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Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits


Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits Cover

ISBN13: 9780061494154
ISBN10: 0061494151
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Keeping a journal is easy. Keeping a life-altering, soul-enlightening journal, however, is not. At its best, journaling can be among the most transformative of experiences, but you can only get there by learning how to express yourself fully and openly. Enter Samara O'Shea.

O'Shea charmed readers with her elegant and witty For the Love of Letters, Now, in Note to Self, she's back to guide us through the fun, effective, and revelatory process of journaling. Along the way, selections from O'Shea's own journals demonstrate what a journal should be: a tool to access inner strengths, uncover unknown passions, face uncertain realities, and get to the center of self. To help create an effective journal, O'Shea provides multiple suggestions and exercises, including:

  • Write in a stream of consciousness: Forget everything you ever learned about writing and just write. Let it all out: the good, bad, mad, angry, boring, and ugly.
  • Ask yourself questions: What do I want to change about myself? What would I never change about myself?
  • Copy quotes: Other people's words can help you figure out where you are in life, or where you'd like to be.
  • It takes time: Don't lose faith if you don't immediately feel better after writing in your journal. Think of each entry as part of a collection that will eventually reveal its meaning to you.
O'Shea's own journal entries reveal alternately moving, edgy, and hilarious stories from throughout her life, as she hits the party scene in New York, poses naked as an aspiring model, stands by as her boyfriend discovers an infidelity by (you guessed it) reading her journal, and more. There are also fascinating journal entries of notoriousdiarists, such as John Wilkes Booth, Anais Nin, and Sylvia Plath.

A tribute to the healing and reflective power of the written word, Note to Self demonstrates that sometimes being completely honest with yourself is the most dangerous and rewarding pursuit of all.


About the Author

Samara O'Shea is the founder and editor of, a letter-writing service, and the author of For the Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing. Her writing has appeared in Woman's Day Specials, Country Living, All You, and Pittsburgh Magazine. A Manhattan transplant, she lives outside Philadelphia.

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Glenn Dietz, February 18, 2009 (view all comments by Glenn Dietz)
Note to Self provides an enthusiastic endorsement of the power of keeping a journal to understanding/discovering one's true self. The encouragement is intertwined with low-key how-to suggestions that are secondary to the message of Just Write Something (my words). Samara gives personal (really personal) details from her own journal that show how she has recorded life events and thoughts and what they have meant to her personal growth. Each chapter ends with context from historic journals.

I definitely enjoyed this book and took away ideas and encouragement even though I doubt a 44-year-old married father was the target audience. I purchased the book as a gift for my 13-year old daughter. Fortunately I got a hold of it first. I haven't decided yet whether she's mature enough for the Intimate Details chapter.
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Product Details

On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits
O'Shea, Samara
by Samara OShea
William Morrow
General Language Arts & Disciplines
Composition & Creative Writing - Academic
Diaries -- Authorship.
Diaries -- Authorship -- Psychological aspects.
Reference-Student Writing Guides
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
August 2008
Grade Level:
8 x 6 x 0.73 in 11.76 oz

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Related Subjects

Reference » Writing » General
Reference » Writing » Nonfiction

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