Another pitch about journaling

One of my friends who is still working full time shared with me her desire to do something besides work – something creative. I suggested classes at our El Camino Community College and the South Bay Adult School maybe in jewelry making or to learn a new language. But she said she’d like to get into writing.

I asked her if she journaled. With that she pushed herself away from the table and leaned her body against the back of her chair, like she was physically moving away from that subject. After a long pause, she told me she couldn’t write down anything private for fear of it getting into the wrong hands.

Of course, that’s a common fear amongst those of us who journal, but it hasn’t stopped me. When I first started journaling regularly back in 1993, I wrote in notebooks – the finer the better. I especially love the ones I bought in France and later found at Banner Stationer’s in El Segundo, CA by Clairefontaine. The pages are very thick and slick and don’t show through to the backside when written on in ink. Also, the covers are in beautiful jewel-tones. I always felt like I was writing in a very special place when I wrote in those notebooks.

However, a few years ago – after being so careful to clutch my notebooks close to my chest any time I was out and about – I left one in the seat pocket in front of me while on a flight home. I went to the airline’s lost and found, but alas, I didn’t get the notebook back. As a result of that loss – and luckily it was a fairly new notebook so I didn’t lose too much – I use my notebooks for taking workshop notes and write my journal entries on my computer.

Of course, that doesn’t guarantee privacy ether. I managed to have a laptop ripped off at another airport a while ago with all my stuff, including my journal entries on it. However, when I first started journaling on my computer I created a separate folder for my journal documents that is only accessible with a password. And I did not add that password to my keychain. I picked a password that was meaningful only to me, and I know for sure the only way I’ll ever forget it is if I lose all my marbles – probably not very likely.

I told my friend that story as I tried to convince her to start her journal writing. And by now she was leaning in toward me. “Start writing about fifteen minutes a day,” I said, and she seemed interested. I’ve been journaling the first thing every morning for over twenty-five years and have never felt violated. Also, I’ve found it to be a good way to kick start any kind of writing piece. My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, all began with journal entries.

I’ll follow up with my friend soon and ask her how it’s going. In the meantime, I’ll ask you:

Do you journal? If you do, how do you protect your writing?

Please share about your journaling life with me and my Choices readers.


  1. Donna Smithsilver says

    Hello Madeline, I read your about “Reinventing Your Life after age 60” ….. your suggestions are good ,actually I had already done a few of these… thank you, for your Courage , it really helps other people who have similar Life Experiences , and having a difficult time of it. On a lighter note I would like to suggest you move to a country like Turkey … I recently spent a month there and found it to be so interesting , so different from the USA, the world is truly interesting and there were so many different people and points of view, essentially I found the people to be very real and fine.

    • Madeline Sharples says

      Thanks so much for the suggestion, Donna. Actually I’ve always wanted to move to Italy – in fact, I’m still working on it. Anything to get away from what’s going on here. And yes, I’ll definitely visit Turkey.
      Also, thanks for reading my blog. I very much appreciate it.

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