Journaling,  Uncategorized

Journaling: R = Retreat

Retreat has two distinct meanings.

One is more negative in nature: to withdraw from a situation, possibly for safety reasons. I imagine an army retreating from the enemy.

The other is more positive: a place of refuge. In this instance, I think of taking a writing retreat to a small cabin in the mountains by the lake.

Journaling can incorporate both of these definitions – at different times, depending on the circumstance.

Our journals can offer us refuge… a place to get away from the thoughts in our head and have them escape into words on a page. But this only happens when we feel safe to confide in this space.

If we are concerned with others reading our words, we will hold back. If we are afraid our words will inadvertently hurt those close to us, we won’t be candid or honest in our writing. This hinders our emotional healing process.

On the other hand, if we are afraid our words will be misunderstood by others, causing a riff in a relationship or perhaps undeserved anger, we will censor our writing to protect ourselves. But the internal angst will continue to chip away our identity.

This kind of retreat is harmful and necessitates we put security systems in place.

If you fear wandering eyes will search out your handwritten journals, then I suggest keeping them in a special hiding place. If your concern involves family members, perhaps you can keep personal journals at work. Or perhaps you can invest in a small safe, hidden in the closet.

If neither of these alternatives seem viable, perhaps journaling on the computer is your best option.

Many apps and word processing programs offer the opportunity to password protect documents.

I particular enjoy the website Penzu. While the basic service is free, I think it is well-worth the $20 annual fee for the professional plan. You can create as many journals as you desire AND each journal is double password protected: one password to access your account – another password to access the journal.

I am fortunate not to have this security concern. My husband respects my privacy, and I am grateful. But for those of you who do worry… I hope the above suggestions help.

I’d like to end this rather somber post focusing on something more positive: a Journaling Retreat.

There are times when we need to get away from the ordinary, everyday grind and retreat to someplace  new. Freedom from daily chores coupled with a different environment can jumpstart inspiration and renew the soul.

This can be as simple as going to the park for an afternoon, or it can be as elaborate as escaping to the mountains – or the lake – or the beach for a weekend (or longer). Remember, the goal is to spend time with your thoughts and your journal – and to focus only on activities that rejuvenate.

I have yet to treat myself to such a retreat, but I have started a Pinterest board where I’ve saved rental properties that would be ideal for my writing getaway.

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Up next in this Journaling series: S is for Stepping Stones


  • Laurel Garver

    As a fiction writer rather than journal/memoir writer, I grapple with the very same problem of retreating from truth or from letting characters get into major muddles out of fear of how readers might misunderstand.

    I've done a writing retreat once, with some other women I didn't know well, which put me a bit on edge. I didn't write nearly as much as I'd hoped, because I got bad performance anxiety, worrying that I wasn't productive enough, didn't have good enough ideas, etc., etc. If I were to do one again, I'd want solitude, or one close writing buddy along for encouragement.

  • My Cozy Book Nook

    Oh Laurel… I completely understand ALL of this!
    I've often thought of writing memoir, but fear inadvertently hurting others (both those who have already passed as well as though who are still with me)

    While I love the idea of getting together with fellow writers and allowing the synergy to fuel my writing… I also know that I would suffer from performance anxiety. I am much better on my own (I think I might be part hermit!)

  • lorig

    I am thankful my husband respects the privacy of my journals. He encourages me to write to work things out so they don't eat at me. If I think a piece of writing will help him understand me, then I show him that piece. I have not taken a writing retreat with or without others but the idea intrigues me.

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