Diary or Journal

In yesterday’s post I made reference to having kept a diary as a child.  Diaries hold our lives in chronological order as we record events that happened today.  Much like a work diary that acts as a reference and record-keeping volume our personal diaries carry us along a continuum in a logical progression.  When I look back at my work diary it can tell me where I was on a certain day at what time,  with whom, what we discussed, the outcome and, if I’ve drawn the short straw, a list of things to do.  It’s objective and lacks emotion or reflection.  Basically it’s a log of events.

Writing Tools

On the other hand a journal focusses on our internal experiences, responses to situations, people and events and contains our perspective on whatever issue is to hand.  We are writing our mind as our thoughts tumble about and are tapped, or written, through our fingers and onto the page.  It provides a release and support our efforts to resolve conflict as we examine our thoughts.  My journal is the place where I’m the me that’s me when no-one else is around.

People have been carrying notebooks and pencils for aeons and recording tidbits of information, thoughts, observations and interesting snippets of gossip.  Winston Churchill used his notebook and his prolific writings are one of the legacies he left the world.

I love these excerpts from Anaïs Nin’s essay “On Writing,” 1947.

“The diary taught me that it is in the moments of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately. I learned to choose the heightened moments because they are the moments of revelation.”

“This diary is my kief, hashish, and opium pipe. This is my drug and my vice. Instead of writing a novel, I lie back with this book and a pen, and dream, and indulge in refractions and defractions… I must relive my life in the dream. The dream is my only life. I see in the echoes and reverberations, the transfigurations which alone keep wonder pure. Otherwise all magic is lost. Otherwise life shows its deformities and the homeliness becomes rust… All matter must be fused this way through the lens of my vice or the rust of living would slow down my rhythm to a sob.”



3 thoughts on “Diary or Journal

  1. Funny, as a girl I always aspired to keep a diary, as you define it, and invariably failed to maintain it, but journaling is instinct, like steam billowing from the pressure cooker.


    • I imagine our motives for having a diary were quite different when we were younger than they might be today. I tend to keep my diary for work, at work, and my journal(s) at home to hold my musings and mutterings.


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