There’s something quite romantic and old-fashioned about keeping a diary: a book whose pages are filled with your hand-written words and which crackle as you turn them.
The greatest writers, artists and leaders in history kept diaries. Leonardo da Vinci, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill, for example, all loved to write down their thoughts and ideas in notebooks, some of which have also been published.
Why keeping a diary is so nice
It creates a moment of rest in the day
Thanks to our smartphones, we are switched to ‘on-mode’ all day and are constantly receiving information. So, writing in a diary can be looked upon as a daily moment of meditation. You briefly escape the here and now and, instead of filling your head with even more information, you actually make it emptier by writing it all down.
It’s good for the mind
Writing things down helps provide perspective and gives you a good overview and peace of mind. When you write something down, you no longer have to remember it; you can therefore let it go. Moreover, the writing process helps to sort out the constant chaos of thoughts.
It can also help to process emotions. If you supress your emotions, you make yourself feel worse. When you talk about them, you often feel relieved. The same applies to writing. When you name your emotions, the function in your brain that stabilizes your mind is activated. That is why you often feel calmer after writing down your thoughts and feelings, and you see things in a new perspective.
You collect beautiful memories to look back on
It’s nice to be able to read back in five years’ time what you thought, did and felt now. You can see how you have grown or changed, and maybe laugh at the mistakes you’ve made at this time. But you also have a tangible memory of beautiful moments, which is a lot more personal than all those photos in your phone.
You get more self-insight
When you write things down, you quickly recognize patterns in your thoughts, feelings and actions. And because you can then listen to all those thoughts better, you can see more clearly what is important to you. This allows you to better assess where things sometimes still go wrong or discover what you really want.
It makes you more creative
Keeping a diary is also good for your creativity and imagination. Because you clear your mind, you leave a lot of room for new ideas. You will also become a better writer. If you write about your life every day, you can articulate and explain events, ideas and thoughts better.
Tips for sticking with it
If you find it difficult to keep a diary, these tips may well help.
Make it a daily habit
If you take ten minutes each day to write, it quickly becomes a habit. Moreover, you’ll always have a moment of peace in which you can organize your thoughts. A good time is at the end of the day, when your head is often full. Sometimes you fall asleep faster, because you’ve already processed most events while writing. You no longer have to worry about that in bed.
Don’t feel any obligations
If you don’t have the desire or time to write every day, don’t be too hard yourself. Skipping a day is fine too, as is writing just a few words down. Nobody else needs to read it and they certainly won’t judge you if you haven’t written anything for a day.
Take your diary with you wherever you go
You might suddenly feel the need to write while on the train, and so it would be nice to be able to put something down on paper right away. Plus, you feel more motivated to write more often when you have your diary at hand. This way, it’s not sitting at home waiting for you like ‘homework’ but is always there for you to quickly note something about that nice conversation or awkward moment.
Combine it with to-do lists
Lists are another good way to clear your head, and you could also put them in your diary. They may seem unimportant at that time, but in a few years, it could be lovely to read back what you had to do on any given day.