Recently, I was giving a presentation to a group of professional women on organizing and time management for the busy entrepreneur. In passing, I mentioned that I am an avid journal writer, and that my new book, The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life, which is due out in February 2011, has pages for readers to journal at the end of each chapter. What followed amazed me. The participants asked tons of questions about my journal writing experience: how long have I been writing a journal, how often do I write, do I write long hand or on a computer, where do I store my journals, has anyone ever read them, what time of day do I write, etc.

Wow! I was blown away. I answered their questions, and let other participants comment. I never expected my off-handed comment to result in such a lively discussion. It seems women are hungry for information on keeping a journal.

So, I decided to post about my journal writing experience in case there are more women that are interested. Here goes:

To me, my journal has always been a safe haven to work through my desires, dreams, problems, obstacles, challenges, and goals. Journaling is a great way to dialogue with yourself, and often leads to powerful breakthroughs. There is something magical that happens when you put words down on paper. Words are powerful in and of themselves. But writing down words is even more powerful! I received my first journal as a gift when I was eight years old. I have filled countless journals since then, and the act of journaling remains an important one to me up until this day. So think of a journal as a gift to yourself.

For years, I wrote daily. But now I write whenever I want, for however long I want, and in whichever format I want (see a pattern here?). Julia Cameron advocates writing morning pages in her book The Artists Way. I did morning pages for years, and liked how it seemed to help me “look forward” in my writing, as opposed to when I wrote in the evenings, which felt more like I was “looking backward” and reporting on past events. But you should write whenever it is convenient for you to carve out the time.

I write mostly at a pretty little desk I have in a sitting/reading room on the second floor of my house near my bedroom. It is a lovely room decorated in yellow and red, with a window that faces a big Maple tree. It feels like an escape and helps me to get in the mood to write.

I still love writing by hand. For about 2 years, when my Mom was very sick with cancer and I was stretched thin with running my business, tending to my personal life, and being there for her, I wrote my journal electronically on my laptop. It may not have been my preference (I love the feel of pen to paper and am very tactile so writing by hand is special to me), but it was what worked during that difficult time.

Have I ever been blocked? Well, yes. And when I am, I don’t force myself to write in my journal. I take a break and try to examine why I feel blocked and what will help the journal writing flow again. It always eventually does flow again, and I don’t scold myself for the block.

In fact, as you have probably surmised by now, everything about my journal writing experience is positive. There is no Must or Should – no rules to follow. I give myself permission to let it flow when I want and how I want. In this regard, my journal writing has always been a release for me.

I am blessed with a husband who absolutely values my privacy and thinks my journal writing is a wonderful hobby. He gives me space to write literally and figuratively. And he has never read my journals. I can leave them out on my nightstand, or out on that little desk, and he respects my boundaries.

A few years ago, I found out that all of my childhood journals, from age 8 to 18, had been lost in a move. I was devastated! I felt like I lost a piece of me. I wanted to look back and revisit those early years to prepare for writing a memoir (yes, I do periodically go back and read past journals to see how I have grown or changed, to relive a beautiful memory, etc.). Unfortunately, that will never happen. Upon reflection, and after speaking to some close friends about it, I decided that I am not supposed to write that memoir from the voice of a young girl. I am supposed to write it as the older, wiser woman I am now looking back on those early experiences.

Ironically, I now only have journals from when I met my husband at 19 until present. In my will, I had made arrangements to leave my childhood journals to my Mom. Sadly, the journals are now lost and my Mom has passed away. Thus, my journals will be left to my husband, since by the date of the journals, it looks like my life started when I met him anyway! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you keep a journal, I hope you continue to enjoy the process. If you haven’t tried journal writing yet, give it a chance. You may love it. I know I do.

About Lisa Montanaro

Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and enjoy productive and profitable businesses. To receive her free Toolkit, Achieve Powerhouse Success with Purpose, Passion & Productivity, visit Lisa is the author of "The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life" published by Peter Pauper Press. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help you be purposeful, passionate and productive, contact Lisa at (530) 302-5306 or by e-mail at

7 Responses to “My Experience with Journal Writing”

  1. Christine Marmoy

    Hi Lisa. That’s so funny I was just talking about my journaling as well. I found it really useful when I got sick a few weeks ago. I couldn’t come up with an idea for an article, my brain was like jelly and going back to my journal helped me reconnect with my business and ideas came back slowly but truly. It is a simple but so powerful tool…and I encourage everybody to try it.

    • Lisa

      Christine – Thanks for your comment! I love that you are an avid journal writer too, and that it helped you when your brain was “like jelly”. It is such a powerful tool, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Jeanne

    I’ve never been able to get myself to journal. Not enough motivation. Now that I write a blog, I guess it’s a start. Maybe I just needed an audience. Then again, the type of journaling you’re talking about involves private thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears. My inner dialog is scary enough without it being written down for prosperity. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Lisa

      Jeanne – Thanks for your comment, and the good laugh! Love your sense of humor. ๐Ÿ™‚ But seriously, keeping a journal is not for everyone, so as long you found the tools that work for you, all is good.

  3. Nadine Nicholson

    Lisa, you gave me chills when you said, โ€œI decided that I am not supposed to write that memoir from the voice of a young girl. I am supposed to write it as the older, wiser woman I am now looking back on those early experiences.โ€ Love, love, love this. I also journal when I want to, in my case itโ€™s often before I go to sleep. I love to write what Iโ€™m grateful for. A client gave me my current journal as a gift โ€“ on the front cover it says, โ€œLife is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.โ€

    • Lisa

      Nadine- Thanks for your comment, and support about my statement about how to rephrase the fact that my childhood journals are gone, which was quite hard for me to swallow at first. I LOVE the quote on your new journal (so many people that journal got them as a gift, which is why I often give journals as a gift!). And I love that you write before you drift off to sleep, which helps you be grateful for your day, and probably helps you to sleep better too as you get it all out of your head! ๐Ÿ™‚


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