how to write a private journal

Writing is a form of thinking. Jordan Peterson said this in reference to his writing program: Self Authoring. We did a full review of it you can read here.


When you write, you’re able to process thought and emotion in a clear, rational way.

For example: today you had a bad day. But you live in America, so your bad day is a vision of Utopia for someone living in poverty, in a third world country on a different continent.

You spilled your coffee on your pants. The coffee you waited in line for. The wait took ten minutes. You were late for work, and, everyone laughed at you when they saw the brown stain on your khaki pants; front-facing diarrhea. Mr. shits-himself before a presentation.

You didn’t get any coffee. You spilled it all. The coffee at work ran out because you were late. Now you’re tired and you smell like cheap, politically motivated intention coffee.

What a terrible day.

Later you come home, upset, with no motivation to work on your side project because the entire world is out to get you today. The entire world, out to get you. Mr. important, Mr. never left his hometown thinks people care enough to ruin you.

Everyone, even the Thai fishermen on their boats in Phuket, the Facebook employees in California, and the farmers in Nebraska, tending to their corn, watching football, eating mayonnaise are all out to ruin your day.

Or your perception is wrong.

Most people don’t know how to think.

private journal thinking

Thinking involves having a rational conversation with yourself, like a conversation you would have with your father, giving you advice, when you’re a sixteen-year-old man. It’s advice; not criticism. Or listening to the final advice of the greatest Samurai to ever live.

The way most people think is actually self-criticism or criticizing the world; using emotion instead of logic.

Thinking is the process of finding a solution to a conflict. Talking in your head about how worthless you are solves nothing.

Instead of criticizing yourself, become your number one advocate–a fan in the stands cheering you on.

Why Write?

Writing is a great way to think because you’re much more likely to take a rational stance rather than a self-destructive perspective because writing is more logical than letting your mind pelt you with negative thoughts you can’t control like hitting a beehive the size of a bowling ball with a stick and suffering from the stings.

It’s difficult to control your mind. It’s easy to control a pencil and use it to write out your thoughts and experiences.

Seeing your thoughts on paper helps you understand your experience in a rational matter instead of an emotional one.

An emotional perspective dominates when you’re thinking with your mind instead of paper because there’s nothing tangible for you to conceptualize.

Your mind can easily run out of control.

Paper and pencil are under your control. Completely. Then, after you write out your thoughts and feelings–like an emotional dump you take your baggage to–you’re empty, and now able to look at your experience without viewing it through a plastic-bag lens–emotion–that makes it difficult to see the truth of your circumstance.

Spilling your coffee, getting stuck in traffic, or being late to an important function are trivial matters.

a private journal

In the moment, drunk with emotion, small problems feel like Hydras. Every head you cut off, every time you get a moment of calm, another head grows forth from the peace like a never-ending virus. Journaling: a cognitively rich logical-thought train is Hercules’ solution to slaying the Hydra once and for all.

When Hercules cut the head off the Hydra two grew back. Until he burned the heads using a torch. Journaling your thoughts and emotions is cauterizing your weakness.

You don’t need to dwell on a bad day: dump it on the pages, understand it’s true identity–a pathetic insect and not a ferocious hydra–then get on with your life and accomplish something you’ll be proud of.

Journaling is a deeply intimate endeavor and often involves pouring your soul out onto pages that, if others saw, could be detrimental.

Below is a guide for journaling on your computer in a way that; doesn’t guarantee privacy, but helps.

Pen and paper journaling is always a good solution but isn’t the most accessible. And it isn’t wise to carry a journal of your pain, and secrets with you because you could lose it.

How to Journal on your computer.

great responsibility

Don’t journal using an online service or program. Companies who have programs for journaling or note-taking have access to the most intimate details of your life. Even using Evernote to journal is unwise. You don’t want any of your journaling to connect to the internet. Keep your pages offline.

Use a simple text editing software on your computer for your journaling. Do not use Microsoft Word.

Journaling isn’t about spelling correctly, using proper grammar, or constructing prose Hemingway would be proud of. Journaling is dumping emotion into a physical document so you can better analyze your thoughts without emotions floating in your mind.

Focus Writer

Our favorite text editor is FocusWriter. It’s like a basic Microsoft text file except you have more ways to customize your document. And FocusWriter has a nice typewriter sound function that gives you feedback while you type. Each key makes the click of a typewriter and every new line emits a pleasing, audible slide of a typewriter. If you don’t like the noise, you can turn it off. You can also customize the background of the writing space with an image. Pick an image you’re familiar with, something calm, that allows you to think clearly.

focus writer for journaling

Storing Your Journal – flash drives

Create a folder on your storage device for your logs and keep the files on your storage device drive.

Don’t save files to your computer and move them to your drive. Keep everything on your storage device.

An easy way to stay organized is naming each log the date and keeping them in a single folder on your storage device.

We recommend having a flash drive on your keychain to hold your information. The flash drive should be encrypted, with a password, so if you lose your keys, your entries are safe.

Flash Drives

The best Flash Drive for journaling is the Samsung Bar. The bar is waterproof, steel, and holds 32gb of storage.

If you’re journaling at home, mostly, buy an external hard drive. Keep it somewhere safe; like a safe. Again: You don’t want anyone to find your journal because if you’re journaling correctly, you’re giving your soul to your journal–like a bank–for all of your problems & worries.

If you’re using a flash drive to journal, another strategy you can implement for better privacy is transferring your journal logs.

Open a text file using focus writer inside of your Flash Drive–drive. Write your log. Save it on your drive.

When you get home, transfer the files to your external hard drive. Clear your flash drive completely. Then put your External hard drive in your safe.

Now, if anyone finds your flash drive there’s nothing on it that can be used against you.

Feel free to add other files to your flash drive. But, be careful if you keep other sensitive information on your flash drive. It’s a better idea to keep the sensitive data on your external hard drive.

External Hard Drive recommendations

Safe recommendations

Depending on your social status: it may be a good idea to get two external hard drives and keep one–as a backup– in another location; like a safety deposit box at the bank.

Technology isn’t immune to errors and production lines don’t make perfect products with 100% consistency. A backup is never a bad idea.

Up to you.


Journaling is a method to think without the cloudy haze of emotions. Instead of seeing through your emotions–thinking–writing allows you to think rationally.

Follow the methods above to journal on your device without nosy people reading your purest thoughts and intentions.

Alternatively, pen and paper can work but isn’t very accessible compared to technological solutions.


  1. Hi,
    I greatly appreciate your article because your method is exactly the one that I reasoned out while talking with a friend last night. I came upon him reading his old large book style journals…discussed with him why I prefer to type, and my worries about privacy, etc. Then eureka! I mentioned what if I used my laptop but saved my precious private thoughts to a thumb drive, backed up to an external hard drive, and stored them in a safe with a back-up in another location…I figured if this was possible, that there must be someone who discovered at least part of this journal-istic wheel before me…then the first search I type in lands me on your wonderful article! The reason I’m writing you is the one thing I hadn’t considered is what text writer to use, as I use a Mac…is text edit safe?

    Do you have any suggestions other than “note” “text edit” program in the Mac?


    • Hi David,

      Thanks for finding us and commenting. The method we recommend, is disconnecting from internet completely, first. Then, use the program focus writer–it’s like a text pad except with more customizable options including typewriter noises, and store your entries in a thumb drive and on an additional backup like a external hard drive; just as you mentioned.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here