Burn After Writing Review

The self-reflection journal perfect for teenagers


Photo by Zoe Watts

A self-reflection journal titled, ‘Burn After Writing’ (BAW) has gained popularity since it was published in 2015. Nationally acclaimed, this book has been able to change people’s lives. 

In the beginning pages, the author, Sharon Jones, explains what exactly her book is. She also includes a place for the reader to sign their allegiance to the Cult of BAW. The foreword revolves around a main theme of truth. 

In the journal’s introduction, Jones said, “What is Burn After Writing? It is your black dossier. Hidden in the secret compartment of your world. For your eyes only. The place where you speak your own truth freely, beyond any concern for how it might be viewed by others. The only space in your life where you can take off all the masks.”

The journal is broken into three distinct parts; the past, the present, and the future. 

The past section begins with the quote, “You can’t look at something without changing it; you can’t look at yourself without changing.”

The section contains questions about early memories, first loves, and accomplishments. Jones explains that acknowledging the truth about the past can reveal things about yourself you might have never realized before. 

Jones introduces the present section by saying, “This is the same moment in which all of history occurred. Everything is contained within it. Nothing lies without. Everybody wants you to live in the moment. Primarily because it is easier to sell things to a goldfish with ADHD. But where are you actually right now? To answer that you have to step outside of the present moment into a space of reflection.”

Everything about the present part is about right now. What your world is like at that moment or that day. 

The last part of the book is centered on the future. It begins by saying, “Predicting your future requires an element of self-delusion. The difficulty is that sometimes we can make something happen as we intend to and sometimes we cannot. And even when the intention is clear, the consequences must always be largely unforeseen. Fortunately, our intention is rarely very clear.”

The purpose of the last part is to see how the person you are sees the person you one day want to become. The best-case scenario with your dream job and what problems you might encounter on the way there. 

While her book is intended for adults, it is just as applicable to teenagers. From checking off a bucket list to revealing your deepest secrets, BAW provides questions any age group can answer.