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  • Diary Writing

How to Write a Diary

Last Updated: November 2, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Hyungbum Kang, MA, MSW, LCSW, MAC and by wikiHow staff writer, Amber Crain . Hyungbum Kang is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker based in Honolulu, Hawaii. With over a decade of experience, Hyungbum specializes in using an integrated therapeutic approach to treat ADHD, Anger Management, Depression, and other mental health and social work struggles. He received a Bachelor’s degree in English and Master’s degrees in Sociology and Social Work. Hyungbum earned an MBA from Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) and is working on his Doctor of Psychology from HPU. He is a member of the American Psychological Association, the International Honor Society in Psychology, the National Association of Social Workers, and the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,605,310 times.

Diaries are wonderful objects that allow you to discuss your emotions, record dreams or ideas, and reflect on daily life in a safe, private space. While there's no single, definitive way to write a diary, there are some basic tricks you can use to get the most out of your writing. If you aren't sure what to write about, using prompts like inspirational quotes can help get started on new entries.

Sample Diary Entries

how to writing diary

Brainstorming Topics

Step 1 Write about the events of your day.

  • Feel free to veer off into any topic you want as you're writing about the day's events.
  • For example, you could write about the English exam you took at school that day. Are you feeling good about the exam? Do you wish you had studied more? Are you nervous to receive your grade?

Step 2 Contemplate your goals...

  • For example, you could write about short-term goals like studying for your algebra exam or hitting the gym for a cardio session.
  • Long-term goals would be stuff like choosing and applying to colleges or saving up money to buy a car.

Step 3 Jot down your...

  • For example, if you're feeling sad, you can write a diary entry about why you feel that way and any events that may have contributed.
  • You can add a line from the lyrics of a song you are often listening to in your entry to preserve the current mood.

Step 4 Write down inspirational quotes and what they mean to you.

  • For example, you might write down a quote like, "The secret of getting ahead is getting started," which came from Mark Twain. Write a diary entry about what this means to you and what things you need to get started on to achieve certain goals.

Step 5 Explore your favorite...

  • For example, if you love sports, write about why you love a certain sport, your favorite teams, and personal goals you have if you play any sports yourself.
  • If you love painting, you could write about your favorite painters, the painting styles that speak to you the most, recent paintings you've made, and ideas for future paintings.

Creating Personal Entries

Step 1 Write the date in the corner or on the first line.

  • If you like, you can also put the time, day of the week, and your location alongside the date.

Step 2 Begin each entry with a topic in mind.

  • Once you start writing, you're free to veer off into any subject you like! But having something in mind when you start the entry can help kickstart the writing process.

Step 3 Open with

  • For example, you might write something like, "I'm worried about volleyball tryouts this week. I've practiced a lot and I feel ready, but I'm so nervous I can hardly eat."

Step 5 Be honest...

  • For example, you might write, "I feel jealous of Shaun's new car. I'm happy for him, but it seems really unfair that his parents bought him a brand new car. I'm working every day after school just to save up for a used car."
  • If you're afraid someone will find and read your diary, there are things you can do to prevent this. Physical diaries with locks and password-protected digital diaries are two of the most popular ways to control privacy.
  • Many people have epiphanies about themselves and their relationships through honest diary writing. Be open to learning about yourself as you write.

Step 6 Don't worry too much about grammar and spelling.

  • For some people, it helps to take a few minutes at the beginning of each entry to simply free write.

Step 7 Use lots of details to preserve moments in time.

  • Detailed writing isn't for everyone, so don't feel like you have to write long, wordy sentences. If you find it easier to express your emotions in short bursts or even bullet points, feel free to do that.

Getting into a Routine

Step 1 Choose a specific time each day to write in your diary.

  • For example, you might choose to write in your diary every night right before bed.
  • Don't set an unrealistic schedule for yourself. If writing every day seems out of reach, plan on writing entry 3 times a week instead.

Step 2 Keep your writing sessions short in the beginning.

  • For example, you could write a few key bullet points in your diary when you're pressed for time.
  • Setting an intimidating schedule for yourself could be counterproductive. You want journaling to be an outlet, not a chore, so go easy on yourself.
  • Pick a time to write when you don't have other obligations or time constraints.

Step 3 Use illustrations if you prefer drawing to writing.

  • Quick drawings may also help you get down something that you want to remember but don't have time to write about.

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

  • Writing a diary should be a cathartic experience and not a chore. Allow yourself to enjoy your writing! Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • To camouflage your diary, write "Algebra Notes" or "School Notebook" on the cover. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

how to writing diary

You Might Also Like

Hide Your Diary

  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-use-journaling-to-set-goals
  • ↑ https://positivepsychology.com/writing-therapy/
  • ↑ https://penzu.com/how-to-start-and-write-a-diary
  • ↑ https://www.readingrockets.org/topics/writing/articles/journal-writing
  • ↑ https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/z2yycdm/articles/zmmj7nb
  • ↑ https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1

About This Article

Hyungbum Kang, MA, MSW, LCSW, MAC

If you're not sure what to write about in your diary, try to take the pressure off by reminding yourself that your diary is for your eyes only. Start each entry with the date and remember to write in the first person using "I" statements. You can write about stuff that happened that day, a problem you're having, a recent dream, or anything else you want. Be honest, use plenty of detail, and don't worry too much about grammar and spelling. For tips on choosing the best diary for you, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Diary Guide

  • How To Start and Write a Diary

A diary is a private place where you can keep your thoughts, feelings and opinions on everything from work to school and everywhere in between. There are all different types of diaries, like food diaries , health diaries or academic diaries . But your diary doesn’t have to be specific if you don’t want it to be, it can also just be a place where you write about whatever you want. If you’re just getting started, maybe you haven’t decided what you want to write about, and that’s fine. That is what we are here for – to help you with all those moments of writer’s block you may be having. Our tips can help guide you and inspire you. Let’s begin!

How to Start a Diary

To start a diary, all you need is a willingness to write. Start by figuring out what you want to write in your journal. If you aren’t sure, simply start writing and see where that leads. It can also be useful to set a time limit in your early writing sessions. Set an alarm for 10 to 20 minutes and start writing.

Keeping a diary is a great way to record your growth and personal development. More entries will allow you to look back and see what has changed over time. The earlier you start, the more grateful you will be later on.

8 Tips When Starting a Diary

Writing can be hard and getting started is usually the hardest part. If you feel like you don’t know how to write a diary entry, don’t stress over it. You can start writing about anything. You can even write about how you can’t think of anything to write. Once you start getting words out, they will start to flow naturally.

1. Decide to write

First, you need to decide you want to start a diary. Once you have decided you want to dedicate time to creating a diary, starting one will be easy.

2. Decide what to write

This is definitely the hardest part when writing a diary, but it is probably the most important. If you want your diary to be specific, decide what topic you would like to discuss during your entries. You can create multiple diaries for different topics, or just have one diary that has everything. Generally, diaries are personal and private thoughts, but they can also be a great way to keep track of personal musings on anything you would like:

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but if you would rather keep your diary more general, it is totally up to you!

3. Create a schedule

Starting a diary requires that you write in it frequently, but it is up to you to decide how frequently you want to write in it. Whether it be once a day or once a week, create a schedule that you can adhere to. The more you can make writing in your diary a part of your routine, the more comprehensive and helpful a practice it will become.

When you have decided what you want write in your diary, decide on a writing schedule that is appropriate for the topic. For example, if you want your diary to be general, maybe you want to decide to write in it at a certain time everyday, like right before you go to bed. If you want your writings to be more specific, like about food, maybe you will write in it every time you cook or find a new recipe. Make your schedule work for you and your topic.

4. Set a time limit

It is easy to get carried away and write too much when diary writing. A way to stay concise and on track is to set a time limit for your writing. Depending on how much you want to write, set a time limit that reflects that. Somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour is ideal. If you feel like you want to spend more time than that, feel free.

5. Date your entries

The great thing about a diary is that you are able to look back through it and see how you have progressed over time. It is important to date every entry you write. Luckily, Penzu dates your entries automatically.

6. Create an introductory entry

For your first diary entry, try to write an introduction to what your diary will be about. Introduce yourself, what things interest you, what you think it important and what you want this dairy to be about. Open up and be yourself.

7. Act like you’re writing to a trusted friend

Wondering how to write a diary entry? The best way to write is as if you’re talking to your best friend. This is your personal diary, for your eyes only, so you should feel comfortable writing as if you’re talking to a trusted companion. As cliché as “Dear Diary” may sound, it can really lead you in the write direction in terms of the tone you should be writing in. The goal of a diary is to discuss things honestly and candidly, as if you were talking through them with a best friend or family member.

8. Have fun!

Writing in your diary should never be a chore or a burden, so remember to have fun with it. It can be a place of solace, a place of creativity, a place of reflection, a place where your thoughts can roam free. When starting a diary, make sure you are writing about things you care about and are passionate about because. As long as you enjoy what you’re writing and the process of it, you will never miss an entry!

Writing Diary Entries

Diary entries can be long. They can be short. They can be specific. They can be broad. Whatever type of diary you decide to write should relate to the entries within it.

Your diary entries should be shorter narratives, and here are 8 tips to consider when writing entries:

1. Brainstorm what you’re going to write about

Take a few minutes before you begin writing to decide what you’re entry is going to be about. Hopefully you have already decided what your diary is about, so dig a bit deeper into the topic or topics you have decided to focus on and get specific.

2. Ask yourself questions

To get yourself writing, ask yourself questions:

  • What did you learn today?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What do you want to fix?
  • How are you feeling?

These can relate to your general life, or specific parts of it, but turn inward and ask yourself things.

3. Write down your answers

Your diary entry can be your answers to the questions you have asked yourself. This is a great way to get writing when you don’t know what to write about.

4. Pick a format

Your entries can be in all different types of formats, depending on what you’re writing about. Maybe you are making a list of things you want to accomplish in your future. Maybe you’re writing about a conversation you had, or wish you had. Maybe your entry is just bullet points of thought you have had that day. Some people prefer writing in short notes, others like writing in detailed paragraphs. Decide what you enjoy most and go for it.

5. Make them different

Try and have a variety of different entries, so you don’t get bored. You may be writing about a certain type of topic, but you never want to write the same entry. Differentiating your entries will also highlight progresses you’ve made and things you have learned.

6. Don’t be hard on yourself while you’re writing

Your diary is a judgement-free zone, so don’t feel like they need to be perfect. Let the words flow.

7. Keep your thoughts in order

Your entries date themselves, so you know when you write what, but also try and keep your thoughts in order. Your diary will become a journey as you add more entries, try to keep the narrative something you can follow. For example, try to write about events in the sequence they happened. Avoid jumping around.

8. Get your creative juices flowing

Your entries don’t just have to be words, Penzu also let’s you add pictures. Adding some visuals to your entries will add some colourful and vibrant reminders.

To Write a Diary Entry with Penzu

Penzu offers easy-to-use diary software , so you can create a digital diary that can be accessed anywhere.

  • Go to Penzu.com to create a free account.
  • Create a login and password you will easily remember.
  • Design your online diary to reflect your personality and your diary’s topic.
  • Give your journal a meaningful name.
  • Adjust your privacy setting to suit your preferences.
  • Choose ‘New Entry’ and begin writing!

Tips for New Journal Writers

Is this your first time keeping a diary? Don’t worry. There is a first time for everything. Here are some things to help you get the ball rolling:

Get excited

Look forward to starting a diary. It is both a fun and productive habit.

Reflect on yourself, the people around you and what you believe is most important. Once you look back, then you can move forward.

Unstructured writing is probably the best way to start writing. Once you get into the habit of keeping a diary, you will then feel more comfortable with structure.

Keys To Successfully Writing a Diary

A diary is a personal journey and should not be compared to any other writings, but here are a few way you can get the most out of your experience.

Your diary is for your eyes only, so be honest with yourself. Don’t hide anything or hold back.

Be frequent

The more often you write, the better.

Don’t try to write a certain way, just be yourself.

Like we said in the beginning, the earlier you start keeping a diary, the more grateful you will be later on, so sign-up with Penzu today!

There's no time like the present - start your free online journal today!

Penzu Mobile Phone apps

Loved by millions!

Get access to your diary wherever you are – download the free Penzu app for your all of your iOS and Android devices today!

Penzu Apple App Store link

Diary Basics

What is a Diary?

What are Diary Entries?

Diary Types

Diary Software

Diary Template

Digital Diary Guide

Ideas for Diaries

  • School Diary

Unlike printed diaries, which we agree are pretty “bleh”, electronic school diaries are much more customizable and some have multiple categories pre-set for you.

Food diaries are an excellent way to track what you're eating.

Academic Diary

An academic diary can take some the stress and hassle out of your life by making sure you manage your responsibilities for school better.

Write about your work experiences to reflect on your professional life to track your day-to-day work, consider career opportunities, set milestones, and achieve your goals.

  • Health Diary

A health diary is not just a list of medical readings and calorie counts. It is a way to record feelings, goals, activities, surrounding events, and results for any particular area of health.

  • Free Signup
  • Journal Prompts
  • What is a Journal
  • Pregnancy Journal
  • Reflective Journal
  • Bible Journal
  • Dream Journal
  • Journal Examples
  • Five Year Journal
  • Secret Diary
  • Electronic Diary
  • Diary Templates
  • Wedding Diary

Copyright Penzu Inc. 2023

  • How to Start and Write a Diary

Diaries are a private record of entries which describe what happened over the course of the day or another, free from outside judgement and criticism. It is something private and personal and a place where you can write about anything that comes to mind. There are different types of diaries like travel diaries , health diaries, food diaries and more. But if you are looking for one with collective ideas, or maybe you have yet to decide what you want to write, read our guide to write a diary find out more.

Top view of open calendar planner with modern office stationery.

Tips to Start a Diary

Woman reading note diary on bed breakfast morning.

1. Decide what to write

In a diary , you can also first create a ‘content page’ which lists the different topics that you want to cover in your diary. Some of which could be: Travel, Food, Health, Sports, Fashion, Academic/Work, Relationships with others and Sports. But if you want a separate diary for a specific topic, you can do so and consider putting a summary in your main diary instead.

2. Create a schedule

By setting a specific time of the day to write down your diary entries, it will help you to establish a routine which you are likley to stick to. However, it is up to you to decide on the frequency! The more you make writing in your diary a part of your routine, the more helpful a practice it will become. Remember to set a time frame before you write so that you don’t get too carried away. Depending on the topics that you wish to discuss, we suggest for the time frame to be between 30 minutes to an hour.

3. Writing your first Diary Entry

Before writing your first paragraph, remember to date your entries so that it is easier for you to find a specific one in the future. For your first entry, write an introduction on the purpose of the diary as well as your planned writing schedule.

If you are still unsure about how to write a diary entry, check out our article on diary entries for a more detailed write up which addresses questions such as what a diary entry is and how to write one.

4. Write like you’re writing to a friend

Two beautiful young twins sisters spending time together with pillows.

Diaries are personal, so don’t worry about anyone peeping into them and just be honest when you write. Treat your diary as a trusted friend or family member and discuss things honestly.

Tips for new Journal Writers

If this your first time keeping a diary, don’t be afraid because there is always a first time for everything! Diary writing could be a FUN thing to do, and is also useful as it allows you to discuss and reflect on certain activities. But also don’t be too fixated on how to write a journal and let your creativity flow, don’t restrict yourself. Free writing is probably the best way to start writing.

Keys to Successfully Write a Diary

Pretty woman happy and relax to write reflective diary on her bed.

While diary writing isn’t a competition, if you want to write a successful diary, remember to always be honest with yourself, don’t hold back and just write whatever is in your mind. Stick to the schedule that you have set for yourself and be natural. The diary is yours and yours alone, so don’t write in anyone else’s tone but your own.

Over 100,000 5-star reviews

Get access to your diary wherever you are – download the free Journey app for your all of your iOS and Android devices today!

Understand what a journal is, and it's functions

Understand how journal entries can serve your mental health

Your guide to understanding how you can benefit from journaling

Explore the various journal types to serve your needs

Your guide to starting your very own journal today

Journaling prompts to guide you along your reflection

Your guide to understanding and starting a diary of your own

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Tips and tricks to start your very own diary today

Your guide to the many diary types you can explore

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Simple and effective templates to help you start writing and reflecting

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Keep a log of all your daily meals to ensure a balanced nature diet.

Focus on the positive things in your live.

Write one line a day for the next five years.

A bible journal is one that holds your thoughts and reflections after a religion class and feelings that concerns life.

Record your dreams on a regular basis and keep track of the dream's themes and patterns.

Document your adventures, road trips, places that you have visited, and discoveries that you made along the way.

A self-reflective journal helps you to create your life with intention.

Cultivating inner strength and resilience using stoic journal.

Write a personalized experience of your pregnancy journey.

Equip yourself with on a journey towards improving your sleep

Streams of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning.

A way to organize your time and your life

Create your own faithful digital planning companion

Find the planner for you

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How to write a diary

7 Tips On How To Write A Diary

We all remember hiding that little locked book under our mattress or in our sock drawer as a preteen, but now we are older and this is a new age. The 2023 diary should be different than that one you had in your youth. It is an older journal or diary for your own use. Even though your diary may never been seen by anyone there are still some tips and tricks to keeping a diary, especially an online one.

Writing a diary is easy. There a no hard rules you have to follow, and you simple write whatever comes to your mind as you write. But, over the years we have experienced what kind of diaries that engages it's owners, and makes them a helpful and interesting asset in their lives. Here we will try go give a short guide on what topics a diary entry might contain. That said, remember THERE ARE NO RULES.

If you are somebody who keeps a written diary about your recent life and the changes that have occurred, then you may be acutely aware of just how difficult it can be at times to actually make a quality diary post. It can take a considerable amount of time, and you don't want to write a load of nonsense that you aren't even sure fits the purposes of a diary!

A diary is purely your thoughts and feelings on any subject that takes your fancy. Remember, though, that in time you will be looking back on these writings and you may want to share them with others, so making sure they make sense and can actually be read by others is very important!

Taking that little bit of extra time to really record your thoughts and to dissect your thoughts properly can make a significant difference to the outcome of your writing. If you are struggling to come up with quality, unique insights that actually relate to how you feel and see the world, then try out these tips below.

1. Be Honest

When you are writing a diary entry, give the full story of your opinions, thoughts and fears. Really open up and let your feelings pour onto the page - holding back helps nobody.

2. Be Detailed

Think of it like a book - is it better when the description goes on and on and on? Or is it better when you are left to your own imagination? Picking the most insignificant details and adding them in is very important as you don't want to leave any stone unturned when trying to turn your diary from the ramblings of an angry individual to the structures theories and arguments of a modern member of society, do you?

3. Spell Check

If you are writing this then you need to go through for entries to find poor grammar, punctuation and spelling. Even the most diligent of minds will mess up every now and then, so look out for any little errors that crop up as you are writing each and every entry no matter how small or irrelevant.

Its a good idea to always include the date when you wrote the entry. Note: this is not the same as the date for the event or experience your are writing about. If you write about something that happened some days ago, you can either back-date the entire entry, or include the date inside the text itself.

5. Giving your entry a title

Its easier to scan through your notes later, if you include a short and descriptive subject for your daily entries. If not, It will just look like a "pile of notes", hard to navigate in.

6. Write short entries

Most people start out by writing long diary entries, even many pages, containing thousands of characters. Our experiences is that the most successive diaries are made up of short notes. It's not even required to write in it every day. Once or twice a week, is enough for some people. The avg. length of a diary entry is 450 characters long.:

"My family have been on a visit. They have been staying over for 2 nights, and we made a super delicious dinner today. Yesterday we barbecued. Last week I was in Florida for a 3 day holliday (from 5th to 7th). The whole class went, and we participated in a photo study course. I learned a lot. Now its time to sleep. Good night! Note: My family have been on a visit. They have been staying over for 2 nights, and "the bear" went crazy!"

That was 429 chars, close to an average diary entry. Another example: Many write about the training and fitness activity like this:

"5 pushups, run 10 min, walk 10 min, 3x15 sit-ups."

That's all! It doesn't need to be more complicated than that :-)

7. Don't worry if you can't add to it every day

You are not committed to write in your diary every day only because you have a diary. Add to it whenever you feel, skip a day, skip a week, it does not matter. Whats important is that you do add to it from time to time. But the more often, the more fun afterwards.

Some final diary tips

  • Any habit will be difficult to start and maintain if it's hard to do. You have to start it and keep up with it. You have to find a way to write that works for you, that is your style. You should use what works for you. If you like where you're writing then you will enjoy it more and be more motivated to write in your diary.
  • When you're writing in your journal, it's important to just write whatever you feel like, without worrying about who might be reading. Simply writing 100% honestly about your feelings or your ideas can help you work through them. This diary is for you. It is to help you remember. It is for you to share if you want to. It is yours and you should be able to write as you see fit.
  • Keeping a daily journal is, obviously, one of those habits that requires daily effort. Starting and keeping a daily habit can be very difficult, especially these days when so much in our lives is chaotic and unstructured. Try to schedule a time each day to sit down and write. It takes time to develop a habit so stick with it.
  • If you have missed a few days in your journal, don't worry - and certainly don't give up! Just fill in the gaps as best you can as soon as you can. Even a short diary entry is better than nothing, and the longer a day stays empty, the harder it is to remember what happened. If you don't have time to go into great detail, even making a simple bullet pointed list can help recall what happened when you have the time to elaborate on the day.
  • While writing in a diary can be good for your mental health today, the greater value comes after you've been writing for a while and you can look back on what you've written earlier. Journal entries are like a letter to your future self, and reading back on your past is a great way to get perspective on your life. Writing in your diary can help you recall when momentous occasions happened. You might not realize how important they were until later on. By writing about these events in your diary, you can recall it in great detail whenever you want to remember it.

Your online diary can be about anything from a workout log or diet diary to a travel diary from your trip abroad. It is yours and the world is your canvas!

More info on how to write a diary entry

Read this great guide on how to write and keep your diary effective and fun: http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Diary .

13 steps to become a diary writer. " My Diary Poem " written by Artificial intelligence

How to write a diary entry — 5 tips for beginners

How to write a diary entry — 5 tips for beginners

If you’re new to keeping a diary and are finding yourself challenged with where to begin, try one of these tips, or several of them! One of the best things you can do when you’re starting something new is to be flexible with yourself and allow yourself to try several different avenues.

1. Try a similar prompt each time

Some diary apps, like Diarly, allow you to make customized templates for each new journal entry. Some people find that creating prompts for yourself to answer each day can be helpful in establishing a jumping off point for that day’s reflection. For example, you may ask yourself the following questions each day:

  • What did I do today?
  • What was one emotion I experienced during the day today? What prompted it?
  • What is something I learned today?
  • What is something I hope for tomorrow?

By answering the same questions each day, you’ll give yourself some structure with which to get into the practice of writing regular diary entries. Over time, you may find that you are so adept at reflecting through your writing that you don’t need to continue to use the same prompts. If that’s the case, that’s fine! Use the structure for as long as you feel like you need it, and be willing to adjust. The most important thing about a journaling practice is that it works for you.

2. Try a different prompt each time

The opposite of #1, this tip will allow you to explore something new every day. Some people are intimidated by not knowing what to write, whereas others are intimidated by having to write the same exact thing every day. If that sounds like you, it might help to have a different question you’re answering every day. You may think about asking, over the course of a week:

  • What was the biggest thing that happened in my day? What activity dominated my time, or what issue dominated my thoughts?
  • What is something that I would enjoy doing but I haven’t made the time to do? How would doing it make me feel? What would I need to set into motion to make it possible to do it?
  • Think about one person in your life who made a difference for you. Write about that person. Who are they? How do you know them? What did they help you achieve?
  • What is a decision you were recently faced with making? How did you decide what to do? What was the result of that decision?
  • If you had to change one thing about how your day went today, what would it be? What do you think that change would result in?
  • If there was one thing you could be sure would happen tomorrow if you just wished hard enough, what would it be?
  • What was the best thing that happened to you today? Why did it happen? How did it make you feel?

3. Challenge yourself to be as honest as you can possibly be

A diary is all about working through your innermost thoughts and feelings. When you are just starting with a diary practice, however, it can sometimes feel unnatural to be open and honest with your feelings. What if someone reads them? If you’re using a digital diary in a computer, iPad, or iPhone app, you can password protect your diary, which should alleviate some of your concerns. Still, it can be difficult to wrap your mind around the concept of being totally open and honest right out of the gate.

It may help to challenge yourself to admit to one or two thoughts you’re having each entry. Remember, you’re only admitting these things to yourself, but putting them into your diary may be cathartic. If you feel yourself starting to avoid telling a truth to yourself through your diary entry, pause and recognize that feeling, and dig deeper. Release the truth into the diary entry, and feel good about it every time it happens. It means you’re making progress in your practice.

4. Write with abandon

At least once in your early diary-writing days, give yourself this assignment: for ten minutes, I am going to type literally every thought that comes to my mind, without trying to make sense of it or find any narrative or storytelling structure in it. As people, it’s in our nature to want to tell structured stories. But there is also value in allowing ourselves to express in a stream of consciousness. Letting yourself record a stream of thought for a certain period of time can be a really fulfilling exercise, and it can also fill the pages quite quickly. As long as you’re typing the whole ten minutes, words will come.

5. Don’t give up

If you find yourself sitting in front of your diary and you feel like you have nothing to say, don’t close the diary for the day. Doing so won’t get you to where you want to be, which is a daily diary writer who feels the benefits of journaling. Instead of giving up, write about the feeling of wanting to, and let that reflection take you wherever it wants to go next. Chances are, you’ll end up reflecting on something else, and in turn, you’ll be well on your way to creating a diary entry.

Diarly is secure, simple & beautiful. Start your digital journal today!

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik is a journalist, essayist, and fiction writer based in Vermont. You can read her writing on her website.

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Writing Diary Entries

Writing Diary Entries

If you are asked to write a diary/journal entry in the exam, then you will not normally be asked to write an entry that is personal to you and has occurred in real life. Instead, you will be required to write a fictional (imaginary) diary/journal entry. The appropriate layout for a diary entry will consist of:

  • Giving each diary/journal entry a day and a date.
  • You can begin your diary/journal entry with the phrase ‘Dear Diary’ if you wish, although this is not compulsory.
  • Describing what has happened that day and reflect on your thoughts and feelings of the day’s events.
  • If writing a number of diary entries, link them by developing the different events occurring in that day/week.

Woman writing in diary

An example of how a diary entry may be laid out in the exam has been provided:

Plan the contents of the entry using short, brief bullet points – remember, spend no longer than five minutes planning. Diary entries are not normally told chronologically (writing down the events in the order in which they occurred in time) so your entry might sound something like this:

As you can see from the example above, ‘on my way to the shop’ is the first action that has occurred in actual time but it is not written like this in the diary entry. Diary entries are not normally told chronologically (writing down the events in which they occurred) and normally have a ‘chatty’ style. Notice the interjection ‘oh’ that is included in the above example (this is an informal element of English that is normally found in speech). A diary entry can be more informal than any other piece of writing because these entries are private pieces of writing that are much more personal than anything else you will be required to write in the exam. The personal nature of the writing requires you to write informally; however, remember not to use any slang and keep any colloquial language to a minimum as you are being assessed on your English skills in the exam.

You may also notice that it is written in the first person. In a diary/journal entry you will either be writing about yourself, or as a character that is writing about themselves. This means that you will need to add some characterisation into your writing. You can do this using certain features; for example, the character above is excitable and this is shown through their frequent use of exclamatives (‘!’). The entry provided includes recorded speech rather than direct; this is a common feature for a diary entry (we will discuss this and characterisation in much more detail in Unit 4 of this course).

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