Hiding Secrets in Your Journal

For years, when I wrote morning pages, I sat, wrote, and shredded them. They were too dismal and painful for anything else. Then I began to keep them and read them every now and then. To my relief, I was getting less angry, bitter, disappointed. I was, in fact, showing gratitude. Amazing. And then again, my writing began to improve. Reason to keep writing.

Occasionally, I do morning pages in a journal. Sometimes it’s because I’m brave and think I want to remember that specific morning, at other times, I have an insight I want to keep for further development.

My goal is to keep my writing unedited, just as it comes out. After trying out some Sakura pens, I discovered the clear gel pen in the Gelly Roll Glaze series was perfect for writing morning pages with. You can’t see what you are writing. Not looking at my writing made me write more boldly, effortlessly, and soulfully.

When it was dry, I could see the writing if I tilted the page. To obliterate it, I painted gesso over it. Great texture, and the words were no longer visible.

Then I tried gel medium in semi-gloss. This is an experiment worth working on–I’m going to try tinting the gel medium, or letting it dry, then glazing it. Some of the words are semi-visible. (Sorry, the photos didn’t turn out. I need direct sunlight.)

Journal page, written on in clear pen, washed with watercolor.

Then I decided to cover the whole writing with a watercolor wash. Doing that, I discovered meaning in the word “resist.” The clear gel pen acted as a resist, drying up through the watercolor wash, allowing me to read what I had written. (The page is more clear than above, I deliberately made some of it unreadable–TMI.)

I resist what I need to know, resist claiming what I need to claim, even resist showing up in the world the way I want to. And the pen showed that. No matter what you wash over yourself, you always show up as yourself.

Dive into your own morning pages–clear pen or not. You will find ideas you resist and ideas that you can wash over.

Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler whose book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art contains a whole chapter on hiding your secrets.


11 thoughts on “Hiding Secrets in Your Journal

  1. abs awesome Quinn, perfect for me, especially the resist part……………. a great metaphor, i need to do less resistance in my life and allow others to flow thru…….some to cover up, but RESIST in art is a great word……… love it….anna

  2. I love the way that looks, Quinn, the words coming up through the watercolor. It’s like a metaphor for submerging your conscious mind (words) in your unconscious (water). Very beautiful.

  3. Awesome. I use the glaze pens a lot, even the clear one and never thought to use it like this. I will be doing some experimenting today I think. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. This might not be relevant but this is what the title suggested to me. I get this question pretty often! If you do writing on a computer and want to keep it private, here are some alternatives:
    – store your files in a ZIP archive that’s password-protected.
    – on OS X, store your files in a password-protected disk image (use Disk Utility to make a disk image).
    – work in Acrobat and password-protect the file
    – there are free file encryption utilities available at repositories like tucows.com

  5. I’ve never have any need to throw away or cover up my own writing, no matter how bad or boring or painful it is. But I do like the techniques you’re showing here. I’ve always wondered about that white glaze pen, and this is a cool way to use it for a visual effect.

    • Many of the people in my classes are unsure of their thoughts. And occasionally, I show work to classes that has pages that are too personal to show others. Oh, a necessary correction: it wasn’t a white pen, it was a clear pen. Very interesting to write with.

  6. “no matter what you wash over yourself, you always show up as yourself”

    That’s beautiful, Quinn.

    It’s funny and strange the games we play with ourselves, let alone the world, to hide what’s REALLY going on. I’m taking on board, today, a challenge not only to write unedited in my journal, but to BE in the world unedited.

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