just not the same. I use the computer for many things, but I simply cannot keep a journal on one. I like to make statements when I am journaling that can only be made with angrily scribbled entries with lots of capitalization and underlining; complete, of course, with several oversized exclamation points. It’s hard, (for me anyway), to pour out that kind of raw emotion on a computer. With that said, many people do it all the time and find they have no problems keeping their journals in the digital world. There are many good journaling software programs and I see their benefits of privacy, search capabilities, etc. But they’re not for me.

Personal Journaling magazine dealt with this topic in the June 21, 2001 issue of PJ in an article by Diane Weiner called, “Lock Up Your Private Writing.” It’s a fairly short article concerning journaling and privacy, and I would encourage you to read it if this has been a concern to you. For example, here’s Ms. Weiner on why you might need to hide your writing:

If someone has read your diary, or even rifled through your desk drawer looking for it, you can relate to my feelings of anger and betrayal. In an ideal world, we would all respect each other’s privacy and wouldn’t dare to read another’s diary, even if it were lying open on a table. However, human nature is curious, and so our private writings are vulnerable. This doesn’t mean we should abandon them, though. It just means we must become more determined — and creative — in our resolve to protect our diaries from prying eyes.

There are some good ideas in the PJ article. I hope that those who might be putting off journaling because of privacy concerns will read it, and hopefully reach a comfort level to where they can begin personal writing.

Writer’s Digest, by the way, heard from a lot of people when they canceled Personal Journaling and have replaced it with a magazine called, Personal Writing that covers journals, essays, memoirs and blogs. It is on a rather erratic schedule but seems to be coming out 3 or 4 times a year. Update July 2010: Now, “Personal Writing” is no longer being published.

If you have some ideas for notebook privacy – feel free to leave a comment. I’m sure there’s some creative ways to do this that most of us haven’t heard about. Leave your tips!

Good luck journaling with a secure feeling that your personal writing is yours alone.

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