Tristine Rainer, Wisdom, Wit, and Warmth

Author, Teacher, Lecturer

Find Tristine on the Web

The New Diary, How to Use a Journal for Self-Guidance and Expanded Creativity

Goodreads review from Barbara Klaser:

I finished reading Tristine Rainer's The New Diary this morning. Great book! 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 here, even for those who've never considered, never thought they wanted, to keep a diary.

What makes this a great book on journaling is that it explores so 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.

Amazon review by E. Lamont
Format: Paperback

These days, the market is awash in pre-packaged journals and books about journal writing, yet Tristine Rainer's 1979 book is still the best on the subject.

Unlike most journal guides today, which are generally highly structured prompt books, offer little more than a series of possible (or, according to the program, mandatory) topics or systems, Rainer offers broad kinds of writing and invites the reader to be aware of them as they guide themselves. Her four broad modes of writing encompass everything from automatic writing to cathartic (one form of this is The Artist's Way's Morning Pages) to the most crafted and reflective journal essay. Her seven special techniques (lists, dialog, etc.) have been used in specialized ways in countless other journaling books. She addresses special topics such as writing honestly about sex or deliberately recognizing joy in your journal (long before the Simple Abundance journal), as well. Yet, every suggestion is presented undogmatically, as a possibility among many.

The important issue of privacy (for the journal and its writer) gets as detailed and thoughtful a treatment as I've ever read. Rainer emphasizes integration of all aspects of life into one journal, rather than separate specialty or overly programatic journal writing. Best of all, she opens up the possibility of using self-reflection and observation to direct rich journal writing, rather than prompt and gimmick dependency. The wonderful examples she quotes are the best proof of how fruitful self-directed journal writing can be.

I've read many, many of the journal writing books on the market, and I have yet to find one that offers as much to the would-be journal writer or does so with such inspiring simplicity and eloquence as Tristine Rainer's book.


Selected Works

Nonfiction
“Perceptive and readable from start to finish.”
Publisher’s Weekly
“For those willing to do the work, Rainer is an excellent guide.”
Publisher’s Weekly