Diary Writing: Yay or Nay?

Photo credit:
https://unsplash.com/@dariuszsankowski

Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

I recently started writing in my diary again, starting from last week, and so far it’s actually been surprisingly fun. I remember the reason I stopped in the first place was because it was such a chore to get out the diary book and physically write in it. But now that I keep it digital and can pull it up on my phone anytime I want, the experience has been 100% more productive, successful, and fun.

Naturally, this process has still only been going on for a week, so we will need to come back after a few months to check in on consistency (which I understand is by far the most important aspect).


My Own Story with Diaries

The first time in my life when I started keeping a diary was when I was around 8 or 9, when my parents practically forced me to, to improve my handwriting. As with most kids who were forced into doing something they didn’t like, I immediately seized the first chance to drop it when I entered into teenage years in high school. I was relatively diary-free for another solid few years, until one day an English class reignited my interest for one.

I remember it was some kind of reading comprehension exercise about diary writing, and the person talking about it had an absolutely exceptional style of writing; so great in fact that I wanted to write exactly like he did. In the comprehension he talked about the various benefits and advantages of diary writing, which further intrigued me and made me wonder why I had stopped in the first place.

That same day, I went home and got out a fresh, unused copybook, and decided that that would be my new diary. And for a while, I was consistent! I talked about practically every noteworthy thing that had happened that day, and most of the time I was writing anywhere from 3/4 of a page to a page and a half. It was insane.

But then the inevitable happened: I was getting burned out. Boredom started to kick in. My designated time for diary writing was when I came home from school everyday, from which I was getting more and more exhausted from. I eventually started writing 3 or 4 lines in it everyday, then every 2 days, then every week, until finally I had once again quit.

This shouldn’t be surprising to most of you, as most people who write diaries do eventually quit sometime, or take long breaks for a while. It wasn’t even fun for me to go through the entries I had written months before, why would the me in 10 years time find it interesting? Naturally I was falling into a logical fallacy, but I didn’t really realise it.

And now here we are, giving diary writing a 3rd try, a 3rd attempt at consistency. I have set up many ambitious goals this time and, learning from my mistakes, helped ease the process in many ways to ensure I keep up with it.

With my own personal background with diary writing now out of the way, I suppose we should start discussing my views in the advantages and disadvantages of diary writing.


Yay?

The first and possibly most immediately obvious advantage is the opportunity to document our thoughts and experiences. This is good for a few reasons in my opinion, as for one we get to leave something behind in the world. Think of it as a sort of legacy, as proof that you lived a fulfilling life.

Naturally, by writing down our thoughts we also help gain clarity over things. Stuff that was previously confusing and stressful to us can become clearer. By writing down our thoughts and emotions about certain problems, we make it easier for ourselves to see the problem as a whole and thus better solve them.

My post outlining my opinions on the Irish Leaving Cert helped calm me down, collect my thoughts, and enable me to choose what I feel is the best possible option to tackle it this year. This idea of writing down your thoughts on certain issues to solve them is applicable to many different types of scenarios!

Another thing with diary writing is it can help improve your writing style, which is always a nice bonus in my book. Being able to write fluently and smoothly, as well as being able to clearly illustrate your thoughts and ideas will always be an advantage to you, from how I see it.

Another rather controversial benefit from this activity would be memory improvement. From my own personal experience, the periods during which I kept a diary helped significantly improve my working memory. The daily need to be able to completely recall all of the events that occurred in a day definitely contributed to the quality of my short term memory for a while.

But of course, this is all completely anecdotal evidence, and should not be taken seriously as hard proof, since there could’ve been hundreds of other factors that influenced my perceived memory improvement during that time.


Nay?

Honestly, I’m at a loss for what to write here. No matter where you seem to turn online, you’re greeted only with the benefits and advantages from diary writing (which probably should be saying something in itself). But in order to play the devil’s advocate and see both sides of the spectrum, I will attempt to list some perceived disadvantages of diary writing to gain a better picture of the activity.

The easiest one to think of would probably be time lost, right? After an exhausting day, one of the very last things you’d probably want to do is try and remember all the hectic, interesting, and story-worthy events that happened that day. Sometimes it can be so tiring that it is the main reason why people give up diary writing in the first place-‘I had no time’, ‘I was too tired to write in it everyday’, etc.

Another possible argument I could see against the activity would be the inevitable boredom that would kick in. Doing something every day that brings no immediate short term reward will, from my experience, drain you. It is very hard to stay consistent and refute present bias, though it should also be said there are many ways to fight against it.

Lastly, there is always the fear that somehow, someway, people will be able to see it. Human beings can be very private and secretive, and we certainly don’t want outsiders, strangers, to peek into and be able to judge our personal lives. The revelation of the contents of one’s diary to others can be soul crushing. Whether you keep a physical/digital one, there always is the risk of it being potentially leaked, no matter how much you mitigate it. The very possibility alone can drive many people away from this activity, which I can certainly understand.


I know this shouldn’t even need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway. At the end of the day, how we perceive advantages and disadvantages is completely subjective. The benefits of something can be completely meaningless for other people, while others may not care at all about the risk and disadvantages.

What is important is to form your own opinion based on your own experience and circumstances, and take action from there. Diary writing has personally improved my current life in many different areas, and in a way has become something I look forward to doing daily. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that to me, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages completely.

Hopefully some of you may have found some useful info from this post, and may possibly even take up diary writing from this!

I’ll see you next time!

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