A short introduction to Journaling

Guest Post by Jan Gero

Journal and diary writing are essentially the same thing – a writing that transfers your life experience to blank paper. For simplicity, I define journal-writing as more concerned with how you feel and what you think, thoughts & feelings; while diary-writing may be more concerned with where you are and what you are doing, facts & events. I also suggest that psyche and mind are nearly the same concepts, that journal-writing searches to connect with your psyche, while diary-writing strives to connect with your mind. Both are admirable actions.

To me journal-writing is an unrecognized and innovative art on the same expressive and revelatory level as painting, composing music, choreography, writing plays scripts novels short-stories and poems. It has a long learning curve, many pitfalls, and immense promise of rewards.

Writing your thoughts & feelings without self-deception is high art.

‘Journaling’ is my technique of writing my thoughts & my feelings. I have developed a process over the course of fifty years of writing and speaking journals. The first focus of this process is to find a quiet place in my life and environment to prepare myself to listen for and lock on to a path to my unconsciousness. Once, seemingly connected to a pathway, the second focus is to oil the wheels of an associative flow of thoughts & feelings. Much emotional static rises to discourage that flow – fear, guilt, propriety. This should not be dismissed – instead to struggle head on with it is my third focus, because often enough that is the very self-defense and rationalization that blocks you from accessing that very path to an authentic connection to your unconscious psyche. Once in the flow, let the automatic writing and speaking live.

Falling off and getting back on is a torturous and wondrous balancing act.

I believe that part of the model for my ‘journaling’ technique is the psychotherapy session – the therapist’s questions triggers search for answers; confronting reality is not a straight line path, nor only a conscious mental activity. Much habitual self-deception, and learned rationalized patterns, distort and deflect from unfamiliar uncomfortable psychical territory. Unlike the therapist and analysand relationship, in reaching for truth in writing, you need to be you own facilitator. Here is where patience needs to be practiced, and learning the tricks your mind plays.

My professional experience comes from self-publishing twenty-four books of journals from 1983-2011, and in 2012 publishing two books of short stories derived from my journals.

I use all three different tools in my ‘journaling’ – handwriting, computing and audio-recording. In the first I carry a spiral bound lined notebook most everywhere; in the second, I use a desktop computer in my studio/home; and thirdly I have a miniature audio recorder at my bedside permanently. This last is also used for my dream-journals because it is essential not to put activities between your dream memory recovery and its recording. I lean over, turn on the recorder, lay my head back on the pillow, and talk.

I have five basic suggestions for promoting successful journaling:

Create a quiet time of day to write when alone

Code-name the main people in your writing and speaking

Password protect your computer and lock-up your notebook

Do not be polite when writing and do speak your mind

Do not share your writing with anyone. Really.

Writing journals is primarily for your personal development and self-expression. You must forget about the opinions and reactions of others. This is for you and your life story. Much of life is mysterious, magical, incomprehensible dangerous – the attempt, through ‘journaling’ regularly, can bring profound personal understanding of yourself and of the people in your life. Your writing may, with time and practice, become expressive and insightful, worthy of others to read.

‘Journaling’ is the most self-enriching trip you will ever take.

PP: Patience and Practice



Jan Gero is a journal writer who has written consistently for fifty years. He has had published two books titled ‘me on me’ and ‘more me on me’ in 2012, which are each seven short stories derived from his journals. Previously he self-published twenty-four books of journals from 1983-2011. His journal work takes several forms, such as audio, video, dream and therapy-journals. In his eighty years he has had careers in architecture, fashion, modern dance and documentary filmmaker. He was born in Denmark and emigrated to America at age thirteen. For further info, visit www.myjournallife.com and www.mydrawinglife.com



Posted on August 9, 2013, in Blogging Authors, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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