How to write a diary

How to write a diary

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How to Write a Diary

Have you been thinking about how to write a diary? A diary is usually a collection of private entries that report what happened throughout your day. It usually includes experiences, thoughts, and feelings you have on a daily basis.

Infographic with navy blue background turquoise icons showing how to write a diary and 10 benefits to keep a diary

The Purpose of a Diary

The main purpose of writing in a diary is to document what happens in your daily life. It gives you a safe and private place to capture your thoughts. It can also provide great insight into a person’s life after they are no longer with us.

Top 10 Benefits of Keeping a Diary

Many experts say that keeping a diary has a long list of benefits. Here are the top 10:

Great for Mental Health

A diary offers you a safe place to vent about things and reflect back on them. You don’t have to worry about how anyone will react to what you’re saying because it’s personal and just for you. You can record your thoughts and your feelings without censoring yourself.

Helps Improve Writing Skills

They say practice makes perfect, right? If you’re writing on a daily basis, your skills are bound to improve. You don’t get caught up in making things perfect for anyone else, so you learn how to be more creative with your writing.

Jogs Your Memory

When you learn new skills or life lessons, a diary is the place you can write them down. Then, if you need reminders along the way, you can go back and read about those things. You can share your hard times, as well, and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again.

Boosts Self-Esteem

Helps You Hit Your Goals

Improves Emotional Well-being

Promotes Self-Discipline

You’re setting aside time each day to write in your diary. That requires discipline. You commit to doing one thing, and that can lead to you forming better habits elsewhere in your life.

Sparks Creativity

There are no defined rules on how to write a diary. There is no structure. You can write whatever you want, whenever you want, and however long you want. This causes you to be more creative because you’re not bound by any rules.

Relieves Stress

Ideas are Recorded

BEST Tips On How to Write a Diary

Here are some of our best tips to get started & keep you inspired:

Which is Better: Paper or Digital?

As technology has advanced, many people have found alternative methods to keeping a handwritten diary. There are a variety of diary apps available, as well as note-taking apps, and you could always write your entries in Google docs or Microsoft Word. If you really want to put yourself out there, you could turn your diary into a blog.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of paper and electronic diaries:

Paper Diary





How to Keep a Digital Diary or Journal

How to Write a Diary & Make it Accessible After You’re Gone

Listen, we know a diary is a very personal record of someone’s life. When most people start a diary, they don’t consider if they’ll want to share it with people in the future. However, it is something you may want to think about. After you’re gone, it could give your loved ones some insight on the thoughts and feelings behind the decisions you’ve made.

If you went the paper route when you started your diary, it’s pretty easy to turn it into a digital format. You can scan the pages using your printer, or you could take pictures of the pages with your smartphone. Then, you could upload those files securely using our My LifeJars app.

If you still aren’t sure how to write a diary, you can use My LifeJars to create your digital diary. We have a simple guide you can follow to get you started, just in case you’re not sure where to begin. We give you prompts and ideas on what moments of life you should think about preserving.

With My LifeJars, you choose who can access your digital diary and when they can access it. You have control over whether your friends and family can see and share things now, or you can wait until after you’re gone.

The My LifeJars app also makes it very easy to add photos to go along with your diary entries. You can upload the photos via the app and designate which entries you want them to go with. It’s an easy way to keep all your cherished memories all in one place, and make them easily accessible to your loved ones.

Storing Your Important Documents in One Place

As much as we don’t like to think about dying, it’s important to make sure everything is in order for the family we leave behind. That’s where we step in to help. My LifeJars offers you a safe, secure online place to store everything your family needs when you’re no longer with them. It’s the safest place to keep a digital copy of your diary, so your life story is protected and accessible to your loved ones.

Our app is the perfect place to organize and share all of your important documents, like your last will and testament, your advance care directive, your health care proxy, your enduring power of attorney, and your enduring guardian. We make it simple for you to give access to all the people who will need this information in the future.

What Are the Benefits of My LifeJars?

With this basic account store 24 memories, 24 things, 16 passwords upload file sizes up to 10MB and access 2GB of data storage. Create a life profile for yourself as well as for 4 other family members or friends and 4 legacies.

Only switch to a Gold paid account if you want to add unlimited memories, things & passwords, unlimited life profiles & legacies, upload file sizes up to 500MB including videos and store 200GB of data across all the profiles and legacies you create.

Dear Diary: how keeping a journal can bring you daily peace

Me and my thoughts: ‘There’s a lot about music in mine, and loads of gossip, much of it indefensible. There is also a fair bit about football.’ Anthony Quinn in his garden with some of his old diaries.

Me and my thoughts: ‘There’s a lot about music in mine, and loads of gossip, much of it indefensible. There is also a fair bit about football.’ Anthony Quinn in his garden with some of his old diaries. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Me and my thoughts: ‘There’s a lot about music in mine, and loads of gossip, much of it indefensible. There is also a fair bit about football.’ Anthony Quinn in his garden with some of his old diaries. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

I still get funny looks from people when I mention that I keep a diary. Maybe the practice strikes them as shifty or weirdly old-fashioned. It’s true that I never feel more furtive than when my wife finds me writing it at our kitchen table – it’s like being spotted entering a confessional box in church. What exactly have I got to tell this black book about a life that we share all day, every day? What secrets can I possibly be keeping?

The answer: nothing of any great note, and yet so much of my life is in it. I started writing a journal (as I used to call it) when I went on holiday. Twenty years ago I decided to go full-time and since then I’ve kept it more or less every day. Why? I suppose it began as an experiment – and became an obligation. You can’t hold back time, but you can try to save the past from being completely erased. It often feels trivial to record things as they happen (a stray remark, hearing a song, fleeting moments of doom or delight), but later they may prove useful, or instructive, or amusing. It also maintains the illusion of diligence – that you’re not just pissing away the days. A diary is good exercise for the writing muscle, the way a pianist practises scales or a footballer does keepy-uppies. During lockdown, like everyone else, I got into routines that felt numbing in their repetition and diary-wise left me short of material. I took recourse to discussing the books and box sets I was involved with – not exactly Pepysian, but it got me through.

Which prompts the question: who are you writing for? Ultimately, it’s yourself. Diary-writing is the most private form of literary creation because you are both the author and (for the present at least) the sole reader. There are great advantages to this. The first is the benefit to your mental health. The diary is a safety-valve in an age of invasive scrutiny. I should admit that I have never been on social media and don’t own a mobile phone. (Yeah, I know). Much better to confide your unworthy or unrepeatable thoughts to that book on your desk than pin them up for everyone to read online. There is no fear of being trolled or cancelled when you only write for yourself and you won’t have to live out your regret in public. Is there anything quite so pathetic in social-media manners as the line “They later deleted the tweet”?

Even the greats have used their diary as a psychological prop. James Boswell, often prey to insecurity and low spirits, would address himself in his journal in the second-person, as if he were his own mentor. Studying law as a young man in Utrecht in September 1763, he writes: “Try and be shaved and dressed by nine… Read much privately and continue firm to plan… Resolve now no more billiards. Be not hasty to take music master, and consult Count Nassau about concert. Be frugal, calm and happy, and get wine soon.” I love that last bit.

The second is more to do with existential curiosity: the long perspective of diary-writing furnishes a picture not just of what you did but of who you were. To read diaries of old is to chart the progression of the self – “the varieties of ourselves”, as Penelope Lively puts it – as it changes through time. Sometimes I happen on a diary entry from years ago and think, in genuine surprise: did I write that? If it weren’t in my handwriting I would be inclined to doubt it. We evolve, we slough off old selves and acquire new ones, and yet some essential core in us persists, a cast of mind. Memory will play us false about our past, will blur the nuances or miscarry the meaning; a diary, while not infallible, can at least claim: “I was there at the time.”

A third important advantage of the diary is as an aide-memoire to your work. History does the broad sweep of years and decades. Biography does the intricate detail of character and incident. Diaries do both of these jobs, somewhat inadvertently, and may be mined for material thereafter. Certain seismic events are noted in mine, though aside from the odd pandemic and election result there’s not much “hand of history” stuff going on there – that’s not why I write it. I have some sympathy for Louis XVI returning from hunting on the day the Bastille fell and writing in his diary, “Rien”.


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