“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” – Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest.
While one may associate diary-writing with that of teenage girls in American movies writing about their crushes with a pink fluffy pen, the act of keeping a diary is a lot more profound than it seems. In writing down your most vulnerable thoughts and feelings, not only are you engaging in a cathartic process, but also leaving a significant mark on humanity.
Without The Diary of a Young Girl, the world would have never gained insight to the personal, and heart-breaking, account of the atrocities of the Holocaust; told from the perspective of Anne Frank, a 13-year-old Jewish girl who was living through the Second World War.
What is more, in her own intimate journal A Writer’s Diary, Virginia Woolf, one of the 20th century’s most influential writers, claims that keeping a diary helped her to practise and develop her own style, as well as improve her mental state, arguing that writing solely for herself, “loosens the ligaments”.
Thus, keeping a diary is a necessity; both for our well-being as well as for humanity, whereby every stroke of a pen in our diaries records history.
So, what makes keeping a diary so important?
When it comes to writing your own diary, there are no rules. It’s just you, your pen, and your paper. There are no dictations on the path that you should take when expressing your own voice and thus, writing for your eyes-only allows an endless stream of possibilities to arise. Plus, what better way to get to know oneself than to write for yourself and for yourself alone?
1) Writing for yourself is therapeutic.
One of the many advantages to keeping a diary is having the intimate space to share your personal thoughts, feelings, lifegoals, and deepest darkest secrets, without the fear of being judged by others. In turn, you begin to write more authentic and sincere accounts, which allows you to fully engage with your feelings, making the act of diary-keeping therapeutic.
2) Keeping a diary allows room for self-reflection and growth.
After writing various diary entries in the space of a few weeks, you can start to pick up on recurring thought-patterns or events that may be having a negative impact. Keeping a record of diary entries allows you to easily reflect on the thoughts and opinions you formed a long time ago and thus, re-reading past entries can be a helpful way to self-reflect and grow. Looking back can also be very motivating, as you may find that your life is in a much better place than when you wrote your last entry. Not to mention that writing about great days you shared with your friends or positive experiences can also serve as a great mood-boost and a lively trip down memory lane.
The art of diary-keeping should not be confined to writing alone, and so a more common form of self-expression exists today in the form of bullet-journaling. Combining doodles, drawings, masking tape and an abundance of colour in one’s bullet-journal not only surpasses the boundaries of traditional diary-keeping, but also provides an alternative method for those who may find it easier to express themselves through artwork.
And so, I encourage you to pick up your pen and see where it takes you! There is an endless world of possibilities and who knows, you could be the next Bridget Jones….