The road to journal writing is lousy with road blocks. You should see the collection I’ve amassed over the years! Everyone’s got their own favorites.
I was recently talking to my friend Nathan, a gifted photographer and documentary film maker. He’s not only creative, but highly productive. He expressed an interest in journaling, but he was concerned he wouldn’t be happy with the outcome. “What if the next day I reread it and don’t like what I wrote?”
“Then don’t re-read it,” I told him. “Throw it out.”
This advice came spontaneously, but it surprised even me. I’m obsessed with archiving. Every word I’ve ever put on paper since age six is catalogued and filed in acid-free archival storage. I’d add climate control and a fireproof safe, but my apartment is only 300 sq. ft.
(Although I admit I occasionally fantasize about everything I own being consumed in flames. It would be devastating, yes. But think about the intoxicating freedom on the other side. No history. Clean slate. )
I’ve been around the block enough to know that just because something works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you – and vice versa. If you’re serious about improving your life, don’t take anyone’s advice without testing it out first. See if it works for you. This journey is not one-size-fits-all.
So despite my visible discomfort, I recommended that Nathan throw away his journal when he was done writing. He thought that was a great idea. He said that just might work.
5 Benefits of Trashing Your Journal
I know some folks who regularly purge their journaling archives. Out with the old, in with the new. They do it painlessly, naturally. It works for them. Would any of these reasons make it work for you?
1. Pure liberation
Talk about Zen and embracing impermanence! Throwing out your journals can be totally freeing. You’re tossing your attachments to the wind and claiming back personal power of choice.
This may sound strange, but I see my hair quite similarly. Chopping it all off (or shaving my head!) is ridiculously empowering. It’s liberating to watch all that history fall right into the garbage.
2. Clean slate
Nothing like a fresh start. The past is done. We can’t change it. If you find yourself ruminating on your past or you’re filled with regret, a clean slate might do the trick.
3. Keep the process
Most of the benefits of journaling come from the process of writing. Eliminating the product of writing keeps your focus directly on what’s important: getting it done.
4. Freedom from self-criticism
If you throw out your journals, your inner critic has no ammunition to use against you. You don’t have to like what you’ve written, and you won’t even be able to judge it. Once it’s gone, you’ve got no fodder to criticize yourself over.
5. Ultimate privacy
If you’re concerned about others reading your journals – either this weekend or after you’ve moved on from this life – destroying them is the perfect way to protect your privacy. Just be sure you invest in a quality shredder to avoid any dumpster divers.
Do you trash your journals? Or do you prefer to hold on to them, like me? What would happen if you did the opposite of what you’ve been doing?