Benefits of Writing in a Diary or Journal

This is a law school diary from 1867-1870 that was written by Barnaby's the great great grandfather, William Viers Bouic .
This is a law school diary from 1867-1870 that was written by Barnaby's the great great grandfather, William Viers Bouic . | Source

When my high school English teacher required journal writing in her class, I had a big decision to make. You see, had already been writing in my diary for many years by then, and I wasn't sure I would be up to writing daily entries in two different places.

Would ignoring my diary for the duration of the class strip me of the benefits I was receiving by writing in it? The teacher assigned different prompts for her journal, while I could write whatever I wished in my diary. I didn't think I could do both, so I decided that the diary would have to wait.

As I grew older, I got out of the practice of writing in a diary, but I feel and felt the residual benefits of writing in one. I wrote in an online diary until the site closed down, and then switched to blogging.


What are the benefits of writing in a journal or diary? There are so many benefits that it is impossible to enumerate all of them for you. Here is an outline of a few of them:

Practicing Communication Skills

One of the most basic benefits about writing in a diary or journal is that you get practice writing. You learn how to move your hand to form words and, through practice, it becomes second nature. Your hands learn how to write more without getting tired.

You think about what you want to write, and commit yourself to pen and paper to write about them. Just thinking of topics is something that many writers struggle with today, and maybe the fact that I started so early is what helps me think of topics so readily.

You decide what order you want to put your words. Even when you are the only one who will be reading it, you still learn how to communicate in written form.

I read a study (wish I could remember where I saw it) that kids who write in daily journals do better in school, in all of their classes. I believe it, since communication skills are necessary in all classes. This is really a skill that will help you throughout your life.

Writing Journal on Amazon

Recording History

Farmers reported the weather and crops, with an occasional visit or birth in their journals. Just reporting basic observations help you keep track of new things you have learned or what your day is like. Sometimes these are helpful to help us remember what happened in the past. Is it really hotter this year? When was the last time I visited Aunt Martha? Just look at last year's journal entries and you will know.

You will want to record important dates, like births, marriages, deaths, people moving in and out of the town, family reunions, and anything else that you find worthy of mention. You may want to keep a record of the animals that have come in and out or your life, or cars.

Even now, we look at journals from previous centuries to glean important historical facts.

Reporting Findings

Lewis and Clark had to write in a journal to report the new finds they made along their trail. I keep a journal when I travel. These types of journals help us remember what happened and the order in which they happened.

Michelangelo kept a journal to report his insights and ideas. A scientist uses a scientific journal to report the results of experiments. An inventor outlines his trials and errors of his next great invention. All of these journals help put our insights into written form, and the act of putting them down into paper keeps them from being simple ephemeral ideas to something more concrete.

Companionship

Even though it is just pieces of paper, a diary provides comfort and companionship during lonely times. When you write "Dear Diary" you are writing to another entity, one that accepts you unconditionally with all your flaws. It will "hear" whatever you are willing to tell it. To a lonely soldier on tour of duty, or a high school student outcast, a journal provides a much needed friend.

This companion will patiently accept any thoughts or information, no matter how boring or mundane they may seem to the outside world. It will also accept minutia of your bodily functions and other things that are simply not proper to discuss with others.

Diary of 494 Sergeant Joseph Cecil Thompson, Gallipoli 1915
Diary of 494 Sergeant Joseph Cecil Thompson, Gallipoli 1915 | Source

Analyzing Difficult Issues

Taking the time to list the pros and cons of a situation, and making them more concrete, may help you make difficult decisions. Writing them down helps you organize them and think through them fully. Sometimes it isn't even the words you write down that will help you with your decisions. Sometimes your thoughts and your actions are what help guide you. Many times when I made a list of pros and cons, I found that one side had more than the other. As I struggled to add more to the other side, I realized that there was really a side I was favoring, and even though it was a shorter list, it still was the one I should choose.

Stress Relief

A diary is a great way to unburden your thoughts and find relief. It gets things off your chest and lets you say the things you want to say without any repercussions. I found that my diary was a great place to vent about all the injustices of adolescence.

Some people have a gratitude journal where they list the things they are thankful for everyday. Others keep track of their spiritual reflections. These types of journals add a calm respite to the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Diary Formats

If you want to write a diary, you have a choice of a variety of formats:

  • Sheets of paper bound in notebook
  • spiral notebook
  • Online diary
  • blog
  • pretty blank books
  • composition notebooks
  • fancy printed diaries

I prefer plain loose leaf paper which I keep together in those portfolios that are sold very cheaply at back-to-school time. This way, I can add to them, and they are just the number of pages need for the time period. There is no obligation to write every day, and no space limit on days I am really chatty. Plus, it avoids that "it's too pretty to mess up with writing" feeling.

Tracking Trends

Sometimes it helps to look through a diary to review recurring trends.

If you have a new baby, you may want to look through your old journals to see when her older sibling went through certain milestones so you can know what to expect. You may want to look through your journal to see when it is safe to put away the lawnmower for the winter.

Documentation

A diary or journal can be used in by the police, and maybe even in court, as evidence against a stalker, a bully, or an abuser. Since you can show your documentation of the incidents over time, you are more likely the details of the facts straight, and are more likely to be believed. When I had a foster child, the police asked for her diary to support her claim of abuse.

Creative Outlet

A journal or diary can help provide a creative outlet in an otherwise mundane life. In this case, a writer may choose to follow writing prompts, or write poems or short stories. Sometimes a journal is used to record inventions or quilt patterns or other craft ideas. Maybe it incorporates sketches, doodles, or quotations.

Boost Your Self Esteem

In the Answers section, Ms. Dora recommended keeping a journal with positive comments, compliments and reviews. You can record positive accomplishments, experiences and conversations. You can also include positive, cheerful or inspirational quotations.Then, when your morale is down, you can read these comments to boost your mood.

Medical Uses

When you review your record of your medical symptoms, you may find that your depression is cyclical, occurring each winter, or coincides with the menstrual cycle, or coincides with an anniversary of an event. Or you may want to find out when you first started having particular symptoms, and think through what was going on at that time to see if there are unresolved conflicts.

You may also record your children's health history. You can check to see whether you had the chicken pox or measles, or encountered any allergic symptoms to any medications. You can record their immunizations, and any accidents or broken bones.

Matron's diary of the voyage of the 'Fitzjames', 1856-57   Matron Susan Austen was chaperone to 98 single females on the 'Fitzjames' which arrived in Sydney on 1 April 1857.
Matron's diary of the voyage of the 'Fitzjames', 1856-57 Matron Susan Austen was chaperone to 98 single females on the 'Fitzjames' which arrived in Sydney on 1 April 1857. | Source

Monitor Goals and Track Progress

A diary is a great way to document their goals and monitor the results. A food journal and a weight loss journal are examples of this type of record keeping. Since you know you have to write it down, you may be less likely to indulge. When you feel like you are slipping, you can go back and see the progress you have made. You can see which efforts are working and which ones are in vain. A food diary keeps you honest and accountable.

You can record your ambitions and monitor your personal growth and steps you have taken towards your goals.

Get Published

Some people's diaries get published as they are, like Anne Frank's, while others, like Vinaya, are able to glean parts of them for publication. Just imagine, you can take your diary and publish it, as is, without editing or polishing. Your book is already written.

Notes for your Biography

Keeping detailed records of your life will be handy for writing your autobiography or biography. In addition, the entries can provide details and insight in writing short stories or other works of fiction.

Do You Keep a Diary or Journal

  • Yes, almost every day
  • Yes, from time to time
  • No, but you've convinced me
  • No, I don't have the time
See results without voting

Benefits of Keeping a Diary or Journal

There are so many benefits of keeping a diary or journal, and it is such a simple thing to start. Just grab a sheet of paper or notebook and start writing about whatever interests you. If you do that from time to time, you will find that you have a beautiful record of a very interesting person. You may just find out that you are much more interesting than you thought. And if you aren't, you may just be motivated to do something interesting so you can write about it. Oops, that was yet another reason to write in a diary or journal. The benefits keep going and going.

Oh and about my dilemma about writing in a journal for school or keeping my own diary, I wound up writing in both. My diary could not be abandoned all semester.

© 2012 Shasta Matova

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Comments: "Benefits of Writing a Diary or Journal" 45 comments

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA Author

OanaWriter, it is difficult to write every single day. I find that it is easier for me if I don't have that kind of expectation. Simply write when you can. I try to jot down a few lines at the beginning or end of each day. Making it a part of a routine does help. But even if you miss a lot of time, it is something you can pick up at any time. I wish you the best with your 2014 goal. Put it on your calendar and schedule it!


OanaWriter profile image

OanaWriter 2 years ago from London

Thanks for such an informative hub. I have been writing and quitting diaries for the past 10 years and today I couldn't regret it more. There is so many moments I wish I took note of, as we seem to forget some of the most special moments in life.

About a year ago I made a promise to myself that I will always keep a diary. I keep one on my smartphone and laptop, but I still struggle to write in it everyday. For 2014 the aim it to keep regular entries at least once a week.

Thanks again for a great and inspirational article!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Nellieanna - thanks for your additional insight. I am sure that your journal would provide documentation during legal issues.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

I've been a personal journal keeper for at least 32 years and my work in an Engineering department before that required 'leaving tracks'. For even longer, my poetry writing was continuous & had been a kind of diary for my own benefit and had the advantage of being very private!

It also turned out that the personal journal was an invaluable help when I was involved in a legal tangle; memory is never clear enough, but a journal is. That's just one other advantage or benefit.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Terrye. Blogging, although it is more public, doesn't feel like you're talking to yourself quite as much.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

I love having a journal and I've found that a blog is an extension of that. Great hub! Voted up and shared.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Princesz, writing in a journal is so cathartic - great idea to write about blessings, learning and adventures.


His princesz profile image

His princesz 4 years ago

I find journal writing important to me. I usually keep a journal with me, I write my blessings, my learning and my small adventures. ;) Great hub!


precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego

Yes, I was using Blogspot and it was set on private, so no one could come into it, or search it and read it. ^-^' I haven't thought of a locked box as I was always wanted a journal with a lock, like what I used to have before when I was in younger. But most I find on the store are kiddie journals. I had came across a journal with a lock before but I didn't like the design. Oh well, I'll just stick with BLogspot for now :) Thank for the info. I didn't know it can be printed into a book :)


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you precy anza. I know what you mean about people reading your journal or diary; it is very intriguing to others and they want to find out what you have said about them. Have you considered buying a locked box to keep your diary in? I was thinking about those fireproof safety boxes that are used to hold your valuables - your journal is valuable.

There are other diary sites that are still available online. You can set up a blog on Blogspot, and make it private so no one can read it. If you use that, you can even get it printed into a book through another service.

Another option is to write in a word processing document, and keep the information on a flash drive so you can carry it with you wherever you go.


precy anza profile image

precy anza 4 years ago from San Diego

I keep a journal, I like writing it down but for somehow I'm doing it online now, for the reason that I don't have to worry about people getting into my journal and reading it, unless I have a journal with a lock. But as you mentioned with yours, the site closed, which makes me think I should maybe just write it down again instead of going online. And with those mentioned, I do it for documentation and companionship: One journal for everything I'm not comfortable sharing with people, mostly worries and problems. And the other one if for things that happened to work. Voted up! :)


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you amvabecreations. I hope this inspires you to create your own journal.


amvabecreations profile image

amvabecreations 4 years ago from Netherlands

Wonderful hub! Thank you so much. I feel inspired! I love the pictures of the old diaries! I'm bookmarking this page for later use in writing about memory keeping etc. Would it be alright if I linked my article to this page?


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks ChristyWrites and rajan jolly for reading and commenting, voting and sharing. A journal is very helpful to get issues and emotions out of your system, and to remember things for your memoirs. Maybe someday I will be famous enough that people will want to publish my journals - remember Anne Frank's diary? We do tend to get busier as we get older and stop taking the time to write in them, but I highly recommend getting back in the practice. It is a great way to take time out for yourself.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

At one time, long time I did keep a written record of the daily happenings and my musings. Not anymore though. It certainly has so many wonderful uses and yes putting thoughts and incidents to paper keeps them fresh with the minutest of details.

Great write. I endorse it fully.

Voted up and all the way across. Shared too.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I have kept a journal in the past but do not regularly do so now. You are right that there are many benefits. Wow how great would it be to have some of the entries published one day?! Thanks for outlining these details and the hub is very well-written.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Paige. There are so many benefits to using a diary or a journal - I find they to be a great stress reliever, and lets me say those things that I know better than to say in person. And it is amazing how often I go back to help me remember what happened in the past.


Paige Ronchetti profile image

Paige Ronchetti 4 years ago from Chicago

This was so informative! I've never really been a journal/diary person for more than a few days at a time, but now I think I should give it a real shot.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

That's a great plan, Ardie - watching you journal is going to make them want to do it too. Did you tell them they can draw, doodle, or paint if they don't feel like writing? A journal is a treat, not a chore.


Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

I just bought three notebooks, one for each of my daughters to journal in throughout the summer vacation. They've been moaning and groaning about the plan buuuuut now I think I will join them in the assignment. I will keep a diary/journal along with my kids! Imagine that - teaching by example. I love it :)


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks EyesStraightAhead - that is a great idea to have a specific day to go over your journals to see your progress and use them to determine your next goals. A great way to review the year.


EyesStraightAhead profile image

EyesStraightAhead 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

Love it! I am a journal writer. I aim for at least five minutes a day, but sometimes go over that drastically and other times miss a day. I love to "share" how my day was, what I am struggling with, what I am thankful for, what goals I am accomplishing, etc. Then on December 30th each year, I sit and read through the last year's worth of journals, sometimes more... It is a fun exercise in which I see how I have grown, where I am still in the same conflict, and where I simply need to throw on the big girl pants and move forward. I am a huge advocate of journaling. Wonderful read!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks kartika - I read your hub on art journaling, so I am anxious to start - just need to find the time!


kartika damon profile image

kartika damon 4 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

Millionaire, so glad to hear you have a sketchbook and plan to journal! Have fun - I plan to write some more on the subject, and can't wait to hear about your journaling experiences.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you kartika damon for your comment and voted. I bought a sketchbook so I can start art journaling, but I haven't started yet. It seems like a great prospect though.


kartika damon profile image

kartika damon 4 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

I'm an avid art journaling and use it as a creative outlet - you did a great job here! I gave you a vote. Thank you, Kartika


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you prairieprincess. I think writing online is a way to write a journal, since the topics do show you what you had in your mind during this time period. I'm sure writing a diary would include other topics that are too personal or too mundane to include on HubPages though.

Thank you cardelean, I think it is great that you have your students (and your children) create journals as well. I think the best part are the ordinary things, because it shows you what your "normal" is like. We can read about extraordinary things in the news, but it is the day to day life that is unique to you.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

We have our students create writers notebooks and they are to write in it daily. (I've actually written a hub about how we create them.) One of the things that we practice with them is fluency in writing. Often they complain that their hands get tired and so as one of our exercises, we strive to write anything that comes to our minds for a given duration of time. This helps them to build those muscles in their hands. We also teach them that even the ordinary things in their lives can be extraordinary and are worth writing about. My five year old daughter LOVES to write in her writers notebook. I give my son another year (he's almost four) and he'll be the same way. Writing is so important. Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts about journaling.


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

Oh MT, you have reminded me of my old habit. I have a diary or journal on and off for years but since starting online writing, have let journals go. I want to find a way to start again because I agree wholeheartedly with all of your reasons. Wonderful, wonderful hub! Voted all the ups and sharing.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Eric, thank you for reading and commenting. I have often wondered if I should throw out my old diaries. I mostly wrote when I was troubled, and hardly ever wrote during happier times.

Some of them were written when I was going through really rough times, and reading them is just depressing.

I worry about my family finding them after I am dead and reading negative things about them that I wrote when I was angry and venting. The diaries as a whole also show me as a very negative person, always complaining about everything, which really isn't the case. It was just due to my purpose for keeping one.


Eric Calderwood profile image

Eric Calderwood 4 years ago from USA

I kept a diary for a while in my teen years when I was having some rough transitions in life. Later, while sorting through my belongings before moving to a different state, I threw it out. I mentally kick myself sometimes for having done that. I wish I still had that diary to glean insights from that time in my life.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for your comment Aurelio. I find it very interesting to go back and read my former thoughts, and see how I have developed as a writer.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I used to keep a diary regularly though never looked back on them. I think it was more for catharsis than anything else. Voting this Up and Useful.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Vinaya and BlossomSB. It seems like so many of us have been keeping journals that I have added a poll to this hub. Congratulations on being published Vinaya. I will also add "get published" on the list. Blossom, I enjoy reading my old diaries - there are so many things I didn't remember about my past that come back when reading them.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Writing a diary or journal can be so helpful and is interesting to look back on in later years, too. A useful hub.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

I did not have a dream to become a writer but I started writing diary journal when I was a ninth grader. Few years later, some of the epigrams and scribblings from my journal were published, and then I began to see myself as a writer.

I quite enjoyed reading your opinion.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Denise, Ruchira, randomcreative and teaches12345. It looks like all of us are avid diary keepers, which completely makes sense for a writing site. We've gotten all sorts of writing practice. I am glad all of you can vouch for its effectiveness.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I keep a diary just to record my thoughts and for writing purposes. It does help with stress, as you listed in your hub. Wonderful suggestions on keeping a a journal.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I would click awesome here many times if I could! I have been writing in some sort of diary or journal pretty much ever since I could write. It has served all of these purposes at one point or another over the years.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

I agree Shasta. Writing a diary is a therapeutic since; it downloads your stress, while you write down what upsets you. Eventually, this diary could make you inspire write your biography 'cause you sure would be proud of all the achievements in your life...emotionally/career wise.

voted up indeed as interesting and useful and sharing it across!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

What a WONDERFUL hub-but, I'm a diary keeper from way back and advocate journaling as a tool to cope with for my patients.

I loved the historical photos of old diaries here. And the info is well presented, as usual.

I was thrilled this year when my 8 yo grandson received a leather bound journal for Easter. His sister has been writing for at least two years now in hers-she started age 10. Along with it they each got a quill pen and bottle of ink-how cool is that? Smart Easter Bunny.

As Marco showed me his 'treasure' I enthusiastically embraced his new adventure of journaling, explaining that "all of the great explorers kept track of their journey". He ate it up.

For me, it has been both a cathartic process and one of personal history keeping. My mother used to note the events of births and deaths in the family bible.

Thanks for the great hub this morning. Enjoy the rest of the w/e. :) Rated up and awesome.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks mbyL - I am glad you have noticed and benefited from the advantages of keeping a diary. I agree - it is interesting to read how we have changed over time.

Donna, thanks. I'm not sure how riveting my journals would be to the common person. I write pretty long posts. But I may use them to create a more coherent autobiography someday.

Thanks Hubert. I have written notes on random paper as well, especially my ideas for HubPages topics. I got a spiral notebook, and now limit myself to writing on those (or at least transferring my notes to them). I also don't write every single day - since it is my diary, there really aren't any rules. A blog works just fine. Write when you want, don't write when you don't want. Without imposing rules, you will be amazed at how free you actually are to record your thoughts. Actually when you think about it, writing on HubPages is also like a journal, with different prompts. We reveal quite a bit about ourselves here, and many of the benefits apply to our group of hubs.


Hubert Williams 4 years ago

Very interesting and informative hub. I have been unable to muster the discipline in all my life to manage a daily journal. I have made thousands of notes here and there and laid them close to where I wrote them, Most have never been seen since. I have not given up hope of accomplishing one someday. I do manage to write a blog which might as well be a private journal since no one has ever read the entries. Even that I write only a couple times a week. Hubpages is the main site where I write and people read. I thank all who read my words, and indulge my rhymes, and I thank you for writing this wonderful hub. voted up, usful and interesting.


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

Wonderful hub with some solid reasons for journaling! Maybe one day you will consolidate some of those journals into an awesome book (or several) as well:) Voted up for sure!


mbyL profile image

mbyL 4 years ago from Switzerland, Zurich

I have been writing one since 2007 now, when I was about 14 or 13. You made some very good points and in my opinion everyone should write a diary. There are already so many thoughts of mine manifested in it and it really helps for stress relief. Another interesting point could be how one changed over the years, since the handwriting yields information about ones character. Actually, this is one of my hub ideas hehe and I hope I will soon have the time to write that one;) Great hub!! Voted up Shared and Awesome!!

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