Why I turned to digital journaling

Journaling remains a major force in my life. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t write a journal entry.  I find the time to write down at leastMadeline-Sharples-312x250 no matter where I am.

M. Shannon Hernandez recently posted my thoughts on digital journaling at her The Writing Whisperer blog. I feel so honored to be her guest poster. Here’s

Why I Turned to Digital Journaling 

Writing for Healing

I turned to journaling regularly in 1993 just after my son Paul was diagnosed bipolar, and I continued on after his suicide death in 1999. Journaling became my therapy. Keeping my fingers moving across the page was both an obsession and a healing balm. It gave me a way to organize my fears, pain, and thoughts. As a result I have become a huge proponent of journaling as a way to heal. I still journal every day.

At first 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 California – 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 wrote in a very special place when I wrote in those notebooks.

Lost Memories

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. And personally going to the airline’s lost and found didn’t get the notebook back. Now I use my notebooks for taking workshop notes. I write my journal entries on my computer.

The Decision to Go Digital

When I look back at that decision to write my journal entries digitally, I realized that digital journaling would have made writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, so much easier. My hand-written journal entries were source material for my memoir, and as such, I had to painstakingly read through my notebooks, underline appropriate entries, and then type them into computer book files one word at a time. This task took months. By the way, journaling is a good way to kick start any kind of writing piece.

Even the physical act of writing is helpful. When I used a pen I wrote until my hand cramped. Now when I type, I sometimes pound my fingers on my computer’s keyboard. That really works to heal some kind of stress. Also when I wrote by hand I found that I couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. Now when I write on the computer I sometimes type 500 to 750 words in a matter of minutes. I just tap away with no stopping for editing. It’s total stream of consciousness. My fingers just seem to fly in time with what I have on my mind.

Private Entries

Keeping our precious and secret journals private is also easier when journaling digitally. The computer gives me the ability to have complete privacy – the key to honest and open journaling. I keep my journal entries in a password-protected locked document file, which seems so much safer than the risk of losing a journal notebook someplace where anyone can get their hands and eyes on it.  But no matter how we journal – either digitally or by hand – I recommend everyone try it and learn the power that can be gained from journaling.

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