LifeJournal™ Newsletter – July 2010

(two days after) July, 2010
 LifeJournal Newsletter
Please forgive me: This month was so jam-packed with wonderful stuff in the LifeJournal and International Association for Journal worlds that I missed my own deadline by two days! Before we get to the main event–the newsletter article– first a few announcements about online classes and the monthly IAJW telechat.

Whether you are a new or veteran journal writer, taking a class (re)kindles your love and depth of journaling.  One student in The Great Journal Experience class recently commented: “I can feel myself growing with each journal entry.” 

And here’s a response from another student after a weekly assignment:
“My journal is helping me to see and understand me.  It strengthens me.  …itmakes my journal writings much more interesting and valuable.  Wow. “

These online classes have enormous value that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Sheila Bender knows exactly how to bring out the best in your writing. Best-selling author Mark Matousek specializes in helping students discover their inherent writer’s voice and viewing writing as a form of spiritual practice. To learn more about details (dates, content,flexible schedule, and cost) and to enroll, please click on the links below. Don’t delay…these classes can fill up quickly!

The next IAJW telechat is with long time journaling author and instructor Joyce Chapman. The title of her talk is:
Notice and Journal: Two Powerful Concepts To Wake You Up Thursday, August 19th 8 PM Eastern; 5 PM Pacific

Is it time to embrace the habit of paying close attention to all your life experiences as opportunities to grow and change? Would you like to learn techniques to improve your life through intense noticing, and get to the learning by journaling about it? Join Joyce Chapman and me in a live IAJW members-only telechat as we discover how “Noticing and Journaling” can truly change lives. IAJW members, sign up now!  (Not yet an IAJW member, join now!)

The month’s newsletter article is a review of the book, Writing Away Your Demons, by Sherry Reiter.  This is a powerful book demonstrating how profound journal writing can be in navigating through very difficult life scenarios.

I hope you having some fun with friends and family and journaling about the good stuff, as well as the “heavy” stuff. I just got back from a two day mini-vacation with my daughter. Our goal was finding her a wedding dress.  The first dress she tried on was the one we both loved and we ended up buying it.  What a pleasure when life is easier than expected! Our two days together are certainly worthy of preserving in a journal entry–one which I’ll love re-reading (and perhaps sending to my daughter) 25 years from now. Don’t you think?

Ruth Folit

A Review of the Book Writing Away Your Demons: Stories of Creative Coping Through Transformative Writing by Sherry Reiter, PhD
by Ruth Folit

In her book Writing Away Your Demons, psychologist and social worker Sherry Reiter explores how people are able to use writing to work through some very difficult psychological situations. Sherry Reiter strongly believes in the power of writing to transform the pain, hurt and damage to the self that many of us have lived through.

Reiter asserts:

“Your writing is your own truth as you are experience it at the moment.  Even if you do not understand what you are feeling at the time, when you read and re-read your own writing, you are most likely to ‘crack the code,’ and discover new meaning.  Those little black squiggles on the paper have an extraordinary ability to bring in to a new level of self-knowledge and awareness.”
Reiter posits ten important healing principles to apply in creative “righting”/writing (as Reiter calls it).  I’ve condensed each of these guiding tenets into a sentence or two each, but in her book Reiter explains in greater detail.






  1. Mastery includes the use of words to identify, articulate, and organize the writer’s feelings and thoughts, which empower the writer.  By writing, those in tremendously painful situations can express, externalize, and begin to tame the wild demons within their journal entries.
  2. Ritual is a doorway to change. Writing itself is a ritual; beginning your journaling with a ritual increase the power of writing.
  3. Safety is crucial to write for oneself authentically, without judgment and with permission to be not perfect.
  4. Witnessing provides a true testament to your life experiences—whatever they may be.
  5. Freedom/poetic license includes the freedom to see, hear, write what you feel and what you think without the “shoulds” of others.
  6. Venting and containment allows your writing to express and release emotions, and simultaneously contain them and preserve them for future re-readings. Your journal contains a readable trail of the entire transformation.
  7. Transformation of Time, Space, and Matter often occurs when writing.  Time expands or contracts, as your writing moves to the past or future, or stretches the present moment.
  8. The Magic of the Poetic is found in similes, metaphors and images, which speak to the emotional mind, transforming the unconscious into awareness and self-knowledge. Writing taps into this powerful and magical energy.
  9. Creativity allows us to re-create ourselves as needed, adjusting to new situations and renewing ourselves.
  10. Integrating Parts into Whole is the key element of journal writing.  In individual entries you write about the bits and pieces of your life. By re-reading and interpreting you can see the big picture and make meaning, solve problems, extract life lessons, and gain a greater understanding of your and your life.  Armed with this information you can more consciously redirect and change your life for the better.






Reiter follows the fuller explanation of these principles with more than a dozen stories of individuals—using journal entries and poems written by people who have had traumatic experiences.  One was a soldier in war; others had grown up in families with physically or emotionally abusive parents; others lived with life-threatening diseases; one elderly woman reviewed her life, now estranged from her family members. Each person’s story is told through their journal writings and poems, followed by commentary by Reiter about the journaling and transformational process. Amazingly, you’ll find that each story’s author has gained insights, found some resolution, and enjoy a sense of peace from the writing and therapeutic experience.

For therapists this book is instructive reading.  For journal writers sifting through their own archeological layers of memories and images and experiences this is exciting and inspiring reading. For aspiring journal writers who haven’t yet begun the writing journey, this is a book filled with astonishing examples of the power of reflective writing.

End Quotes:

“There’s always a sheet of paper. There’s always a pen. There’s always a way out.”—H.L. Mencken

“The process of writing is about creating an intimate relationship—with one’s self.”—Sherry Reiter, PhD

“There is an applause superior to that of the multitudes: one’s own.”—Elizabeth Elton Smith