Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Diarying and Journaling

April 8 2009

"Today I inherited a free hat stand from the theatre. This is awesome. Gonna name it Helga."

When I was a little girl, all I wanted was to be able to keep a secret diary, with a lock and key, and write all my simple little thoughts down on the pages every night. I imagined that I would fill hundreds of little books over my lifetimes with adventures and friendships and family and romances and that one day in the future grown up me would look back and chuckle fondly recalling a wonderful lifetime of memories. As a little girl, I lacked the perspective needed to recognise how time consuming keeping such a diary could be and how humiliating reading one from the past might, in fact, prove. 

During my somewhat still brief life, I’ve failed multiple times at keeping a diary full time. I’ve tried, and sometimes for weeks succeeded, but the discomfort of writing in bed combined with the sleepiness associated with nightly diary time wore me down, and the scrawled recording would cease. I could have chosen to write in the mornings, or at my desk, but in my child-mind’s eye I had always imaged scribbling away in my diary under lamplight, propped up by fluffy pillows and hidden under blankets, and this dream became an all or nothing issue. 

March 14 2009

“Oh. My. God. So I stopped writing to check out Aleisha’s hot guy. She's right. He's hot.” 

Despite my past difficulties with the activity, though, I think that some form of dairying or journaling or scrapbooking is an important and useful activity in life. Having a record of what you were doing or feeling at a specific time in the past can be interesting, if not useful. Being able to recall memories and stories in detail is a precious thing, especially if we want to share these with others. But it’s not all about recording for the future.

It is common knowledge that mediation, prayer or reflection is espoused as a very beneficial practice by almost all religions and spiritual practices. Meditative practices are also becoming a more prominent form of treatment for mental illnesses, stress and fatigue as well as being recommended to aid general health and well being. Diarying or journaling can easily be used as a form of such reflection and meditation. The act of writing down thoughts and memories, listing feelings and asking questions can help allow the mind to empty and the writer to become more centred. 

August 8 2008

“Today I woke up with no pants on and my shirt all twisty. If I was a less vigorous sleeper I’d be concerned. Welcome to August everybody.” 

I once joked with a friend that my diaries are all filled with only accounts of the very good or very bad moments of my life, and for an outsider reading them it would seem that I had lived in some sort of soap opera. I used to think of this as a sort of weakness, that I could only force myself to record the exciting moments of my life, but was less bothered with the ordinary parts. I think, though, that really this was me naturally finding a way to unload my mind when it was too full, too hyped and crowded to see clearly. I remember in both the positive and negative cases always feeling more distant from the events I had recounted on paper, able to go on with a clearer perspective and not get too caught up in life right then. 

January 2 2001

“Dear Diary, I tried to ring Sharmaine today but she wasn’t home. I’ll try again tomorrow. Mum said she can come over. My minds [sic] blank. Lauren.” 

The diary excerpts throughout this post are from diaries of mine from the last couple of years. They’re all pretty innocuous snippets of my life generally as a teenager, but when I came across them when researching they made me laugh. Why had I chosen to record these things? Were these really the big issues of my existence at the time? Probably not (and believe me, there were lots of angsty, ‘big issue’ type entries that I’ve left out) but I’m glad I wrote them down. These little bits of writing make me smile and immediately spark strings of memories that are all my own. They remind me that in a few years everything will be different again, and that I shouldn’t get too caught up in stress and problems.

January 13 2009
"I totally went running this morning. For four minutes. Ouch. My side muscles, of all muscles, are in all kinds of pain. I don’t think I’ll ever run again.” 

I could write all day about this topic, really, I’m just getting started here. But I think I’ll save the rest for another post. For now, my advice on journaling or diarying or whatever you’d like to call it – 

- Don’t force it. Write what you want, when you want. It, like everything else, is not all that matters in life.
- Keep it private. It will be more special that way, and you won’t worry about writing for an audience.
- Practise being honest. Try being honest with yourself, and realise how often you may not be, and see if this practice helps.
- Re-read it, burn it, burying it in a time capsule or do whatever you want with it. I honestly think the most beneficial part of diarying is the writing and getting it all out, but I like to keep mine around to laugh at and use for blog post material. 

October 5 2009

“I have a dilemma…I’m really not sure what to do. I can’t decide which job I should take when I move in November. I got the Santa’s Helper job, that’s definite, but it’s probably going to be very little money would end right after Christmas, and I’ll have rent to pay. And do I really want to be a Santa’s Helper? You don’t even get to be an elf and wear an awesome elf costume, you’re just a helper in a polo shirt. Lame. 

Reading David Sedaris’ Holidays On Ice story about being a Christmas elf does not help at all, either, even though it’s hilarious, it doesn’t make one want to be an elf in the slightest. And anyway, I’m not David Sedaris. I think it would be different being an elf if I was David Sedaris.”

 All the pretty pictures found on We Heart It. Click each for source link. 


  1. I love this! I am always trying to keep a journal too, and sometimes I write a lot, and some times I don't. I love having them to look back on later, because there are things about my life that I wish I remembered better! And I'm sure that will be x100 when I'm even older!

  2. I used to have the same daydreams when I was little! I tried a few times and wasn't ever able to write for more than three days. When I go back to those books I can only laugh at how unintelligible my handwriting is. I started journalling for real when I was 16, and I'm still going strong on that one! I think I average about twice a week, actually sitting down and writing. Normally I take it to my boring classes and write then!


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