Perhaps it was pink and flowery gifted to you as a girl to record your hopes and dreams. Or perhaps a first love presented to you a leather-bound journal to write your private thoughts.
The cover hardly matters. All that matters are the pages filled with your dreams, desires, personal experiences and private thoughts—the emotions—felt, remembered, and written.
There was a time when recording one’s thoughts and feelings was considered the occupation of would be writers and teenage girls until Oprah announced it was good for the soul. Soon men and women alike regardless of occupation or age found bound pages and a pen and set out to put psychologists out of business.
Turns out, recording one’s thoughts and feelings is cathartic, gives clarity and perspective, reduces stress, and helps individuals to understand and know themselves better. However, these benefits are only realized if this method works for you.
Being a writer, I have an impressive collection of journals and diaries. Each one given to me by a well intentioned gift giver who assumes that all writers must have the need or desire to scribble down every thought and musing. Not so with me.
Feeling the pressure to scrawl down greatness in between the pages of a beautifully bound book of blank pages was always just about enough to make me chuck the whole thing and find work at a respectable 9-5.
So, the catharsis, the clarity, the perspective all lost on me. After many years, I’ve had to admit that just like yoga, journaling doesn’t work for me. Of course, like yoga, I am always willing to give it one more try. This effort, however, will remain private—a correspondence between the blank pages and me.
The privacy of recording one’s thoughts in an unseen place, however, is becoming increasingly uncommon with the proliferation of social media. Today, every one assumes the identity of writer as they text, tweet, and post every thought, experience and feeling.
Who hasn’t winced or even gasped while scrolling through their Facebook feed? It isn’t unusual to see someone admit an affair, confess a transgression or divulge details best left private.
Social media platforms have allowed everyone to take up the mantle of writer but should it be so? Is it a good idea? Just as all writers are not made more creative by penning every thought, not every person typing every thought is made a writer.
I was recently scrolling through my Facebook feed when I happened upon a post that caused me to utter aloud, “She said what?”
The question becomes how does this free and reckless expression affect not only the reader but also the “writer?”
Depending on the magnitude of what is admitted, it can cost them jobs, damage relationships and ruin reputations.
I caution today’s “writers” to understand the permanence of your words, which unlike torn paper remains even after hitting delete. It is important to appreciate that there is beauty and intimacy in the privacy of thought.
Rambling stream of consciousness rants are not fiction. They are your life and your recording of it is an indelible mark you make upon the world. Choose your words wisely.
Perhaps instead you could post the adorable picture of your dog, announce your wedding date but if you need to express your darkest feelings or deepest thoughts, grab a pen and a piece of paper and write, “Dear Diary.” It may be worthwhile, even if you only fill two pages.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.