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Journaling

  • If life is envisioned as a continuously running motion picture, the keeping of a notebook stops the action and allows a meaningful scene to be explored frame by frame.

  • Writing a journal means that facing your ocean you are afraid to swim across it, so you attempt to drink it drop by drop.

    • George Sand,
    • 1837, in Marie Jenney Howe, ed., The Intimate Journal of George Sand ()
  • Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.

  • Writing bridges the inner and outer worlds and connects the paths of action and reflection.

  • My journal is my life's companion.

  • Writing makes a map, and there is something about a journey that begs to have its passage marked.

  • Most of us have developed a fairly extensive vocabulary for describing pain, as though the journal were a doctor requiring much detail to make the correct diagnosis. The roundness of the spiritual journey cannot be expressed without developing an equally extensive vocabulary for talking to ourselves and others about the nature of wonder, joy, ecstasy, love, transfiguration.

  • We are living in a renaissance of personal writing. People are rebalancing the impersonalization endemic to modern society with an increase in personal introspection. We have enough common psychology under our belts to know that psychology doesn't explain or heal everything and that it isn't the fulfillment of awareness, but its beginning. We are undergoing a shift in paradigms in which we are trying to develop new models for humanness and human responsibility. This is no small task. Our individual lives are placed under increasing pressure to respond adequately to both inner and outer change.

  • When you choose to write using yourself as the source of the story, you are choosing to confront all the silences in which your story has been protectively wrapped. Your job as a writer is to respectfully, determinedly, free the story from the silences and free yourself from both.

  • A diary helps build up the muscles of your personality.

  • People who keep journals have life twice.

  • None but the lonely heart, they say, keeps a diary. None but a lonelier heart, perhaps, reads one. The diary keeper has no one to speak to; the diary reader has no one who speaks to him. The diary writer is at least talking to himself. The diary reader is listening to a man talking to himself.

  • Letters tell you what the writer thinks of the recipient; journals tell you who the writer is.

  • Letters strike me as an attempt to tell others how you are. Journals are an attempt to discover who you are.

  • Superficial to understand the journal as just a receptable for one's private, secret thoughts — like a confidante who is deaf, dumb, and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself. ... The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • 1957, in David Rieff, ed., Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 ()
  • Decline of the letter, the rise of the notebook! One doesn't write to others any more; one writes to oneself.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • 1980, in David Rieff, ed., As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh ()
  • We [Tristine Rainer and I] taught the diary as an exercise in creative will; as an exercise in synthesis; as a means to create a world according to our wishes, not those of others; as a mean of creating the self, of giving birth to ourselves. We taught diary writing as a way of reintegrating ourselves when experience shatters us, to help us out of the desperate loneliness of silence and the anxieties of alienation. In the diary we discovered a voice for reading the deep sources of metaphysical and numinous qualities contained in human beings. We found in it the ultimate instrument for explorations of new forms of consciousness and ecstasy. We practiced it as a way of opening vision into experience, deepening understanding of others; as a way to touch and reach the depths of human beings; as nourishment; as a means of linking the content of the dream to our actions so that they become harmonious and interactive.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • in Tristine Rainer, The New Diary ()
  • ... a few italics really do relieve your feelings.

  • A personal magic begins to enter the diary through time. Diarists seem to develop special sensibilities — a perception of meaningful subjective patterns, fateful coincidences, and prophetic dreams — as they learn to follow their feelings and intuitions.

  • Diary writing is free of ... conventions and rules. Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes.

  • ... the New Diary is a practical psychological tool that enables you to express feelings without inhibition, recognize and alter self-defeating habits of mind, and come to know and accept that self which is you. It is a sanctuary where all the disparate elements of a life — feelings, thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, fantasies, practicalities, worries, facts, and intuitions — can merge to give you a sense of wholeness and coherence. It can help you understand your past, discover joy in the present, and create your own future.

  • [People keep] a diary as an active, purposeful communication with self. ... Later they reread what has accumulated from the simple act of satisfying the needs and desires of the moment. And all find in their hands a book that contains — in form, content, and style — a unique, unrepeatable story of self. From reflecting upon what has come from within they discover unrecognized parts of their personalities and interests of which they were unaware. They see patterns of meaning in their lives and secrets of self more interesting than a detective story.

  • ... each diarist had a golden nugget of self-discovered knowledge to share. One had a new journal method for alleviating depression, another a means of contacting her real feelings, another a suggestion for developing a creative work.

  • The diary is the only form of writing that encourages total freedom of expression. Because of its very private nature, it has remained immune to any formal rules of content, structure, or style. As a result the diary can come closest to reproducing how people really think and how consciousness evolves.

  • What fun it is to generalize in the privacy of a note book. It is as I imagine waltzing on ice might be. A great delicious sweep in one direction, taking you your full strength, and then with no trouble at all, an equally delicious sweep in the opposite direction. My note book does not help me think, but it eases my crabbed heart.

  • ... she was a journaler, one of those people who spend more time writing about their lives than living them.

  • A detailed account of your trip will be a joy forever after you get home, but it will be an everlasting nuisance along the way.

  • Keeping a journal implies hope ...