Wednesday, December 30, 2009

6 Tips to Get You Writing in Your Diary Every Single Day (and keep it interesting!)

photos courtesy of peregrine blue and creative commons
My Mom raised me to appreciate the written word. She got me reading difficult books early on, and tried to get me to write by buying me pretty little diaries and pens. I, however, could not be motivated to write in a diary. But that didn’t stop her from trying; she even went so far as to pay me to write in them regularly. $5 per seven entries. I tried to be smart and do all seven entries at once, but she was on to me.

Lots of people have trouble writing on a set schedule, especially for something as personal as a diary. I have friends that can fill up an entire book in less than a month without so much as a stutter on the page, but others (like myself) need a bit of a push.

1. Write when the mood strikes; don’t try to force it. It can be helpful to set aside a specific time to do your daily writing if you know you will always have that time available and you can flip the inspiration switch. Otherwise, this can backfire on you, and you may find yourself staring at the page, pen poised, with nothing to say and frustration creeping in. Instead, just keep your diary close at hand, and write in it when you want to.

2. Don’t try to make everything you write important. If the mood steadfastly ignores you, sit down for a minute before going to bed and jot down something. Anything, it doesn’t matter what. Write a list of places you want to visit, copy down, verbatim, a conversation you had, or write about how you suspect your downstairs neighbor is breeding monkeys in his apartment. Just write something.

3. Write about something specific, an idea, or a particular event rather than cataloguing your day. Instead of “This morning my alarm went off at 6:00, I got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, brushed my hair, folded my towel, walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge….,” pick a particular incident to write about, and write about it engagingly and in detail. Like the old lady that pushed you aside and took the last grapefruit in the produce section. Or the kids painting graffiti a mural. Or the gorgeous wallpaper you saw through the window of a stranger’s house. It’s often the little moments that seem innocuous that stay with you throughout the day. Writing about these episodes can help solidify that day in your memory, and help you to remember it’s unique color.

4. Keep beautiful tools. It’s safe to say I have a biased opinion because I make diaries, but I really believe it’s important to have a journal that inspires you. Of course, you can write on scrap envelopes if that’s all you have, but investing in a diary that’s you will go a long way towards keeping you motivated. Same goes for your writing utensils. Using a nice, quality pen (not a pencil, it will fade!) helps to remind you of the value of your writing.

5. Let your mind and your style wander. Don’t try to maintain the same style throughout your diary; it will change with your mood. Write how you feel. If that means stream-of-consciousness, or a rant, or a short story complete with beginning, middle and end, then go with it.

6. Check your guilt and pressure at the door. You are not obligated to finish anything! Don’t think that you can’t start writing about something because you won’t have time to finish it. Diaries reflect lives; they evolve, shift, abandon old ideas in favor of the new, and can double back to pick up a previously deserted thread.

Check back for the next article in this series: Beyond Chronology: New Ways to Organize Your Diary (if you must be organized!)

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j.b. said...

I've been keeping a journal/diary since the age of 9 or so. Wow! That's a long time and a LOT of paper! And even though I pretty much NEVER run out of stuff to write about, these were VERY helpful tips. Especially the one about keeping pretty tools. I have an amazing journal and a brand-new fountain pen that I just love. So, it really does help to make the writing process fun.

au revoir,

Dawn Herring said...

The fascinating aspect about keeping a journal is the variety of approaches you can take, whether it's the frequency, what you write about, or if you choose to simply write or get more creative using art and scrapbooking techniques.
I highly recommend the practice of journal writing, no matter what approach you choose. I've kept a journal for over 20 years with almost 40 volumes. I enjoy the daily evening entry, and I miss it if I don't have the time.
Thanks for this post. :)
Dawn Herring
JournalWriter Freelance

ArtoftheDiary said...

jb, Thanks! Yep, you sound like this friend I have who is a journaling machine. I was always jealous of her dedication. :)

ArtoftheDiary said...

Dawn, Thanks for your comment! You're right, there's as many ways to keep a journal as there are people with a pen and paper. It really is fascinating. :)

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