Keeping Your Journal Private Might Be Easier Than You Think

A friend left the following comment on my post, A New Kind of Journal:

I am interested in hearing where people who write their “whole truth” in journals actually PUT these journals? Do they lock them in a safety deposit box at the bank? Keep them in the glove compartment of their car? In the attic under an old mattress? Where??

Your Car
If you hide your no-holds-barred journal in your car, it probably would make sense to write in it in your car as well. Otherwise you’d have to go back and forth with it: Bring it inside the house or cafe or library (somewhere comfortable to write), write in it, then take it back out to your car. Back and forth. Too inconvenient. And all that coming and going could appear silly and surreptitious to anyone in the vicinity.

Pink tulips under our hedge

Pink tulips under our hedge

I don’t lock my glove compartment, though, so anyone with a key to my car (like my husband or my mechanic) could, if he were interested, read my most personal stuff. So, a car wouldn’t work for me.

A Safe Deposit Box
This would be better, but you’d have to go to the bank, get into the box, then sit writing in that bare little room where you’re supposed to be looking over your important documents, then put it back in the box and go home.

Fine, I guess—if you only want to write in your journal occasionally and can get to your bank during the hours it’s open. But, maybe you could pack it away in a home safe . . .

Under a Mattress in the Attic
That doesn’t seem secure, either. There’s always a chance someone’s going to prowl around it looking for an old, well, an old something they lost track of. In the process they think, “I’ll just move this old mattress out of the way . . . Hey what’s this? A diary! Well, why don’t I sprawl out on this same mattress and read it?”

I don’t remember any of the authors in Writers and Their Notebooks covering this issue . . . I guess they don’t worry that someone will peek inside their journals and steal an idea they’re working on. Now that I think of it, I don’t believe the question has ever come up in the journaling classes I lead, either.

How to Keep Your Journal Private
Actually, the solution to the problem of keeping nosey folks out of your journal might be way simpler than hiding it in a car, locking it in a bank, or secreting it in your attic.

Maroon and yellow tulips against the house

Maroon and yellow tulips against the house

Kristin (no last name given) writes in her post, Keeping a Journal Private, that she feels her journal is secure because “I surround myself with people I trust implicitly.” So do I. My husband isn’t suspicious of my writing, so he doesn’t look in my journals, which are stored in open boxes in the attic and stacked in plain view on file cabinets in my office.

So that’s one method: keeping company with trustworthy people. Sneaks and snoops give me the willies in general, so I don’t give them free run of my house.

Kristin has a whole list of ways to keep your journal private, such as using code words or a kind of shorthand you create. Years ago, when I was single, I practically invented a language just for my journal.

But here’s what might be an even easier way to secure your journals: electronic journaling, which Kristin points out “enables you to secure entries with a password and ‘hide’ files” on your computer. Et voila-—your words are safe from snoops.

If you liked this post, please tweet it and share it on Facebook. And comment on your strategies for keeping your journals private.

Coming up: My next post will be about setting down your truths in your memoirs, which are intended for the public. Now, that’s a scary prospect.

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9 thoughts on “Keeping Your Journal Private Might Be Easier Than You Think

  1. Hi L. Thanks for your follow-up to the dilemma of Keeping Your Journals Private. Perhaps I am one of the few people who worry about this?

    I don’t think it has anything to do with trusting the people around me – I do trust them implicitly. As a matter of fact, I am most worried about what happens after I die (yes, really). And what I worry about is hurting peoples’ feelings.

    I have very strong feelings (I’m sure just like everyone else does), and at any given point in time I may express them in many different ways. I might refer to a loved one’s annoying habits, or my deepest feelings about a previous love, or the difficulties of being a step parent.

    I would never want the people I love to read my journal and feel hurt by those words, or even worse, perceive these words to overshadow my true love for them. I have to admit that these concerns have been an obstacle to my continual journal writing.

    I guess this may seem silly, but even after I die I don’t want to hurt people, especially those I love the most.

    It’s very interesting to hear others’ thoughts about this.

  2. I understand what you’re saying, Terry. Maybe in your journal, after you write how a loved one irritated you on a particular occasion, you could add: “But I love him/her madly. I know I won’t feel this way tomorrow.” That way they’d know you were just venting.

    I need to think about why the thought of people finding my journals after I’m dead doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s because I feel I’ve spent too much of my life monitoring what I say.

  3. When I first started writing fiction, I worried that a family member would find it and read it, and mostly this was worrisome because I didn’t want anyone else reading crappy first draft stuff! But I don’t worry about my husband – not only do I trust him, he isn’t much of a reader and isn’t interested (and yes, sometimes I wish that were otherwise).

  4. Nobody reads my stuff and if the dear hubby, who has all my passwords, and knows where all my journals are…right in plain view on the shelf and at my desk. He never reads them because sports are not included. There are no scores, no hits, no time-outs, no jump shots etc. And if the kids come to visit, said journals are not available for viewing. They are not in sight. And if I kick the bucket before he does, he has to get rid of them all. Nobody is spared in journaling. I let it all hang out. 🙂 (hugs). Destroy upon my demise. 🙂

  5. I enjoyed Susan Rowland’s response. Great idea to make a deal with husband that if I kick the bucket first he has to destroy them….but I admit with a heavy heart that if it were reversed, I would have a hard time not sneaking a peek!

  6. Terry, I know, huh? Now I am thinking how I should go back and edit out any bad stuff that may hurt feelings.
    Mary, yes about illegible handwriting. Great secret weapon. Hahaha!

  7. It looks like this post might have done more to frighten journal keepers than to reassure them. Sorry about that. Now I’m almost afraid to post about writing the truth in memoirs. 🙂

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