Journalling - what to use, privacy etc

Hi, have just discovered this forum. I keep a journal and have done for years, I have various questions on the matter however and just wonder how other people feel and what they do for journalling.

Mainly its what to use. I do prefer books to loose leaf paper but the hard backed books I use at the moment are a bit cumbersome to carry around. I am thinking of moving onto soft cover spiral notebooks which are lighter to carry but may fill up quickly and still don't fit in my handbag so I'd have to carry it in a separate bag which I sometimes have on me anyway. I have tried using loose leaf paper and putting it into a binder back home (I write when I am out a lot) but somehow that has never satisfied me, there is something about writing in books rather than loose leaf sheets which never seems as satisfying. It seems a bit like writing on scraps of paper.

Another issue is privacy. I do live alone but even so I still worry about privacy, also when I have my journal when I am out - I have lost it a couple of times by leaving the bag I have it in on the bus or in a shop, luckily I have got it back but I guess loose leaf paper would be better for putting in my handbag and it won't get lost as much but I can't get used to that way of journalling. Does anyone here use looseleaf and if so how do you find it and manage with it?

Also how do you keep your journals private? I lock my old ones away but my current one is always with me. I fully believe in writing what I feel, otherwise what is the point of writing, but I still fear it being seen by others. Any ideas anyone? Some years ago I threw away ten years worth of journals in a panic, even though I had no proof anyone had seen them and now I regret it very much.

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I used to keep pen-and-paper journals, actually for years, but I had a bad experience which traumatized me :) and I ended up changing my ways. My husband was away on a business trip and I had an allergic reaction to a medication which resulted in paramedics coming to haul me away. My father-in-law, with whom I have a horrible relationship, was called and the foul individual READ my journal which was on the bedside table. Not skimmed, read and then taunted me with it for years. After that I stopped journaling for a while but eventually started using a program (Mac Journal) on my laptop which I can password protect. I don't like it as much as writing in a beautiful notebook but I just can't bring myself to write freely on paper anymore. I do keep a very nice 10-year journal with space for a short daily entry, which I bought from Lee Valley Tools. It is meant to be a garden journal but I use it for short daily observations. Anything else goes on the computer.

I understand how you feel,

I understand how you feel, in fact, your description brings back my own unfortunate memories of paper!

Previously discussed here...


Note my post there and others. Sorry about your experience. I assume anything I hand-write will be read by others. Password protecting via computer ensures near total security. That's how I journal now.

Journal privacy and security

One reason I prefer using paper to online e-Journals
- someONE can get into your paper journal and read it
- many people across the planet can potentially get into your online e-Journal and read it, for the years or even decades that the journalling site's servers are operating. While an e-Journal on a computer is safe if you never use the computer to go online, otherwise it's open to ~potential~ reading.

As to security when travelling, why not get one of those small old-fashioned briefcase style satchels with a keylock and a shoulder strap? It would at least give you peace of mind that your journal is locked


I agree about the online journal concerns, but what I'm using is on my computer only. It's not on the internet at all. Yes, someone could conceivably get into it on my laptop but I have security in multiple layers including the journaling program itself so I feel safer.

Too much forensic files

I like to keep a paper journal because I do feel, in most cases, it is more private since someone would actually need to break into my house to read it. Everyone I actually let into my house wouldn't read my journal, even if they could (my handwriting is _bad_).

Now, just to prove I'm crazy:
One reason I really like the idea of paper journals sitting around is in case something happens to me. On forensic files they read people journals for clues. Reading my stuff would prove, absolutely I believe, that I didn't do anything to myself (I love my life) and my husband is 100% innocent. If something bad happened to me, both these facts would be very important to me and trumps the embarrassment I probably wouldn't even feel at that point. Sigh, I've got to turn the TV off...

I'm sorry for those who's

I'm sorry for those who's privacy was violated. When I was in high school I journaled voraciously. I had 5 subject spiral notebooks filled with my thoughts and doodling. One day it was read by my friends. It was a major violation and I never got over it. I have over the years journaled off and on on paper. Always scared and hyper aware someone would read it.

My ex actually read every thing I ever wrote and every piece of paper I ever had. Hmmm don't have to wonder about the ex part do ya. Unfortunately it just re-enforced that paranoia and fear. But I just can't completely get clear of that wonder sound of a pen on paper. The glide of ink across a blank sheet whispering to me to spill my guts to it.

I bought a book on Journaling for teens. Spirit Journaling or something like that. It's a wonderful book so far. I am now alternating writing on paper and that on my computer at Live Journal. Somethings I don't mind if others read some don't.

I'm using the book to help me work through my paranoia. The truth is that what I write is true and real at that moment. And that's what it is. It's a picture taken in words. So if it's something highly personal and I don't want others to read I'll put it online or I'll lock it up in a keyed document box. And if not it's can be out in the open.

Lost in the land of disorganization

Nothing Is "Safe" Online

Unfortunate as it may be, absolutely nothing is safe online. The right guess, hacker, or competent private investigator can find anything you have on the internet. I know this because it happened to me done by my ex's ex. I had a passcode-locked online diary that was completely anonymous, no name/location/number or any other personal information attached, all under a secret alias, and it was found and broken into. E-mail was hacked as well. My computer wasn't hacked, but I know of people who had had theirs hacked and it is scary how no alias or passcode can completely protect electronic property.

Currently, I jot down entries in a small notebook and then transfer and elaborate them in my real, beautiful paper diary when I get home. Whenever I travel, I lock up my diary in a safe deposit box at the bank, which no one knows I have anyway. That is the safest way I can think of. You can also lock up your external hard drive if you keep your computer journal on it.

Good luck!

Absolutely !

I know a few deluded individuals that believe that "safe online" is not an oxymoron.
For a computer journal, the only way to be certain would be never to connect that machine to a network of any sort, but then that would be a machine of very limited usefullness. Paper journal in a safe deposit box sounds much easier and confident.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Encrypt it and stop the spies

For a computer journal, the only way to be certain would be never to connect that machine to a network of any sort, ...

It is possible to get some security and protection for a journal saved on a computer --- encrypt it. I don't mean something trivial like a Ceaser Cipher but real encryption from products like PGP (originally written by ZImmerman) or Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG). Anything I want secured I encrypt using PGP/GPG's "military grade encryption" setting. This is better than the encryption used by online stores and banks.

Versions of PGP and GPG can be had for most systems, I use Linux and Mac OS myself. There is a Windows version too. At least between my Linux and Mac OS X systems the key rings can be shared.

Slows them, but does not stop them

A sufficiently determined intruder could decrypt anything eventually.
I have no delusions of "secure online" and simply keep what I want private offline.

On a semi-related note, have you read "Digital Fortress" by Dan (DaVinci Code) Brown ? Excellent read.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

If you're the NSA

A sufficiently determined intruder could decrypt anything eventually.

With PGP/GPG in military-mode the only determined intruder who could decrypt the text would be the NSA.

I haven't read Digital Fortress only the Da Vinci Code --- he must have been on creative writing course full of tricks but nothing substantial --- it put me off reading anything else.

Paper with you


If you like to keep a paper journal with you, but you're worried about privacy concerns, you should use some sort of looseleaf, ringbound, or discbound system. That way you can have a book full of blank pages for the road, and each night when you come home you can move the filled pages to your 'master' book that always stays home, in your locked box or whatever.

If you prefer the binding to be permanent, you could probably have that done once a year--but you'd have to take all the pages to a place that can do that (or else buy your own system). It seems like a 3-ring system would be better if you want to do this, since the left edge of the paper stays uncut. A disc-bound system would interrupt that edge with a lot of smurf holes and you might have to trim the paper up before binding, which would be a drag.