What to do with old journals?

I have NEWS and it's kind of exciting.  OK, my inner 5 year old says it's VERY exciting!

I am flying to Winnipeg to sing with Tegan and Sara in a mini choir!choir!choir! at the Junos! That’s the Canadian version of the Grammy’s for my international friends.

You can check out my audition video if you like at the end of this post.  (Yes, I had to audition, scary!)

From the Junos to old Journals...

What is your relationship to your old journals?  Do you catalog them and keep them in chronological order on your bookshelf?  Are they mouldering in the basement somewhere?  Are they long gone?

What to do with old journals is a contentious topic so I thought I would tackle it in this week's blog and video.  I'll say right now that it's very important that you do what's right for you not only when it comes to old journals but when it comes to any of your stuff.

Here's the video and I'll dig a little deeper below:

OK, so first things first, what am I talking about when I say journals? 

I'm talking about the brain dump, complaining, does s/he like me, what's wrong with me, I hate my _______ (fill in the blank: parents/boss/bf/gf/bff/husband/wife/partner/SELF/job/city/friends/body/hair/clothes/LIFE etc...) journals.

I am not talking about the latest draft of a short story you're working on or the notes you're taking for a screen play you've been thinking about.  This is not creative writing.  This is prime the pump, take out the garbage so you can actually hear what's really there, writing.

I spent years doing morning pages from the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.  If you've never had a stint of doing morning pages, I highly recommend it. 

Every morning I would grab my journal, head to the bathroom (TMI?) and write for 15 minutes or 3 pages whatever came first. 

(I know what you're thinking...  Ewww, why the bathroom and if you're sitting there for 15 minutes something is wrong!)

Well, the bathroom analogy is kind of perfect because it reflects what this writing was.  A way to clean the system of worries, repetitive thoughts, anxieties and dull observations.  To clear out the crap to make way for a fresh new day. 

Julia describes morning pages this way:

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.

- Julia Cameron from the Artist's Way

Now I'm sure there are some folks who are producing beautiful, thoughtful, well-written, engaging Morning Pages, but that's not what I'm talking about here.

Half the time I would open mine with "I don't know what to write about.  I feel stupid.  I should shave my legs.  I miss the sparkly leg hair of my youth..."

So, are we clear?  Not high writing. Just thought clearing, boring, repetitive crap. 

Three pages a day for just one year amounts to 1,095 pages of writing.

If you use those cheapo 100 sheet composition notebooks from the dollar store like I do, that's about 12 journals a year.  If you've been journaling regularly for the past 5, 10, 20 years, that's 60, 120, 240 journals.


Now, the question is, what to do with all this writing?

Well, I would like to recommend that you LET IT GO!

Do you have to let it go perfectly?  No. 

  • You can burn it

  • You can shred it

  • You can rip it up

  • You can put it in the recyling bin

If you decide to burn it, make sure that you have a plan and a firepit to complete your project. The last thing you want is for the journals to go back in the basement for a year or two while you figure out how and where you'll do it.

If your mind is screaming "Cecilia's crazy, I don't want to let go of my journals!" it's OK, you don't have to. It's very important that you listen to what's right for you.

This post is meant as encouragement for those who already have an idea that they might like to let go.

And what freedom there is in letting go!  Freedom from the negative beliefs and self talk.  Ahhh...

There was great freedom achieved in writing them down in the first place and there will be great freedom experienced in letting them go.

All those years of writing morning pages changed me profoundly.  I am so grateful for the process.  I'm also grateful that I gave myself permission to say good-bye as that changed me profoundly too.

If one of your intentions is to write more or create more and you're feeling stuck this post is especially important for you.  There are great strides to be made when you let go of the old to make space for new creations.

I'm so curious to hear...  What is your relationship to your journals?  Have you ever decided to let go of old writing?  How did it feel?  Please let me know in the comments below and if you have a friend whose been talking about the boxes of journals their basement, take a moment to pass this along.

Big Heart-Wings LOVE,



p.s. It's Spring which is obviously a great time to clear clutter whether it's old patterns or old journals...  If you've been thinking about getting my help I'd love to hear from you.  Email me and we'll set up a time to chat!

p.p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it!  Just pop on over here to join!  All the cool kids are doing it!

Bonus Video!  Here's my audition video for Tegan and Sara if you're curious, and if you have a TV and want to see me on it, just tune into the Junos on Sunday.  :)