Day 11: 31 Days of Journal Writing

31 Days_2Day 11: What do I do if someone reads my journal without asking

 Once I attended a workshop on writing. There were many different speakers, some of them very well known. One of them, who at the time was not so well known, shared a story about someone close to them reading their personal journals. I’ll call them the writer and the snooper.

The snooper got angry. Really angry. The snooper called the writer to say that when they saw each other again, it wouldn’t be pretty. That the writer would have to answer for what was in those private pages.

This story belongs to the person I heard tell it. It is not my story to repeat.

The only reason I bring it up here to share at all is because it’s definitely one of the worst-case scenarios that can happen if someone else reads your private writing.

I cannot emphasize that enough. YOUR. PRIVATE. WRITING.

As I mentioned in day three of the 31 Days of Journal Writing, you can protect your journal with a love letter in the front. You can be as honest and open as possible in that letter and let any potential readers know that in this private space, you apologize for nothing.

You can remind that person that we all have dark and light and that a journal just might be a place for a lot of the dark. And if they choose to read it, they are taking the risk to see how you handle the dark.

The letter might stop a potential reader, and it may not. It may ignite a spark of respect for your privacy, or it may peak curiosity and tempt them to turn the page and keep reading.

And if they do, there is the possibility that something in it will make the reader mad.

Or sad. Or confused.

He or she may start to behave a little differently around you. He or she may ask you questions about things you’ve never talked about before and you might get a thought that this person has been snooping and has read in your journal.

That may or may not be true.

It may be that someone close to you reads your private writing and tries to help you in ways they never have before.

I can’t predict how a person in your life would react upon reading your journal.

But, I have an inkling that I might be able to predict how you will feel.

Angry. Pissed off. Betrayed. Outraged.

Maybe a little or maybe a lot.

You will feel these things because it is most statistically likely that if your private writing is ready by another person, it will be someone you know.

And you are more than likely vulnerable on the pages of your journal. Because it’s healthy and makes you feel better and ultimately can lead to a more productive life.

That doesn’t mean you want everyone to know about it.

Or even just one person.

I can’t tell you how to handle a specific person that might read your journal. But I can tell you three truths I hold about this topic. Because this is serious business. Another person choosing to invade your privacy is a big deal and you there are a few things that you can keep in mind if these things happen.

  1. You are not responsible for the reaction another person may have to your journal. Yes, it’s possible someone might read about a circumstance or event and feel angry or confused toward you, but they invited that experience into their lives for themselves when they chose to read your private writing. You did not ask them to read it. You have an opportunity to take the high road here. To let them know that what they did was not cool, and let them know it calmly. It will likely have more impact than you freaking out about it and screaming and yelling as you chase them down the street with a broom.
  2. You do not have to discuss with that person what they read in your journal. If you are confronted are confronted about your private writing, just a reminder that this is YOUR PRIVATE WRITING we are talking about here. If you are not in a place that you are willing to discuss, then politely decline. Again, you did not ask to engage in a conversation with that person about your private ideas and musings.
  3. You may feel a strong urge to burn. Don’t do it. The feeling that you have been invaded will eventually ease. You will someday stop looking at the work that has been read as if it’s less pure because it was consumed by another human being. It is still your work. The story I heard at the writing working shop ended with almost 20 years of personal journals up in flames. If you feel the urge for a bonfire my recommendation is that you get yourself a safe deposit box at the bank or a fireproof safe that you hide away somewhere and share the combination with no one. There will come a time when you want your writing. You will long for it as the proof of the life you’ve lived and evidence of how far you have come on your human journey.

 You can’t help it if another person reads your journal. You can do all the right things to protect it. Hide it. Keep it in your bag at all times. Only write it in when no one is around to see you writing so they don’t even know it exists. Never make reference to your diary or journal.

If someone finds it and he or she wants to read it, they will. Items get stolen everyday. Teenagers look through moms purse for money or keys and come across a journal and they open it up to see what’s inside. It could be anything.

A stranger could read your journal. Your husband could read your journal.

The best you can do is place boundaries around your journal or diary and respect those same boundaries for others.

And if it makes you feel better to slip your journal inside your pillowcase, go for it. Do whatever it takes for you to feel that you can be free in those pages.

Prompt for you: What would you do if you found someone’s journal?

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. Visit to get your FREE Journal Protection Plan and start using your journal to create more joy in your life.



  1. 31 Days of Journal Writing Challenge | 14th Oct 15

    […] Day 11: What do I do if someone reads my journal without asking? […]

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