The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)

Treat yourself to a new journal...that's devoted entirely to sex.


OK, so I've got a question. How many of y'all journal on a regular basis? At first, I was going to ask how many of y'all own a journal, but if you're anything like me, you've probably got three or four of 'em collecting dust somewhere in your house. For me, I think that my relationship with journaling is a lot like my relationship is with reading—I write and research so much that I don't make as much time for either as I should. That doesn't mean that I don't know that both are extremely important practices, though.

Since we're specifically talking about sex journaling today, let's explore a few reasons why journaling, in general, is such a good thing to do. Journaling helps to increase your emotional intelligence. Journaling reduces stress. Journal provides clarity. Journaling gives your innermost emotions and thoughts a voice, platform and safe space. Journaling can help you to reach your goals. Journaling can also improve your memory and vocabulary while strengthening your self-discipline in the process. Journaling can do all of that? Yep. So, apply all of these points to your sex life and imagine what sex journaling is capable of.

No matter how you feel about your sex life at the moment, I'm going to encourage you to hop on Amazon, Etsy or go to a local bookstore to pick up a fresh new journal. Devote it only to your sex life and write in it at least a couple of times a week. Aside from all of the reasons that I just provided, there are some benefits that come with sex journaling that can make how you see—and perform—sex better than ever before. Benefits like what?

Sex Journaling Is a Great Way to Remember THE FACTS About Your Sex Life


Recently, I checked out an article on exaggeration. According to the piece, although virtually all of us do it, there are three types of exaggerating that can make life, as the article puts it, "unnecessarily dramatic"—there's overgeneralizing, there's catastrophizing (which is basically making something bigger in our minds than it actually is), and there's making snap judgments and jumping to conclusions. As I thought about the times when I've exaggerated in these ways before, I also thought about how exaggerating could be applied to my sex life. There are the guys who I thought were the absolute bomb, mostly because I had a tendency to only replay one or two times in my mind rather than our entire sexuationship. There are moments that caused me to struggle with my self-worth because I only focused on the things that I did "wrong" or average instead of taking the entire experience into account.

That's why, although some people who are close to me cringe whenever I pen an article like, "Each Of My 14 Sex Partners Taught Me Something New" (mostly because they feel like it's TMI 2.0), to me, it's like getting paid to journal. The reason why I feel that way is because writing it all out helps me to not just reflect on my feelings about my sex life, but to also put things into proper perspective as it relates to various situations and facts. When I do that, I am able to get clarity on what I did, what I would do now and what I would never do again.

Sex Journaling Can Help You to Pinpoint What Works—and What Doesn’t


Another cool thing that comes from sex journaling is it can help you to get a clear grasp of what works for you and what doesn't when it comes to the act overall, the kind of partners that you choose and various techniques and positions that you like and dislike. For instance, one of the couples that I used to work with, the wife was always talking about how her husband didn't please her like some of her past partners had. But whenever I would ask her to explain, she would look at me like, "What do you mean? Didn't I just tell you enough?" Actually, you didn't. Was it that you were more attracted to your past partners? Was the foreplay more pleasurable for you? Are there certain positions that you preferred that you're not experiencing now? How did you feel about your body at the time? What do you wish your partner would do more of and less of? If you're not having enough orgasms, are you faking them? What did your exes do that your partner isn't?

When you're out here generalizing your sex life, it's hard to come up with a plan for how to improve it. By asking yourself questions like the ones that I just mentioned and then writing the answers down, that can help you to better strategize what you want your sex life to be like; it can reveal what works and what doesn't in a very real and documented kind of way. It can give you a reference point that you can always go back to when needed.

Sex Journaling Is an Awesome Way to Mentally Stimulate You and Your Partner


Did you know that another benefit that comes from journaling is it can help you to get a better night's rest? If you and your partner make it a point to write down some of your favorite memories and experiences with one another, man—talk about the ultimate kind of bedtime story. Sex journaling can be a wonderful form of foreplay too because, if you both commit to reading some of your entries out loud to one another, that can bring your minds back to times that you want to repeat; hopefully as soon as possible.

While we're on this particular point, who said that this only has to happen when you're in bed with one another. Transcribe an entry and then shoot it in email or a part of it in a text while your partner is at work or out of town. Reading (or re-reading) the moments that both of you have enjoyed together can truly be the ultimate kind of aphrodisiac. Straight up.

Sex Journaling Can Serve As a Place of Revelation and Healing


Since every 73 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted, there is a huge chance that you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, assault or some sort of sex-related trauma. Keeping that in mind, it's not uncommon that when a counselor or therapist is dealing with a client who has been affected by something sexually traumatic that they will recommend they journal about it. Journaling has a way of helping you to confront what you've been through, to process it and to address it in a kind of open and uncensored way that you might not feel comfortable doing any other way. Journaling is able to give your pain a voice while validating your feelings about it at the same time.

With all of the stuff that I've been through, sometimes even I'm amazed that I haven't lost my mind. But when I'm able to look back on things I've written like "If You Have To Wonder If It Was Rape, It Was", I am able to see where I was vs. where I am. I am also able to establish the kind of boundaries that I need to set, moving forward and, more than anything, heal because, thanks to writing about the things that I've been through, my pain has not been silenced. Or ignored.

Sex Journaling Can Help You to Set Future Sex-Related Goals


Some of the happiest people on the planet are the ones who are constantly setting bars and reaching them, only to set more. That said, another benefit that can come from sex journaling is jotting down the kind of short-term and long-term sex-related goals that you want to achieve. Do you want to have more orgasms? Do you want to make more fantasies come true? Maybe you'd like to take a tour of some of the sexiest hotels that are in the country or even the world. Perhaps you want to try new sexual positions or to take greater sexual risks. Or, maybe the goal has to do with breaking some toxic patterns that have resulted in you being dissatisfied, both emotionally as well as sexually.

There is plenty of evidence to support that when we write down our goals, it is able to give us clarity and motivate us to take action. There are even studies to support the fact that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals (and your dreams) if you decide to write them down. And just think—the more things that you are able to achieve, the more confidence you'll have, and the more open you'll be to add other goals to your list in the future. Sex-themed goals included.

If I've inspired you, at least a little bit, then you might wonder how much time you should devote to sex journaling in order to get the results that you want. Pulling out your journal and a pen and writing about 15-20 minutes a couple of times a week should just about do it. Just make sure that it's when the atmosphere is quiet and when the space that you're in puts you in a sensual frame of mind. Oh, and make sure to date your entries and to replace your journals every year. Fresh year. Fresh sex perspective. Fresh sex journal. In that order.

There's no time like the present to become a healthy and happier sexual being. One of the most effective ways to do it is by committing to doing a little sex journaling. Make the time. You—and your sex life—won't regret it.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

What Happened When I Challenged Myself To Journal More For Two Weeks

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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