A Voice of Her Own: Women and the Journal-Writing Journal by Marlene A. Schiwy

Book Review by Ruth Folit

A Voice of Her Own: Women and the Journal-Writing Journey by Marlene A. Schiwy is a readable, yet profound book about the journal writing process for women.  I can’t think of a better book targeted to the thinking woman who is looking for inspiration about her inner journey through the writing process. It’s a perfect book for those interested in serious journal writing-whether a novice or a veteran.

Schiwy describes the journal writing habit: “Journal writing is a process of vital reflection that plunges you below the surface of your life to its psychic roots.  When you are writing at deeper level, your life itself changes.  Then your life’s journey and the journal writing journey interweave, enriching and intensifying each other.”  And “The only thing that really counts on this journey is your willingness to cast a candid and probing eye on your own life, with the intent of going below the surface in order to contact the rich, mysterious, troubling, and always fertile subterranean layers.  That is where your life energy simmers.”

The first chapters explore the relationship between women’s lives and voices, and the journal writing process.  The next section focuses on several broad themes of journal writing: writing below the surface, journal writing as healing, reinventing oneself, dreams and other exceptional experiences, writing as part of the creative process, and more. The third section is about reading journals–those that have been published and those that people share in workshops. The appendix offers practical writing topics or questions associated with several chapters of the book, and an extensive bibliography includes hundreds of books about journal writing, creativity, feminism, published journals, and other related topics.