Have you ever thought about keeping a diary?
As a child, I wrote my diary for many years. At a certain moment, I considered the activity to be too childish for a mature person like me, so I stopped.
But in my late teens, I decided that I was mature enough to not care if it was childish or not, and decided to start again.
One of the best choices I could make.
So today, I am going to tell you a little about my experience and give you all the reasons why you should be keeping a diary too.
It improves your writing skills
The best way to learn how to write is writing
If you are considering writing as a career, you will find that as amazing as your ideas can be, as mesmerizing the plot you create in your mind can get, they will be of no use if you cannot properly write them down. And the only way to gain fluidity with words is to write constantly.
A diary is a good place to develop and foster that ability.
While you wait for inspiration to knock on your door, you can exercise your writing skills talking about your everyday life.
Describing your day, a situation you witnessed at work, or something you hear on the bus can be entertaining, and if you keep doing this long enough, you will also notice how you become sharper and more observant, both qualities that are highly desirable in a writer.
I have also found that most people live with the idea that writing must be done in certain formats to have literary value. A novel, a poem, a play are considered to be "serious writing", while more domestic writing, such as a journal or a letter is not.
This is not true.
Think of Anne Frank, or Maria Bashkirtseff , whose diaries are still read around the world, not only as a testimony of a certain time but as a work of literature.
What if your diary turns out to be the best book you could ever have written?
Maybe in some decades, people will be interested in knowing how persons in different parts of the world lived the coronavirus pandemic, and diaries written during this hard time will be warmly received.
Some authors even write their books as diaries to give the reader a more personal insight into their characters.
No doubt, diaries are still a valid form of expression.
It helps you to keep memories
I have always prided myself on my good memory, but as I grow up I notice how difficult it is to recall events.
It is easier to remember big things, but the meaningful little ones are sometimes lost.
That is why a diary is an ally.
If you write frequently, you will create a bank of memories, a physical place where all the moments of your life are safely guarded.
Not only can you remember a moment, or a person, but also how you felt at a certain time.
And reading that collection of moments will also bring small details of said events back to you.
If well used, your diary will become one of your treasures.
It is a good space to unfold your emotions
Being an introvert, I have always found it difficult to share my feelings and ideas with other people. Speaking about things is complicated, for I cannot express myself as clearly as I would wish in that way.
When I was a teen, especially, I went through a hard time. I did not have many things in common with people my age, so I often felt lonely and misunderstood. School was a real torture, for I was surrounded by people who did not understand or cared about me or my interests.
My diary became a powerful tool to fight negative emotions, and gave me a place of freedom to explore what was happening inside of me. At that moment, it was my best friend: I could tell the diary about my frustrations with school, comment on the books and movies I enjoyed, and ramble about my dreams and aspirations for the future without feeling ridiculous or judged. In the process, I learned some things about writing and a lot about myself.
This is what a diary should be: A tool for self-discovery.
The world moves so fast that we earn to ignore a lot of things about ourselves. Sometimes we are feeling so much, that it too difficult to make sense of it, and we end up pretending that we do not feel anything at all.
Humans are full of feeling. There is no shame in it.
Writing can help to understand your own emotions, to explain them, and therefore give you a healthier way to deal with the negative ones and to solve problems.
It tracks your progress as a person
How much can a person change in a year?
In three years? And in three months?
Some inside changes happen so gradually that we do not notice them, despite their significance.
A diary is a way to fight this natural obliviousness.
The changes can be seen in the way you write: The subjects you choose, the style of your prose, the thoughts you register, and your fluidity to express them.
You will be surprised!
For example, my writing during my teenage years is very different from my writing as a young adult.
I read two different persons, but both of them are me.
As a teen, I was sad, sometimes depressive, but also hilarious and exaggerated and full of hope.
I sound more mature and confident now, though hopelessly anxious, and perfectionistic. And increasingly sarcastic, I must say.
In two years, I will surely sound different. And how great it will be to be able to read it!
You can also track your progress in a more specific way: Making a to-do list for your life.
I write one every December. That way I establish my purposes for the year to come. And I never forget to make a revision of my objectives for the year that is past, to decide if I did a good job or not!
Find your way to make the most of it!
Some tips for beginners
Not sure where to start?
Beginnings can be tricky and it is not hard to become frustrated. Sometimes it becomes so frustrating that you want to give up.
Writing requires time, and that is precisely what we do not have nowadays.
So, what can we do?
The key is to find out how to face the challenge without interrupting or complicating your daily routine, and to make it an enjoyable habit that you want to maintain.
Here some little tips to get you started.
- Do not try to imitate the classic diary entry format that you know from books or movies. Your diary is yours, so you can use it as you see fit, and be as organized or chaotic in its structure as you wish.
- There are no unimportant or boring subjects, anything you want to write about is worth it: People, conversations, feelings, places, a quote from a book you love, the lyrics of a song you have been listening to lately. Stick your last cinema tickets or a card you received for your birthday on the page. Or get some pencils and draw! Let yourself put in the paper the world you see.
- Do not make an effort to sound formal or professional. You are not here to impress anyone. Style is something that develops with time, so the best you can do is write things as you feel them at the moment. After a while, you will start to discover the particularities of your own "voice".
- A paper diary in a beautiful notebook is delightful, but maybe not practical for you. If you are lacking in time (and space) keeping your diary in your cellphone or another technologic device can be the solution. That way you can write at work, or on the train.
- Do not feel pressured to write a lot every day, at least at the beginning. Set a realistic goal, and stick to it as much as you can.
The most important thing is that you enjoy the activity. Writing a diary can be one of the biggest pleasures when you learn how to do it.
As time goes by, writing becomes as natural as breathing.
© 2020 Literarycreature
Literarycreature (author) from Argentina on October 06, 2020:
But that is very good! As I said in the article, you should feel free to use your diary as you like. Poetry and stories also show a way of seeing the world and keep a record of our growth.
Thanks for your comment, I really appreciate it!
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 06, 2020:
This was so well written and gave many good reasons why we should keep a diary. I have started to write a diary or journal a number of times But haven’t really succeeded. It usually becomes a notebook full of poetry or short stories, and doodles, rather than daily occurrences.