Earlier this year, I started keeping a diary and I realised how misleading a word ‘diary’ is. There’s a writer’s diary where one may record their thoughts and responses to books, pieces of writing, process of writing. That explanation is pretty self-explanatory. But then there are those personal, journal diaries. It’s pretty boxing to categorise your diary keeping. It might be disciplining, but personally, a diary is always meant to be pretty free-flow and reflective. I used to keep one when I was in high school, like many high schoolers do. “Today I walked home from school with so and so. Today my crush looked at me. Today my parents annoyed me.” Yep, I was that kid. And since growing out of that, the thought of keeping a diary has always come with the cringing memory of the teen-diary I so viciously ripped and threw away many, many years ago. It has also always come with the knowledge that if I started writing a diary, I would sooner or later read back on what I’d written and fall back into the cycle of cringing at myself. Half the time, I don’t want to blog for that exact reason. Because for me, talking about myself or anything related to myself always comes with a part of me that stands back and looks at myself critically, despite how good it feels to get things out, and despite the fact that there are thousands out there making a living from doing just that. So, I decided to start keeping a diary in a new way.
1) Don’t write it daily.
Write it when you need to. When you have some thoughts you want to share but don’t want to tweet, or blog, or write in the form of fiction or poetry. Write it in a diary. Don’t write about the mundane occurrences of your days. Write about the changes, the specific timelines of your life. And these can be a change in the mood, in health, in small goals such as running the extra mile rather than just the big events. Anything that stands out.
2) Don’t aim to write in a specific style.
One day you might write in first person. The next time you might write in second. It might vary from fully written out sentences and paragraphs to disjointed prose. Even lines that aren’t quite poetry. Hell, it might even be 3 lines. Write in the style that feels right at the time.
3) Don’t read back unless you have to.
Unless it was a short story idea or poetry idea that came out in the form of a diary, don’t read back. You don’t need to. Sometimes I write just to empty my brain of the excess thoughts and this might be just that to make space and focus for new, better ones.
4) Definitely write using a nice flowing pen. Seriously.
5) Make sure the diary/paper itself feels good.
And this is pretty much what I have been doing as of late, when social media and whatnot has just felt too loud, too mindless, and I’ve felt way too introverted. I should make it into a routine to write in it daily, but I feel like that would defeat the point of it being natural and unforced. Besides, we’re not talking about ‘writing’ as in fiction/prose/poetry. Those exercises should probably be done daily.. But with a diary I feel it has to be more ‘as and when’, from experience. I will probably read back on it at some point.. Just not yet. n the past, I’ve actually used a lot of what I have written as dissertation writing. Lately, I’ve become a strong believer in the idea that there is a time for everything and you end up being at a certain stop/point/situation in your life when you need to be. Otherwise you would be making the change to not be there, right? How do the rest of you keep a diary, if at all?