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We know we are going to get in serious trouble for even suggesting that journals qualify as CRUD. If you have de-cluttered as many homes as we have then you would know why we include these iconic digests of personal misery in the category. When we were growing up the practice was referred to as “keeping a diary”. No doubt there are many fine authors who, as children, honed their skills compulsively scribbling away in those little lockable private books. In your formative years as diarist, perhaps your diary served as the repository for confidences meant for your eyes only: junior high crushes; fantasizing about a disfiguring accident befalling a competitor for a spot on the JV cheer-leading squad; anxiety over math tests or acne: or the sheer dread being seen anywhere in public with your parents. Life in one’s early teens is an emotional minefield. Is there a benefit to reliving the humiliation in print a few more stable decades later?
Puzzlingly, journaling persists in a world dominated by the tyranny of social media. With virtually no barriers to entry, blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms serve up an audience of countless millions for sharing one’s musings. With the potential for power and fame available at one’s fingertips, what explains the attraction of unburdening to a lined paper volume with a probable readership of one?
We understand that many people derive immense satisfaction recording the minutia of daily life in journals and, but at what price? How much space in your home are you willing to squander in order to accommodate so much of the past? Our clients insist that they will go back and re-read the entries, when they have the time. Somehow, that day never arrives. It is often journals that are contained in the boxes that remain unopened from previous moves.
It may not be now, but some day you may want to downsize from your current living quarters to something smaller and more manageable. When you get to that point there will be drastic possession reductions required for a successful transition. You will have to make hundreds if not thousands of decisions regarding everything you own. The merits of keeping journals must we weighed against the importance of your other treasured things.
If a small bonfire is not a suitable option, here are some suggestions for how to deal with your journal collection. The first is to stop buying them. Inoculate yourself by staying out of the kind of store that specializes in incredibly beautiful high-end stationery and paper goods, so you won’t be tempted. Check through your current inventory. You may be surprised to find that you have brand new journals that you bought and put away without writing a single word. They can be donated. Re-purpose a small journal to keep in your purse to help you remember to do things, like calling people and making shopping lists. That covers the blank ones. You may be wondering about the box full of journals that contain your writings. What you decide to do is dependent upon your comfort level with the content. Do you want a future biographer to have access to your pet peeves? Shredding may prove prudent.