Posted by: ritagone | February 7, 2018

To Journal OR Not to Journal


I’ve been thinking and reading about journaling lately; it seems like everywhere I turn, someone is either writing about it or doing it.  I don’t have a problem with that.  Everyone should feel free to write down his or her private thoughts about what’s going on around them so that in years to come, they will have a record of what their history was.

My only objection is when they start to feel that what they’re saying is of such importance that the rest of the world can’t live without those words.  It’s then that I wish that people who journal would realize that not everyone’s words are worth publishing to the world.  Privately they are significant, important, tender and valuable.  Publicly, not always.

I’m reminded of something I read recently in my morning devotional book by Ken Gires, “The Reflective Life.”  He says, “We see a lot of things we haven’t seen in people when we’re given a peek into their journal.  There we see them with their make-up off and their mat of morning hair.  And seeing them like that helps us not only to understand them better but to love them better.  But the journals of most people are mostly private.  Every once in a while, though, someone’s journal is published and we see them in ways we maybe never imagined.

You get to know people more through their journal, I think, than through anything else they have written.  In a book someone has written, for example, everything is rewritten and edited and proofread.  I remember reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and admiring not only the craftsmanship of his prose but his insights into the human condition.  Steinbeck was a Nobel Prize-winning author so he should be insightful, he should be confident in his craft.

What he should be, though, was so different from what he was.  I saw beneath the polish of his prose one day when I was browsing the shelves of a used bookstore.  It was his familiar name on the spine of an unfamiliar book that caught my eye.  The book was titled, Working Days, and it was the journal he kept during the writing of The Grapes of Wrath.  Reading it, I learned that the title of the novel came from his wife, who thought the line from the Civil War hymn captured the story’s essence.  The research, I learned, was not mostly from firsthand observation but secondhand, from a man who had studied migrant workers, following them from camp to camp, listening to what they talked about, how they expressed themselves, what figures of speech they used.  And Steinbeck, I learned, was anything but confident in his abilities.  He was full of self-doubt, worried at how slow the writing was going, wondering if he would be able to meet his deadline, and if what he had written was any good.  And he was crabby about all the distracting noise his neighbor’s remodeling project was making.  All this to say, the more accurate picture of Steinbeck was captured in the journal, not the novel.”

Now, THAT was worthwhile journaling!!  It made me realize that most of us should keep our journaling to ourselves, where it belongs.  It’s not that it’s because John Steinbeck was a famous, well-thought-of, well honored author and other journaling people are not.  It’s that there is such a surfeit of self-advancing material today that the world doesn’t need more, it needs less.


This is my opinion, and I know it might be a bit hypocritical coming in the form of a written blog, but so be it.

I’ve said my piece.  I won’t be upset if you disagree with me.  I just may not read your journal entries should you choose to publish them online.  But I still love you.  And I would love to know what you think, because this is an interesting discussion topic.  So let me hear from you.


  1. Good thoughts Rita. I often recommend journaling to clients because there is research that it helps us process our emotions, thoughts…like talk therapy. I suggest you don’t even re-read it yourself, so don’t see it as a record of anything. Just a way to get it out of our head. I even suggest to not read it again.
    But then there may be times of reflection you are journaling kind of like a blogging from an experience or something you read and want to share I guess. That is a different purpose and maybe sharable. Also, just had the thought maybe we should be sure to burn the journals if we don’t want our deepest musings to be revealed to the world. Steinbeck’s journal sounds very interesting, and I wonder what he would think of it being on the shelves for all to read.
    Blessings to you and Michael!

    • Thanks for this, Robi. I think journals and journaling have a definite place, just not sure they belong in everyone’s face. I love, on the other hand, the photos of your dogs! They truly make me smile. Keep posting. Love to Rob.

  2. Interesting blog. I agree with you. It seems like I always agree with you. I haven’t done much journaling. I remember writing down details of every day of my first trip overseas and never read it again and don’t know where it is now. I’ve written down, for posterity, my testimony and how I met Don , my trip to South America and import incidents in my life just for the grandkids to know. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

    My back is better and I have stopped taking the strong pain pills in the daytime. Tylenol seems to help most of the pain. I’ve had this weird thing happened a couple times in the night where I can’t sleep because I’m jittery and moving and tossing and turning. Bob and Kathy think it’s withdrawals from that pain pill. I looked it up once in there are hundreds of with-drawl symptoms from things like that, weird.

    Have you had any other bad migraines in the last few days? What’s on your agenda today?Nothing much on mine today. I’m trying to walk on the treadmill again, slowly.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. I am not sure about a Journal but recently I attended a funeral which was an example i think people should be committed to. The funeral was for a 98 year old woman that has been attending Calvary with her son(my partner when we were police officer for Los Angeles}. Often we go to memorial services for people we know and people will speak about thier experiences with the person.

    This service started with a few scriptures from the Bible and then the pastor said i was told she would take care of the rest of the service.

    Mrs. Sandvig had created a CD of her life from beginning to end. This is a memory for her family to know what thier background is and all about thier family. it also allowed alot of others to get to know her.

    not sure what this has to do with your blog, just thought i would write something

    • Interesting, Tom. Thanks for sharing. I love the fact that you write something so often. Keep it up!!!

  4. I love journaling 🙂 I find it highly healing and therapeutic!

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