I discovered journal or diary writing at a very young age. The impetus of doing so came from author Dorothy Brande's,"Becoming A Writer" in which she emphasizes the importance of writing every day. To paraphrase her, she points to the fact that if you write every day consistently for six weeks, that you'll do so for the rest of your life.
When first I started writing in journals, I was an adolescent filled with complex issues involving school, family, and the opposite sex. Reading her book and taking her advice could not have came at a better time. I soon learned that free writing was therapeutic for my mind and that to write down all of my problems was the act of "drawing out the poison" that threatened to consume me on a daily basis.
By the time I reached my freshman year of college, I filled up 17 CVS 3-Subject spiral notebooks, 200 pages (double-sided). I received a call one day from my mom asking me if it would be all right if she threw them out? I almost flipped. I told her to not touch them, no matter what. To me, those 17 spiral notebooks were worth more to me than anything else in the world.
In the process of writing longhand in my journals, I discovered what writers call a "voice." I discovered a freedom that I didn't know existed; an outlet in which my mind could breathe freely amidst a world that was determined to suffocate me.
Safe to say, writing saved my life and it continues to do so to this day.