Journaling With Sue

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Rowland through an online friend and editing client of mine, Andrea Lewis, author of the memoir, Dramaville.

I was honored when Sue invited me to appear on her web site. And, as a journal writing instructor myself, I was interested in Sue’s own journaling practice and work with others.

So, now it’s my pleasure to share Sue’s perspective on her work.
– Lynette

Susan Rowland

Susan Rowland

When did you begin journaling?
Journaling became a serious hobby for me in high school. Life was turbulent in the late 60s. The Viet Nam war, civil rights, the women’s movement, and East meets West consciousness influenced American culture in a Renaissance way.

We had Motown, jazz, rhythm and blues, and the beat poets. I fell in love with the arts and culture. Journal writing was my way of coping with coming of age and making sense of the world.

Did the practice afford you any useful insights into your own circumstances?
Yes. Journaling is a way to deal with events. My mother had a stroke when I was ten, so our small family had to adjust quickly. Mom survived but had challenges. I was a sensitive intuitive, but at that time I didn’t know what to do with the knowledge I was receiving.

Journaling is practical. Daily writing in a log shows us our issues (and talents) without judging them. After writing about something–like a problem, for example–long enough, we recognize a theme, then we decide to deal with it, and hopefully, solve it.

Journaling is a survival tool. The Diary of Anne Frank, and A Stolen Life; A Memoir, by Jaycee Dugard, are examples of how writing helped women to survive captivity. The three young women held hostage in Cleveland are now releasing the information that they kept journals.

Is there a relationship between your journaling and your art?
Definitely. I’m always connecting images with words. When words fail we can rely on our sense impressions–sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. A good writer involves the reader with the world of sensation.

What reasons would you have for encouraging others to journal?
It’s therapeutic. You create a confidante. There’s no worry about grammar or talent.

Journaling helps people connect their emotions to events and to organize their thoughts. I also teach students to use the diary to record other people’s stories and keep track of historical events. It works as a reference tool.

Experts are now showing that journaling helps improve the immune system and blood pressure, and can be used in conjunction with traditional therapy for treating depression and anxiety.

What is your work with those who write journals?
I’ve been facilitating journaling and art groups with seniors, teenagers, and children in formal settings such as community centers, schools, and orphanages in California and Arizona. I’m affiliated with Kathleen Adam’s Center for Journal Therapy.

I’m an advocate for those who want help in finding a voice. When you write or draw, sing or play an instrument, you can only do what you are doing in the “now” moment. Any expressive activity is a healing modality. There’s always room for another story, song, or drawing.

Susan E. Rowland is an intuitive artist, writer, and poet with a psychology degree. Among her passions is journaling. She’s a certified instructor of Journal to the Self® and Angel Therapy Practitioner® She does oracle readings and can be reached at See her work at Journal with Sue.

Sue lives near Cave Creek, Arizona, with her artist husband, Jesse. She’s currently blogging, working on a memoir, and enjoying being a grandmother. She loves to communicate and will respond to emails and inquiries. See her blog for upcoming events and workshops.

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10 thoughts on “Journaling With Sue

  1. Lynette, thank you so much for including me. I’m looking forward to reading your book. I always enjoy your blogs. You are a treasure chest of information!

  2. Hi Lesley, thanks for commenting. Sometimes my journal entries are sparse but I try to write something each day. I enjoy it for remembering phrases or write snippets of dialogue. Nice to meet you and happy writing!

  3. Hi Sue, this is a great interview. I wholeheartedly agree with the benefits of journalling. It has helped me ease my anxiety and depression. When I need to confront whatever comes up in my life, I turn to my journal. It is my lifeline, my confidante and a way for me to let go of the problems. This way it out of my head and onto paper for me to really examine what is at the core of my problems.

  4. Also, as Andrea knows, journaling is the perfect way to record experiences that you might later want to use in a memoir, or in a novel, for that matter. I consult my old journals regularly to see what was happening in my past and how I felt about events.

    And I believe wholeheartedly in the power of journaling to relieve pent up feelings that need an outlet. Stored tumultuous feelings can make us ill.

  5. Some of the writers I teach use their daily records of events as “project journals.” They deliberately store ideas and “snippets” there for later use in their creative writing.

  6. Hi Andrea, I think the freedom of the journal is about is about letting loose and allowing emotions to spill out onto the pages. We’re so comprised of rules in our lives, especially with writing. I do agree with your comment about the therapeutic aspects of journaling. Imagine what movies or theatre would be without emotion. Why would we want to contain it in our writing?

    Lynette, thanks for the opportunity!

  7. Love this post. Lynette you always write about the most interesting ideas.

    Sue & Lynette: I have journaled on and off for many years. I find that I STOP writing when the issue is just too personal or my feelings are too extreme. I have a fear of someone finding my journal – even after I die – and reading it without understanding the total context of what I was writing. I would never want to hurt anyone. As a matter of fact, I burnt a few journals I had written in my late teens and early twenties because they were so dark.

    Does anyone else have this problem?


  8. Hi Terry:

    You are so kind and considerate. I try very hard to be fair in my journal writing, even when I am recording something unflattering about someone. In fact, I probably go too far in the direction of, “Well, so and so probably had a good reason for what she/he did. She/he is under a lot of pressure these days, or remember how crappy his/her upbringing was.”

    But, I actually don’t give a fig what someone reads after I’m dead. Maybe I should, but I doubt anyone will want to read my 40 years of journals anyway!

    Thanks so much for commenting so candidly here.

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