Cathryn Lavery/Unsplash
Cathryn Lavery/Unsplash

The Lost Art of Keeping A Diary

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As time progresses, the number of people choosing to document their lives through diaries and journals seems to be decreasing. A hobby that used to be a regular part of daily life for many, now only seems to be an archaic form of expression living on in a minority. I have recently delved into this method of personal documentation and discovered the many benefits- both practical and mental- to keeping a journal. Many would disagree, considering it a waste of time or preferring to document their lives through the means of social media, but diary and journal writing could be a hidden gem for therapy and enjoyment most people have yet to discover.

Releasing your anger, frustration, worries or any other negative emotions into your diary or journal can be strangely cathartic…

It has to be agreed, however, that not everyone enjoys writing, especially not any more than they have to for their academic studies. But diary and journal writing have many covert benefits that are rewarding both in the short and long term. Transferring your thoughts onto paper or your laptop, whether it be close to dissertation size or only one page, allows you to encapsulate your emotions at that time and gives you the opportunity to reflect on your thoughts. For happy memories, it is great to look back on your writing and reminisce, even if your excerpt was from a day or a year ago. Also, releasing your anger, frustration, worries or any other negative emotions into your diary or journal can be strangely cathartic, as the expression of your emotions in this form is a way of discarding any problems you may be dealing with.

The beauty of writing a diary or journal is that you can write as much or as little as you like. You may only write when you need to let off some steam, or maybe every Friday by giving an overview of your week- whatever suits you best. I’ve found personally that it is difficult to maintain a journal every day, as it can be very time consuming when taking into account work and other activities; but no matter how much I write, the results are equally positive.

Diaries are a raw, authentic form of documentation that doesn’t compare to any form of social media…

What interests me most is the prospect of looking back on what I wrote in years to come, and being able to remember vividly what I was writing about. As a history student, I’m interested in the preservation of memory and understand how one document, even if it is intensely personal, can teach us a lot about a particular period of time. The contributions diaries and journals make towards memory are incredibly useful, and what is more reassuring than knowing the most notable moments of your life will be available forever?

A problem we face in the modern age is that most people choose to document their lives through Facebook, Snapchat or other forms of social media. Rather than keeping a personal account of your thoughts and emotions, expressing them publicly seems to be the popular choice. This has contributed massively to the devolution of diary writing as storing your video and picture memories in a technological file seems to be quicker and more efficient. But diaries are a raw, authentic form of documentation that doesn’t compare to any form of social media, as the act of writing is more personal than clicking a button.

Diaries and journals are a convenient way to keep your imagination active…

As well as choosing when and what to write, you also have to consider how you want to write. Diaries and journals can be constructed through a range of styles: fictional, first/third person, bullet points, as a conversation; the list is endless. Choosing your style is a perfect way to express your personality through writing and gives you an opportunity to practice your literary talents on a regular basis. Dedicating your time towards writing could also improve your academic work, especially if your course is essay-based, as diaries and journals are a convenient way to keep your imagination active.

Diaries and journals are not just for writing about your day. They are a platform to practice your writing, a form of storage to preserve your memories and something you can express your emotions to. It doesn’t matter what medium you choose to write on, how often you choose to write, what style you choose to write in- diaries and journals can be hugely beneficial to anyone.

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Comments (2)

  • Great article, I agree with a lot of what you said here. Thought I was virtually the only person who still keeps a diary, it’s great to hear from someone like-minded.

  • I came across your article by “google”, searching for “the art of keeping a diary”.
    Your article came up first, but that was the least of my surprises.
    I am happy to see your article: “What interests me most is the prospect of looking back on what I wrote in years to come, and being able to remember vividly what I was writing about. As a history student, I’m interested in the preservation of memory and understand how one document, even if it is intensely personal, can teach us a lot about a particular period of time.”
    To me, this is the most valuable reason to keep a diary, besides and at par with the other reason, to be able to allow others to learn from history.
    As I learned sometime, somewhere – “He who does not learn from history, will repeat it”.
    Not that good history should not be worth repeating, but both good and bad ones are worth learning – good ones for repeating, bad ones for not.
    I have been procrastinating keeping a diary for a long time.
    If you’d be so inclined to share your favorite sources/ book/s about diary keeping, it would be really appreciated, as I am searching for the “Art of keeping a diary” 🙂
    Your readers would definitely benefit from a bibliography on this subject, when your time and situation will allow.
    Thank you for your article, and wish that you will always enjoy your own journey learning from history, either being your own or others.
    Happy Holidays!

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