Starting a diary can have many benefits.
If you have stomach complaints, a food diary helps you understand which foods are causing you discomfort. Dream diaries are a tool often used by psychotherapists to assess mental well-being, and, in order to improve/track your general fitness, you can start a health diary.
Think ‘diary’ and you probably imagine angsty, acne-ridden teens scrawling down their every emotion and whim.
In fact, diaries range from one-year personal journals that reflect on each day in your life, to planners which track your day-to-day appointments and meetings. You can also keep an academic diary to log classroom experiences and assignments.
However, making a habit of keeping diary or journal is easier said than done.
For this reason, here at The Journal Shop, we’ve put together this article to help get you started.
Ways to start a diary
Journaling is a great way to record your personal growth and development. The more entry writing you do, the more you’ll look back and see what has changed over time. Also, the earlier you start, the more thankful you’ll be later on.
Getting diary supplies that you like and will use, setting a writing schedule and deciding what you want to write can all help you get started on your new diary.
Scroll down for more ways to motivate yourself …
How to build a habit of writing a diary
Your diary is where you empty your thoughts onto a piece of paper. Your diary is a little part of you.
To build a habit of writing a diary, you need to do a few things:
Before you put pen to paper
First, set a date. The start of a new year, for example, is a fitting occasion.
Of course, it doesn't have to be the 1st January. Perhaps you start your diary after a significant event in your life, such as getting married, having a child or starting a new career.
Then, your first diary entry will be something to look back on:
Get properly equipped
If you are keeping a paper diary, ensure you get a pen you enjoy writing with.
Interestingly, which type of pen/pencil you use says a lot about your personality. [Link to quiz.]
Also, make sure you get a decent, good quality diary that will last some time—you don’t want it to fall apart after a few weeks!
Choose a writing space
Writing in the same location every day can help you stay committed. It will create structure and help to develop a routine.
It doesn’t matter where you choose—it could be your bedroom, on the train to work, your favourite coffee shop, even a bar!
The important thing is to write in the same setting every day as this will reinforce your regime.
Create a schedule
If you want to log entries every day, create a routine for yourself. That way, writing your diary will quickly become habit.
Depending on what sort of diary you are keeping, adjust your schedule accordingly.
Those keeping dream diaries, for example, need to make entries as soon as they wake up in the morning (or in the middle of the night) when their dreams are still fresh in their mind.
If you are keeping a food diary, though, make entries after each meal, and remember to include everything you’ve eaten.
If you’re keeping a personal diary, perhaps you’ll write first thing in the morning about what happened the day before.
Or, maybe you’d prefer to make your entry at the end of the day, as a way to destress and collect your thoughts.
To make sure you stick to your writing schedule, set an alarm on your smartphone to remind you to write at the same time each day.
Writing diary entries
Starting a diary can be a daunting prospect; being disciplined with your writing regime is tough, to begin with.
Read on for advice on how to fill the first few pages of your diary.
Soon, it will become second nature!
Date and mark every entry
Make a note of the date on the top of the page so that you don’t forget when you logged your entry:
One idea is to begin each entry with the same prompt each day. Something like: ‘Dear diary’, ‘Today I…’ or ‘Right now, I’m...’:
If you don't know what to write, write about why you want to keep a diary. Write about your hopes, dreams and aspirations; write about your regrets.
Don't worry about writing the next Ulysses. Your diary is personal and not an epic piece of literature.
Write short entries, to begin with. A paragraph that sums up your day is all you need, especially when you’re starting out.
You don’t always have to write short entries, however. As time goes on, gradually build up their length and detail.
Be open and honest
The idea of a diary is that no one can judge you for it—provided you keep it well-hidden, that is!
Log your deepest emotions, secrets and desires. Open up and let loose as this form of catharsis can be really beneficial for your mental well-being.
Record what makes you happy
Each day, it’s the little things that make us happy. It’s all too easy to forget these moments as time goes on.
Try recording the moments that make you smile.
Sample of diary writing
For some inspiration, here’s a sample of diary writing:
There are three key ways to successfully start a diary:
1. Be excited - look forward to engaging in this fun and productive habit.
2. Be reflective - reflect on yourself and those around you, use your diary to consider the state of the world.
3. Write freely - don't hold back, write about whatever pops into your head. This will develop a kind of ‘stream-of-consciousness’ that you’ll be able to look back on in years to come.
Keeping a diary isn’t easy, but as we said at the start, if you do you’ll thank yourself in later life.
So, don’t delay, buy yourself a shiny new journal and get going!
We hope this article has encouraged you to start a diary. If it has, we wish you happy writing!