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The New Diary: How to use a journal for self-guidance and expanded creativity

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The New Diary is about a completely modern concept of journal writing. It has little to do with the rigid daily calendar diary you may have kept as a child or the factual travelogue you wrote to recall the Grand Canyon. Instead, it is a tool for tapping the full power of your inner resources.

The New Diary is as much for those who already keep a journal as it is for those who have never kept one. It does not tell you the "right" way to keep a diary; rather, it offers numerous possibilities for using the diary to achieve your own purposes. It is a place for you to clarify goals, visualize the future, and focus your engergies; a means of freeing your intuition and imagination; a workbook for exploring your dreams, your past, and your present life.

It is for everyone seeking concrete methods for dealing with personal problems. It is for women and men interested in achieving self-reliance and inner liberation, for artists and writers seeking new techniques for overcoming blocks to creativity.

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1978

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About the author

Tristine Rainer

15 books51 followers
Tristine Rainer, Ph.D, is a pioneer in the fields of contemporary journal writing and narrative autobiography. Her book The New Diary, how to use a journal for self-guidance and expanded creativity has sold over 200,000 copies and has been used as a text in university Psychology and Occupational Therapy courses, although her degree was in English Lit. After a quarter of a century in print The New Diary will see a new, revised edition in 2004. Her book Your Life as Story, Writing the New Autobiography, published in 1997 hit the Los Angeles Times bestseller list and is presently being used as a text in many college writing programs.

Rainer is the founder and director of the Center for Autobiographic Studies, a non-profit educational organization that encourages the creation and preservation of autobiographic works. A founder of UCLA’s Women’s Studies Program, Rainer was also a grad student there. She taught personal writing for 25 years through the English Departments at UCLA and at Indiana University, with her friend and mentor Anaïs Nin for International College, through the UCLA Extension Writers program, and privately as a writer's coach to a diverse array of clients, many of whom have successfully published autobiographic books with her assistance. She is currently an adjunct professor within the Masters of Professional Writing Program at USC. http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/mpw
In a whole separate life, Rainer wrote and produced four award winning network movies for television based on true life stories. It was this experience of shaping stories in the trenches, she says, that gave her the key to how teach anyone to transform their own life experience into a compelling story.

Copyright 2005 Center for Autobiographic Studies

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5 stars
210 (40%)
4 stars
196 (37%)
3 stars
91 (17%)
2 stars
19 (3%)
1 star
6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews
59 reviews25 followers
December 22, 2008
This could arguably be the most important book in my life. I read it at 12 and started journaling seriously - a practice which continued for 20 or so years. Around 9/11 most of them were lost forever. It's something that I can't even think about without getting very upset.

Anyway - my 12 year old self thought this was a VERY important book, second only to Harriet the Spy! By the way. GO READ Harriet the Spy!
Profile Image for Barbara Klaser.
605 reviews14 followers
January 2, 2023
I finished reading Tristine Rainer's The New Diary this morning. Although it was published in 1978, it's every bit as fresh today, from the preface by Anais Nin to the final chapter on using a journal as a resource and tool to enhance creative work.

This is both a book for people new to keeping diaries or journals and an excellent resource for people who've been keeping them for decades. There's something for everyone, even for those who've never considered, never thought they wanted, to keep a diary.

What makes this such a good book on journaling is that it explores many ways of looking at the journal and looking at one's life from day to day, moment to moment, from using the four functions of sensing, feeling, thinking and intuiting to exploring various points of view, formats and even traveling through time. The main strength of the book is that it explores journaling or diary keeping as a process. It's the process that's important, not the product, though of course the product will be enhanced by all the methods and ways of thinking about the diary explored here, and the product will be more accessible and satisfying if one uses the advice about rereading given here.

If someone told me they were just about to start their first personal journal, I'd recommend two books, this one and Visual Journaling by Barbara Ganim and Susan Fox. Between them I think they cover everything you might possibly want to do with a diary, until you think of new things on your own. I wish I'd read both books when I started. I'm glad to have read them since.
Profile Image for Bakari.
Author 2 books43 followers
December 28, 2014
If you're serious about journal/diary writing, I highly suggest this one. The book doesn't provide lists of journal prompts, but rather provides various frameworks and ways of thinking about journal writing and how it can be useful. Rainer also includes journal entries by herself and other writers as examples of what she's explaining. The book is not preachy or filled with quotes and spiritual prompts. She show how journaling can help you process your current and past experiences, and deal with challenges in your life. She also includes a chapter on journaling and eroticism which is a subject often overlooked in many books on journaling.
Profile Image for Cindy Richard.
340 reviews8 followers
November 18, 2018
This book talks about the importance of journaling for all sorts of reasons and shared several techniques. I’ve been journaling for years, so it was helpful to examine new ways to refresh and deepen my practice.
Profile Image for Deborah Blair.
Author 1 book18 followers
April 2, 2014
This is one of the best books to support people in their process of keeping a journal. The well known journal keeper, Annais Nin,gives a good introduction - she and author, Tristine Rainer had some years of interaction.

I first started journaling when I was 12 years old. Having suffered from Selective Mutism, both from the extreme physical and emotional abuse from birth on, and from Asperger's Autism - I was fortunate to be in a gifted student program where I had a wonderful teacher who suggested that I could write my feelings, stories, dreams and thoughts down in journal form. She knew that I loved to read and I was greatly amazed to find that like the authors I had so admired, lived for, found comfort in - that I too could write. Maybe not as good - but this was a way that I could communicate.
1964 was a time long before the personal computer.

By the time that this book came on the market with Tristine Rainer - I had fifteen years of journalling under my belt. I had had the good fortune to study with Ira Progoff, Ph.D. - a friend of Carl Jung, M.D. - self labeled as an "Anti-psychologist psychologist" - author of, "At a Journal Workshop"" - - I loved to go on writing retreats with Ira and with other teachers that had studied with him. The atmosphere of being with up to 200 or more others, siting to write together - sharing if we chose - - was as important to me as the many weeks and months of intense formal meditation retreats and trainings that I was involved with.

Ms Rainer's book came in 1979 - it provided an enrichment process for lne journalists and for journal classes and small groups that were often meeting at that time and during the eighties and early nineties. This book is filled with eexercises that can add to and encourage the journal process. It helps with self healing, creative inspiration, working with your dreams, grief, sorting through current situations in one's life and life planning. Although I loved and still cherish the years of work with Progoff - -his method of compartmentalizing work into sections can be off putting and confusing. The New Diary has ideas and inner work exercises that can be done in an ongoing journal process that one does in ongoing journals with no need to compartmentalize.

Having journaled for fifty years - - taught it in groups and help clients use it in the psychotherapy - Jungian Analysis process - - The New Diary is, along with Progoff's harder book, At a Journal Workshop, and Jungian Anaylist, Robert Johnson's Inner Work - - one that I encourage all of my friends and students to keep on their reference shelf. It is one that can be gone to whenever one is stuck - or needs some inspiration.

It is sad that the real journaling process has been abandoned by many in this age of the internet - - and/or the blogging/Facebook process used instead - - - the private journal - especially hand written so that it goes from head and heart to paper - - can both be a form of meditative inner work - - a way to center and sort -- and a real tool for self awakening.
Profile Image for Ellyn.
8 reviews
January 12, 2012
I don't quite remember how or when I got this book — I think it was for sale in a horribly stuffy second-hand bookshop for a couple dollars — but it was very, very important to me when I was 13 or so.

If I'd have written this review back then, I would have given it five stars. Now, however... there are times when I'll pick it up and read a section, and depending on the section in question I might be inspired or irritated by it. The main problem I have with books of this sort, nowadays, (and why I keep reading them is a little beyond me, but I think there's a touch of self-indulging, narcissistic pleasure in there somewhere) is the amount of what I think of as being (and I understand this may sound a bit critical, and I know some people thrive on this stuff, but it's honestly how I feel) self-helpy spiritual woo they contain. This appealed to me when I was younger. Not so much anymore.

When I write in a journal, I like to write in it — I write a lot, I write on all kinds of topics, and at the end of the day I have neither the time nor the patience to bother with such exercises as getting-in-touch-with-Older-Self, or Younger-Self, or Dreaming-Self, or Wiser-Self, or what-have-you. In my own personal experience, such exercises irritate far, far more often than they ever bring "insight". In fact, I can't stand actually going into a journal entry holding in mind that I should complete this-or-that exercise in this entry; I simply do what I do, and it's fun.

Now, I understand that Rainer's message is that the diary is, in the end, whatever the hell you want it to be — and that's great! I agree with that entirely! If you want your diary to be filled with letters-to-self, or long-dead-friends, or dream-musings or single word entries or wildly chaotic scribbles or whatever your interest might be, wonderful! In that sense, her book is great, and I am entirely with her. However, I find little value in the rest of the book anymore.
Profile Image for Tara.
209 reviews1 follower
March 4, 2008
My favorite book on journaling. Can be delved into deeply or picked up at odd intervals. I used this text in a class for six months and can look back now and positively identify when I began making huge changes in my life -- it was after less than 2 months working in my journal every day. I've given many copies to friends.
57 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2023
Another great book that almost anyone could benefit from! This book inspired me to pick up journaling again. Rainer does a great job at illustrating the purpose and benefit a diary has in our lives. This book would be particularly good to use as a prompt when you are feeling stuck or unsure of how/what to write about. This book was left me feeling so inspired and motivated. It will foster any person’s creative spirit!
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,190 reviews1,076 followers
January 17, 2016
Very difficult to separate my views on the book from my views of the diary contents that are explored. The diaries are from the 60s and 70s. Women debate if they should choose a career or get married. One woman writes that her fear is she's such a poor housekeeper that she will never find a husband. Like, this was actually a thing? Men married you because of your ability to fucking cook and clean and mend? Like they were interviewing for a housekeeper? Because... wow. That's so screwed up. One woman imagines herself aged 40, and how she would feel if she'd spent her life in the "masculine" energy of creating a project and carrying it through.

"Jane," a novelist, diaries a conversation to get inside the heads of her characters, "a group of Aztec Indians in the period immediately following the Spanish conquest." (p. 296)

Jane: I need to understand you. I feel so far away.

Star-Jaguar: You should visualize us as we walk in file with the burdens on our backs. Watch our legs, our feet. Watch the ways we spread our toes out in the dirt, carefully avoiding the sharp stones. Watch us as we set our burdens down and prop them with the sticks. Watch the way we sit. Each of us sits differently.

Because there's nothing like imagining how "Star-Jaguar" and his fellow "Aztec Indians" sit instead of actually, you know, researching genocide. And maybe finding out the name of the actual groups of people who were annihilated.

So, yeah. This all interfered with my ability to compartmentalize the journaling techniques discussed. Basically Rainer suggests using the four Jungian techniques:

Catharsis (feeling)
Description (sensing)
Free-intuituive writing (intuiting)
Reflection (thinking)

and making lists.

So I didn't get a ton from the book in terms of journalling ideas and useful techniques.

I accidentally own two copies of this, and I'll be finding new homes for them. The book wasn't valuable enough to keep in my library, and I rate it a 2, for just ok.
Profile Image for Michael Armijo.
Author 2 books28 followers
November 2, 2010
I loved this book. I found it on sale for $5.00 at a local Santa Monica bookstore. It was on the sidewalk of a cart of 'on sale' books. Tristine Rainer, the author, really offers some great ideas for formulating new spice to ones diary or journal. It's so true that ideas can truly come from the stories we write in our diary. The every day happenings...and thoughts...and emotions...and lists that we write down are key to our memoirs.
I'd HIGHLY recommend reading this one in combination with the reading of another novel. It's quite INSPIRATIONAL! Now...finding this book is another story. With the amazon.com used books for sale vendors...you might get lucky. It's NECESSARY for every reader, writer (& especially for those who keep a diary or are planning to start a diary).
Profile Image for Nicole Perkins.
Author 3 books45 followers
August 11, 2019
I love keeping a journal; mine is a receptacle for everything from rants about a bad day, gushings about exceptional moments, story fits and starts, poetry (mine and others'), recipe lists, books to read, just about everything that can be committed to the page. Tristine Rainer's book explores the many uses of a journal as a tool for self-guidance and growth. All in all, a really useful, valuable guide book.
136 reviews1 follower
December 13, 2009
An excellent reference book for one who is discovering the healing aspects of keeping a diary. The four modes of diary expression: catharsis, description, free intuitive writing and reflection along with the seven special techniques described in the book gives much food for thought. Motivating and encouraging as well.
Profile Image for Lynne.
148 reviews
March 18, 2023
I love books with practical advice, and this one is exactly that. I am a big believer in journaling for a lot of reasons: gaining emotional distance when overwhelmed, laying out pros/cons to make (or reinforce) decisions, venting, holding myself accountable, etc. I am sure that I would have been in therapy long before I started (and had to stay in it for much longer) if I hadn’t had journaling as an outlet and tool.

That said, I’ve felt distant from my journal/diary for a year or so now, only turning to it to log my travels, write through a specific problem/decision, or process the odd tarot spread. I think The New Diary will be a great companion to aid me in exploring more ways to journal, as well as an inspiration to just get back to it. The idea of a separate “creative journal” held in a three-ring binder for creative projects also seems like a great way for me to catalog and organize thoughts for future zines.

I found this book incredibly easy to read; I just flew through the pages. The chapters were set up in a way that makes sense, with the earlier chapters giving insight into different types of diary writing and the latter chapters focusing on ways to use the diary. Really great.

The only drawback? There are moments of white people nonsense in this for sure, mostly when showing excerpts from other people’s diaries, or when the author talks about her Indian “guru-woman.” You can see when this was written, and the updated version I read didn’t address any of this.
Profile Image for R.C..
363 reviews7 followers
November 14, 2021
I read this book because it was mentioned in another book about journaling, and I can see why. The main thrust of the book was that journaling is a way to think to and about yourself and your life, to organize your thoughts, and/or to brainstorm or identify why you feel the way you feel, if any of this doesn't otherwise come naturally to you. With our more modern view of self-awareness and self-care, this idea (and the usefulness of doing this sort of self-work) is not as revolutionary now as it was 40 years ago.

The book itself is a comprehensive look at the different uses journaling can be put to, from simple recording of events to sparking creative ideas, to personal growth. It also gives various techniques that can be used in writing entries themselves, in re-reading entries, and in editing your diaries or using them as fodder for other creative projects. Some of these techniques seemed silly and artificial to me, but I did have to admit that I do a lot of these things in real life...I just don't write them down. The sheer heft of the book, though, gives it room to have a few dud ideas and still earn a permanent spot on the bookshelf. The many diary excerpts are also nice touches - though again, they feel very dated, given that they were likely written 40-50+ years ago and reflect the gender roles and concerns at the time.
Profile Image for Jeanna Cooper.
275 reviews8 followers
February 7, 2023
I was looking for a book that would help me regain the joy of journaling; I think this one will. I loved to journal when I was younger but when I went to college note taking and essay writing took over. I tried to start again as a newlywed but it suddenly seemed so histrionic. The book is filled with so many journaling techniques it's hard to remember them all. I particularly liked the method of imagining your inner wisdom (Mine looks very much like Alice Thomas Ellis and Madeleine l'engle) and then writing a dialogue him/her about your problems, worries etc. I also enjoyed the sections on: synchronicities (Juila Cameron writes about these a lot), dream work, naming your journal, and overviewing your journal. It does have a short "eroticism" section so the book may not be suitable for younger readers. Definitely a book I will refer to again.
Profile Image for Jobie.
222 reviews
September 6, 2018
Will definitely read this again.

This is great as self reflection as well as creative stimulation. Though there was no exercises there were plenty of ideas to expand the diary writing processes. It also takes excerpts from other diarists. It also was instructive as far as looking at what you might be weak in recording your own ideas, feelings and daily activities.
89 reviews1 follower
March 30, 2020
nacini pisanje
o emocijama katarza
free flow
desklripcija za srecu dobra
analiza dana
sedam tehnika
imaging i free motive
ja u trecem licu
neposlata pisma
navike koje mogu da preuzmem od ovoga jesu pisanje o svojim snovima
o problemima o sreci o projektima i idejama o pitanjima
jos cu se vracati ovoj knjizi
Profile Image for Tracy Cooper.
18 reviews1 follower
June 11, 2021
I read this in 1980-something and it was profound and useful then. I bought it for inspiration at least ten years ago, but it seemed a bit “meh”. It didn’t fizz. BUT in a recent de-clutter (that’s another story) I found that I had bought it again….so I guess I HAVE to read it…
176 reviews
January 16, 2023
This book wasn't quite what I was expecting but I completed it anyway. In all honesty, some pages and chapters I read carefully--taking notes for future reference and recall. In other cases, I merely skimmed the pages and slowed down only to read something of special interest.
Profile Image for Julia.
146 reviews1 follower
July 6, 2017
some good ideas in here, but mostly a lot of stuff I was already doing on my own.
Profile Image for Sue Hughes.
11 reviews4 followers
January 18, 2018
This book offers various amazing journal writing techniques for self exploration and self discovery.
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 1 book3 followers
October 8, 2018
For a writer of literary fiction who draw most of her material from her own life, this book has proven invaluable.
26 reviews
October 13, 2018
Profile Image for Sophia.
1 review
May 20, 2020
One of the best self-healing-and-discovery books I have ever read.
7 reviews
July 21, 2022
Great book for novice and expert diarist. While there's no best way to write diary, the author describes many devices which you can get ideas form, many of them will help you to know yourself more deeply and will help to improve yourself. The book also lists different kinds of diaries you can keep and improve yourself in different areas.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews

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