Diary Writing

Apr 04

Diary Writing

“Diary writing is far more than a way of exorcising one’s unhappiness. The effect is extraordinary. Distanced on paper, troubles shrink to their true size. You can regard them objectively and see how temporary they are”….Devi, my Mother

That’s the truth.

I figured I’d write about Diary writing for D on Day 4 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge – as I was looking through my journal for ideas.

I remember starting my diary writing when I was very young. I’d write all kinds of stuff, from the mundane everyday events to poetry, stories, and fantasies and so on. My Mom encouraged me to w rite about my experiences, every trip we made, even if it was to the grocery store. If you are wondering what could possibly come out of that – I used it as an observation test. I noticed the number of items on display and described them. I wrote about their texture and uses. The words just poured out.

In fact, diary writing turned into one of my main sources of entertainment, besides reading and music. My childhood was blessed with no TV or internet. Heck, we didn’t even have a refrigerator or fans in the house. All that came much later. But let me not digress.

I’d like to share what I have learned from keeping a diary. Oh yes, I still do. And in the process of growing up, I’ve progressed from being open about it, being secretive and gradually becoming focused.

A fresh perspective

Have you ever noticed how, when you offload your thoughts on paper, everything looks different from how it appeared in your head? More manageable? More hopeful? I find I can tackle anything easily. And peace reigns.

diary writing vidya suryA source of motivation

When I go back and read what I’ve written in the past, I am happy to see how I overcame situations. Makes me feel I am capable, I am enough. Along the way, it made me emotionally strong – nothing more inspiring than learning from my own mistakes.

Great way to keep a record of my progress

If I am working on an assignment, I free my mind through self-talk. I like to think it is one of the reasons I am able to stay cool and take on any kind of project with confidence. When I look at what I was doing in 2005 and compare it with today, I feel happy with my progress. On days when I feel low, flipping through my diary raises my spirits.

In the journal I am at ease – Anaïs Nin

Focus

While I am not big on actual goal setting, I am a list-maker. Lists drive my life. They help me focus. I make to do lists, wish lists and extract my priority list from that. Writing a diary helps me be specific, which in turn helps me focus and move towards my goals. I find it also helps me keep my memory sharp.

Improved writing

One of the things I enjoy about writing is the freedom to just let go. Like travel, it broadens our minds. It fuels our creativity, while improving our writing skills. It makes writer’s block a myth. When I write in my diary, I don’t worry about who might read and react. And that freedom brings forth the words without restraint. I take Hemingway’s advice seriously – write drunk, edit sober!

A memoir of my Momhood

Diary writing took on new meaning when Vidur was born. I’d write down everything that happened. The other day, I was looking for something and came across one of the writing pads Sury and I had taken turns to write – and we had a good laugh reading it! A great reminder of the wonderful time we had. Keeps us grounded.

Inspiring

There is no dearth of topics to write about when diary writing becomes a habit.

diary writing vidya sury

Stress relief

I remember, when I was about 16 we had a family friend who visited often. He used to be very holier than thou and got on my nerves. But my folks liked him a lot. Nothing really wrong with him per se, but you know how some people grate on the nerves. I used to pour my heart out in my diary, merrily cussing him as much as I liked. One day, I must have dozed off writing and my Mom, who was about to shut the book happened to see what I’d written. Arrgh. Never mind what happened the next day – but from then on, I wrote in my own shorthand in a mix of French and other languages I knew.

What solid stress relief it was to get things off my chest. I also imagined all kinds of crazy outcomes for situations and well, my sense of humor only got better. Things I dared not share with my Mom went straight into my diary. My heart was light and happy. Oh yes, I wrote about my imaginary romances and nonsense about what I’d do if I met my favorite celebrity and of course, those guys I secretly drooled over. So hilarious to see it now.

“Everyone thinks I’m showing off when I talk, ridiculous when I’m silent, insolent when I answer, cunning when I have a good idea, lazy when I’m tired, selfish when I eat one bite more than I should.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Diary writing is a great way to ensure smiles. It is encouraging to see the progress we’ve made as individuals over the years. It helps us to understand ourselves better and makes us happy. It makes us reflect, introspect. It serves as an affirmation.

Yes, diary writing makes you happier! And who knows…someday there might be a book deal waiting to happen in those pages!

Do you keep a journal? How does it help?

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43 comments

  1. I keep several diaries. One for my wee urban garden, one for fiction, one for personal stuff… they all help in different ways: information tracking, unloading the day’s stress and in many cases they are the places where ideas are born.
    Magaly Guerrero recently posted…White Is for Witching and Bloom Is for SpringMy Profile

  2. The funny thing is I always used my diary for happy writing, for sharing my fun. Maybe that’s why I grew up to be mostly a humor writer. Reading this post, I see that I am under utilizing a wonderful tool that is easily available. Thanks.
    Rhonda Albom recently posted…Desert Floods in Oman ~ #AtoZ AmaZing PhotosMy Profile

  3. Totally agree with the benefits of writing a diary. Only wish I did it still! Loved the quote “Write Drunk, Edit Sober”. So true!
    Madhu recently posted…ClaraMy Profile

  4. While I’ve read a lot about the benefits of diary writing, I’ve never done it. I guess it’s because I believe(d) that a diary has to contain unfiltered, uncensored thoughts/opinions, and my thoughts/opinions on many subjects and persons are neither palatable to, nor digestible by most persons, it was not worth the risk of somebody chancing to read my diary (like your Mom read yours)!
    Proactive Indian recently posted…Dignity of labourMy Profile

  5. Diary writing is Cathartic !! I tried writing some pages when I was a kid, and then found that my thoughts were travelling at a greater speed than my hands, so I stopped. Yet, the yearning to write remained. It remains, and to a certain extent, it gets released through the blog !
    Kudos to you for making a wholesome post out of something as simple and beautiful as a diary !!
    Sreeja Praveen recently posted…A to Z Random Post # 4 – D – Divorce !My Profile

  6. I do keep a prayer journal type of diary where I write out things I may be praying about or poems, things I learn from the Bible as I’m reading it, I do record key events in it too. It is interesting, like you said, to go back and read them from years past. Things that bothered me and worried me back then I can hardly remember these days :)

    betty
    Betty recently posted…catMy Profile

  7. There is a reason my blog is called a Diary ;) I agree completely that it is a wonderful way to pour thoughts and emotions on paper. Writing it out makes it much easier to handle. Words we cannot control, but thoughts come out in a structured and balanced manner.
    You mirror my checklist frenzy, by the way ;)
    Shailaja V recently posted…Dealing with DeathMy Profile

  8. I agree with you about the benefits, Vidya. Loved the story about the painful visitor and am so curious to see your multi-lingual entries! ;)

    PS: You just successfully killed off my ‘J’ post – on journaliing. Ha ha. :)
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…DetachmentMy Profile

    • :-) I think you should write the post on journaling anyway!
      After I wrote this post last night, I wanted to dig out some of those diaries. If I find this one, I’ll send you a snapshot! Hugs!

  9. I agree that journaling is cathartic. I wrote and wrote when my first marriage fell to pieces. It helped me to see that there were mistakes on both sides and to forgive myself and my ex.
    Erica recently posted…D is for DogsMy Profile

  10. Sulekha /

    I have a ton of diaries in my trunk and I read them every time I need to revisit my past and am in need of a whiff of memories of the days gone by. I have so many poems and letters I had written to my newborns :) Love losing myself in the pages of my diaries. Thanks for this lovely reminder, i need to get my journals out :)

  11. Ritu Lalit /

    I used to keep diaries, journals actually. Now I don’t, somewhere along the line, after internet happened, I gave up the habit

  12. Ithink diary writing is such a good idea. i have an 11yr old boy who suffers from tics and I have been trying to encourage him to write, he also suffers from bullying I think writing is a great way of letting things disappear on to paper a little and away from us.

    Hello from anothr A-Z blogger x

  13. I now have a “green” book tht acocompnies me everywhere! So everytime I see somebody being bitchy off it goes there as a inspiration for next story :-P
    Meena Menon recently posted…Dilras Banu Begum @Bibi Ka MaqbaraMy Profile

  14. I have been writing diary since I was around 8 to 9 years old. I wrote regularly throughout high school. In college,I have skipped in between. Now I am not keeping a a few years. Planning to start again shortly. Diary keeping is absolutely therapeutic.
    Nats recently posted…D for DalhousieMy Profile

  15. Your mom is a wise woman!
    And I remember reading The Diary Of Anne Frank when I was an early teen… many, many, many, many years ago… :)
    Michelle Wallace recently posted…D is for DiaryMy Profile

  16. I always ask my lovely clients to keep a journal as the benefits are immense. The physical act of writing has an important effect on your brain that typing doesn’t and writing about your thoughts and experiences is a great way of gaining perspective and spotting patterns that you may not have noticed before. As my clients tend to work with me over 6 months their journal also becomes a valuable reminder of their progress towards personal peace and happiness and becomes a much cherished part of their own personal history.
    Cathy Dean recently posted…Discipline: The A – Z of Personal and Professional SuccessMy Profile

  17. I write in several diaries – not very regularly, and not all of them are paper diaries! Some are invisible sorts, are some are electronic types :) But yes, totally agree that keeping a journal can be so rewarding, in many ways. And it is also so much fun to shop for that perfect journal :) Which reminds me I have quite a collection of unused journals, so I better start writing more!
    Love that line about writing in French and other languages….:)
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…D is for DiversityMy Profile

  18. I have kept diaries over the years…nowadays it’s mostly a hidden folder in my mail where I pour my thoughts…ofcourse it’s amusing to read those again! :)
    nabanita recently posted…D is for feeling DejectedMy Profile

  19. Have been doing that for ages. Words have always found me in times of pain and relieved me of it…
    Richa Singh recently posted…Don’t forget to forgive yourselfMy Profile

  20. Another power-pact post :-). Yes, I gave it a try few times in my life but could not manage to continue. My fault!!.
    I look forward to your future posts.
    Jayanta Tewari recently posted…D is Development For All – Inclusive GrowthMy Profile

  21. Writing in a diary can be very therapeutic!
    Sherry Ellis recently posted…Dancing MamaMy Profile

  22. I love your observation test, and I can see where that would help a person improve in writing. I also love your Anne Frank quote – how beautifully suited for this post. I have written in a diary for years, but I used to do it faithfully. Might have to start that up again.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com
    debi o’neille recently posted…D IS FOR DECLIVITYMy Profile

  23. I have a habit of keeping a diary since I was eight years old. That is the time when I grew the hobby of writing in me. A diary is the storage of all ideas, I believe :)
    Sayantini Bhattacharya recently posted…DreamerMy Profile

  24. I never really got in the habit of keeping a diary. Both my Grandma and my mom kept diaries. My Grandma did her whole life. After my mom and dad had died I came across a diary my mother kept while she was pregnant for me. It has become quite a precious treasure to me. Her last entry was the day I was born saying I had finally arrived, how her labor went, my name, weight and length and how happy she was I was here. Within the pages I found a picture of her 8 months pregnant. It helped me see a whole different side of my mom.
    Kathy Combs recently posted…D is for DayMy Profile

  25. It’s awesome to keep a diary and kept one in 2006 during my vacations. I was bored in hostel and started scribbling on my Mumbai days, relationship and all. I have another one and scribbled after aeons. Now, you prompting me to go and jot something, straightway. Love ur reasons, it improve our writing, release energy-cum-worries and goals.
    vishalbheeroo recently posted…D for DoodleMy Profile

  26. How nice…so you must be having an almirah of dairies. :) I used to write but stopped due to security reasons :P. It never struck me that we could write in short hand. Otherwise, I would have continued learning it and wrote the dairy forever :)
    Latha recently posted…D – Dawn or Dusk??My Profile

  27. A detailed write up.With near extinction of writing instruments except for signing cheques and documents ,the written diary should yield place for one in laptop or iPad.Do we then lose the personal touch? I do not think so.
    KP recently posted…The buttonMy Profile

    • Dear KP, you are right. Technology is all very well. Ultimately, it is how we choose to use it that matters. After all, everything is initiated by human beings, no? :-) That is what keeps me grounded!
      Thank you for visiting!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Eco-LivingMy Profile

  28. I love writing diaries… each month I will color code the pages with positive things and somewhat negative things of every month. And I collect paper sovenirs and stick them on the pages… like a scrapbook. Loved your post :)
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…The Elephant ExplanationMy Profile

  29. I found that when I write in a diary by hand, so much negativity comes out. And then when I read back over what I have written, it really brings me down and reinforces a sour mood. But when I type my thoughts, they tend to be so much more positive. I don’t know if this means I should struggle with hand-writing a journal to focus more on joy, or if I should just recognize that I’ve found what works and give up the hand-written diary altogether. I have worked hard to avoid things that bring me down, so I’m not sure I want to continue working on something that only seems to bring me sorrow. What are your thoughts on this?
    Andi-Roo ( recently posted…A Crappy Character is a No Go. — #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

    • Andi, I’d say do what makes you happy.

      It is interesting how writing is different from typing for you. I do both – and find I prefer to type these days, simply because it is easier to do and store and my fingers can keep pace with my thoughts better than when i write.

      So although I do write on paper, I type more. Years ago, when I read sad stuff I wrote I’d boil over too. Somewhere along the way, I mellowed, prioritized and learned to let go.

      Do what makes you feel good. Hugs!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Eco-LivingMy Profile

  30. My Inner Chick /

    You are indeed your mother’s daughter. She is amazing and insightful like you, Vidya!

    I have always written, but not in a diary…Just blank pages, tablets, napkins, and inside my head.

    I loved this post.

    And I love you more than dripping snow and ice outside my writing window.

    xxxxxx
    My Inner Chick recently posted…The Sun Shines Differently Without YouMy Profile

    • And you are a brilliant writer, Kim! I still remember the first post I read on your blog years ago!

      Hugs! Love you more than the brilliant sunshine!

  31. Hi Vidya,

    Nice post on today’s alphabet. .Lovely writing on the whole art of diary writing. I used to do that when I was studying. I don’t do it now. But, it really helped me way back then at an age when one often wondered why the world did not understand us….Happy Blogging A to Z.
    Shail Raghuvanshi recently posted…D for DusterMy Profile

  32. Tried this as a teenager but felt exposed, so I stopped even though the only one reading it was me. Now here I am blogging, it is a funny old world.
    Urthwild recently posted…“D” Is For DreadMy Profile

    • I know, right? I’ve often laughed at how our blog is open to the whole world to see. Which is probably why I don’t rant or share personal stuff here, by default.

      Diaries do make one feel vulnerable. And therefore, kills spontaneity as we grow older.

      :-) Thank you for visiting! Off to see what “Dread” is all about!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Eco-LivingMy Profile

  33. Wrote a lot of diaries in my young days. Now my blog is my diary and my photographs are my diary. But yes, writing is very therapeutic.
    Suzy recently posted…Day 6 – Paying It ForwardMy Profile

  34. I never stuck to it.. Have taken up many times but given up after one page.. But after reading this I am kind of tempted to take it up once again..
    simple girl recently posted…AtoZchallenge – F for Fish fry…My Profile

  35. I love writing diary too but I opened by 2013 diary and I am clueless about what I blabbered!!! :O I think I have split personality when I write diary :P or may be what is in the diary is my true personality :P :D
    S(t)ri recently posted…Fair & Square – AToZ Challenge 2014 – Day6My Profile

  36. Something I was doing from school days… and reading them after years is going back to that moments…
    Sheethal recently posted…F is for …My Profile

  37. That Neil Gamain quote is superb!
    I read Anne Frank’s Diary during my teen years… that was decades ago… and it made a great impression on me… it would be interesting to re-visit that book now, as an adult…
    Michelle Wallace recently posted…N is for NotebookMy Profile