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In defence of diary writing

Why bother writing if no one is going to read it? What do you even write about? The answer is, you can write whatever you want. Your diary belongs only to you.

Keeping a diary lets you express yourself freely. Without the distraction of likes and comments, you won’t have to worry about how others might react. When you put other people out of the equation, you can truly be honest with yourself.

Writing can help you out of a rut when you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Doing a brain dump — writing whatever that’s in your head frees up your mind to solve problems and hash out ideas.

Your diary can be an outlet. Angry-tweeting about the driver who cut you off in traffic might make you feel vindicated, but you wouldn’t feel any better the next time you had a bad day. Writing a diary allows you to reflect privately and in my own time.

You don’t have to perfect your diary for public consumption like you do with a blog post. Write about your dreams and fears, no matter how silly they may seem. A diary doesn’t have to be coherent . One of my entries simply reads (in all caps no less),

MAKE THE DECISIONS
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
GET TO ITS HEART
KILL IT

It might take a few attempts before writing comes easily to you. The place to start is with easy writing prompts.

  • Write a list of things that inspire you — books, films, even paintings
  • Write about a struggle you recently overcame, and give yourself due credit
  • Write about your earliest memory as a child
  • Write about all the nicknames people have given you
  • Write a letter you’d never send in real life

Writing is the best way to learn about yourself. Keeping a diary is the place to start.

Everything has to start somewhere

My partner once asked me, “What would you do if you weren’t a designer?”

I thought for a while. I wasn’t particularly good at writing, nor had I much experience doing it professionally. I just liked it.

“I’d be a writer.”

Last October, I promised myself I would write every single day for the rest of my life. Writing gave me clarity, helped me flesh out ideas, and made me more confident running my own business. I stopped writing after getting a day job. I didn’t have the time for such trivial tasks.

It has been ten years since I ran a blog of my own. 2017 was a difficult year that forced me to reexamine every facet of my life. The prospect of writing in public feels equal parts daunting and cathartic. I wanted to get it out there, but I also wanted to get it just right. If there was anything I was more afraid of than people, it was their opinions. I had to force myself to ignore the end product, throwing myself into the process.

I delved into unfinished books on writing. I signed up for courses and workshops. I dusted off my trusty Nikon and charged the batteries. I picked up the habit of writing daily, hoping for the same clarity it had given me in the past.

It wasn’t quite as eye-opening this time around — after all, it wasn’t clarity I needed, but focus. I wrote 16000 words in November, more than I had written all year. Finally, I scheduled my first post for the 3rd of December 2017. Today.

I might never get my blog right. But I could get it written.

Everything has to start somewhere. I’m starting here.