How to Write a Diary

Four Parts:Sample Diary EntriesMaking Decisions about Your DiaryWriting Diary EntriesPersonalizing Your Diary

In an age of blogs and social media postings, diaries still have a loyal following. They allow you to be completely honest, secure in privacy, and able to keep your writings forever. To write a diary, you'll need to decide the type of diary you want -- think size, security, and frequency of writings -- then write entries that are honest, detailed, and authentically you. Don't stress too much about the actual content; simply write about whatever you feel is important for the best experience.

Sample Diary Entries

Sample Travel Diary

Sample Diary Entries

Sample Personal Journal Entry


Part 1
Making Decisions about Your Diary

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    Consider your diary requirements. The type of diary you choose depends on your writing style, personal preferences, and other factors. Take some time to consider diary type before purchasing a diary.
    • Take your handwriting into consideration. How big do you usually write? If you have small, neat handwriting a diary with smaller margins and line spaces might be ideal. If your handwriting tends to be bigger and messier, opt for a diary with larger margins. You could even choose a diary with white pages and no lines--this is especially good if you like to sketch alongside your writings.
    • How durable do you want your diary to be? Something like a moleskin notebook is somewhat expensive, around $15 to $20, but it's very durable. You may be able to find cheaper diaries at supermarkets, craft stores, and thrift/charity shops.
    • Do you plan on carrying your diary with you? Many people like to have a diary or notebook on their person at all times to write down day-to-day observations. If that's your plan, consider purchasing a pocket-sized or small diary that can easily fit in a purse or tote bag.
    • If you live with other people and want privacy, consider a diary with a lock. However, keep in mind diary locks are sometimes flimsy and easily broken.
    • There are websites that allow you to keep a diary online. One benefit to this is that it takes up less space and many people feel more comfortable typing than writing by hand. However, privacy is an issue. Even if your site is password protected, your privacy is never 100% secure online. Someone might stumble on your diary online and gain access to your personal information.
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    Decide where to store your diary. If you want to keep your diary private, find a discreet place to store it in your home. Consider hiding it under your mattress, under your clothes in a dresser drawer, or any other place where people are unlikely to poke around. If you're not worried about privacy, keep your diary in an easy-to-reach place close to your desk, bed, or wherever you plan on writing.
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    Consider how you'll mark entries. There are various manners you can mark entries in a diary. Some people enjoy dating their entries so they'll remember the rough timeframe when rereading their works. Other people prefer short titles to each entry. Be creative and have fun. Use whatever method feels right for you.[1]
    • Some people use signatures to mark entries. If you enjoy leaving a signature, feel free to do so. However, privacy may be an issue. If your diary is accidentally lost, the words will be linked to you. If you're recording particularly private thoughts, you may not want this. Consider initials instead.

Part 2
Writing Diary Entries

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    Be honest. Diaries can be cognitively beneficial. A study at University of California showed that writing about feelings honestly helps the brain regulate emotion.[2] As you write your diary, try to be as honest as possible in your entries. This is good for your emotional well-being.
    • Many people find diary writing cathartic because they can let go of inhibitions on the page and truly be themselves. Feel free to record your emotions, both positive and negative, in their entirety in your diary.[3]
    • Let go of worries about the quality of your writing. Your diary is a safe space for you to vent and share without the pressures of external judgment. Try to take a few minutes at the beginning of each entry to simply free write. That is, write quickly and without inhibition. Jot down the first things that come to mind when considering your day, current mood, and any feelings you're struggling with.[4]
    • Many people have epiphanies about themselves and their relationships through honest diary writing. Be open to learning about yourself as you write.[5]
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    Decide what to write about. There are many different types of diaries. Some people use diaries to record daily events. Others use them to chronicle dreams. If you're working towards a goal, like losing weight or completing a creative project, a diary can be a great means to discuss your feelings and progress. Some people record a mix of different things in their diary. It's up to you what you feel is important to record.
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    Use lots of details. Diaries are also important as they preserve moments in their immediate aftermath. Memory is fickle and precise details of an event tend to blur with time. Use details in your diary entries to try to preserve the moment.[6]
    • Think about your past before you begin writing in your diary. What do you wish you remembered? Do you wish you had better memories of your grandmother's laugh? Do you wish you took greater time to commit to memory the smell of your childhood bedroom on Thanksgiving morning as your mother fixed breakfast? Use these longings as a guide in your diary. Record, in detail, those moments that feel precious to you and that you'll long to recall later on.[7]
    • You should be as honest in your descriptions as you are in your venting. You want your diary to preserve your memories and perspective of an event. Do not talk about how your girlfriend's hair "shone brighter than the Northern Lights" if you've never witnessed the northern lights. Talk about things in terms that make sense to you. For example, you could say your girlfriend's hair "glistened like sun reflecting off the headlights of a car mid-afternoon." While perhaps a less romantic comparison, it's authentically yours.[8]
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    Maintain a schedule. Many people struggle to find the time to write a diary entry each day. If you're interested in maintaining a diary, try to stick to something of a schedule.
    • Write in your diary around the same time each day. This way, writing in your diary will become as much a part of your schedule as brushing your teeth at night or showering in the morning.[9]
    • Do not set a schedule you do not think you can keep. If you don't reasonably think you'll be able to write in your diary every night, don't commit yourself to doing so. Instead, choose a more lax schedule. Plan on writing an entry 3 times a week instead.
    • Pick a time to write where you do not have other obligations or external time constraints.
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    Write short entries when you're pressed for time. Everyone gets busy from time-to-time. If you're in a rush, just write a shorter entry. Jot down the bare minimum of your feelings and thoughts. Get out whatever feels most pressing and immediate. You can always record more about an event later in the week when you have time. Simply try to get out the basic details before you forget.[10]

Part 3
Personalizing Your Diary

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    Add illustrations. If you want make your diary more personal, consider adding illustrations. This can be a fun way to make your diary more personal.
    • Some people having a particular illustration or type of illustration on each page. For example, if you have a cat you're attached to you could draw a small sketch of your cat at the bottom of each page. If you want to get more detailed, consider drawing the cat different based on seasons. In the summer, he could be wearing sunglasses. He could be sledding in the winter.[11]
    • You could also include illustrations of some the material you're writing about. You could add a small sketch at the end of the entry or sketch in the margins. Draw pictures of the people you saw that day, the food you ate, the movies you watched, really anything memorable.[12]
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    Alter the cover. Some diaries come with decorative covers, but some are plain. If your cover is simply dull, you might want to add decoration. You can write your name in colorful, fun lettering. You can add stickers or glue on cut outs from magazines or newspapers. You can draw on the cover with colored pencils or markers. Have fun and be creative.
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    Buy a personalized journal. You can purchase personalized journals online if you don't feel comfortable crafting yourself. You can usually choose from a handful of illustrations or templates and can add things like your name and address to the inside cover. Some journals, usually marketed towards a younger audience, may include writing prompts and fill in the blank pages inside.
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    Do not go overboard. Remember, it's a diary and not a scrapbook. It can be fun to add mementos like concert tickets, photographs, and brochures from places you've visited. However, adding too much can make your diary look like a scrapbook. A diary should be primarily used for writing rather than collaging.

Tips

  • Have fun. Writing a diary should be a cathartic experience and not a chore. Allow yourself to enjoy your writing.
  • Instead of putting "My Diary" or whatever, you can put "Algebra Notes" or "School Notebook" just so no one knows it's your diary!
  • Ensure a way of keeping your diary private such as using a lock, code, or place to keep it hidden. You won't want your diary read!

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