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What should I Write in a Diary?

Updated on October 9, 2014

My Grandma Kept a Diary for Many Years

I started keeping a diary lately, and it's been making a big difference in how I feel. I take a few minutes to think about the "big picture" and write down a few things about the day that might be of interest to me in 5 or 10 years.

As I thought about starting to keep a journal, I remembered how my Grandma kept a small notebook diary that she often referred to. I learned a lot from my Grandma, a kind woman who never learned to drive and loved to read. Here's a picture of her with me, when I was just a little one.

On these page, I will explore the types of diaries, the kind of things to write in a diary, and reasons to keep one.

Is a 5 year diary right for you? - Good for record keeping, only space for a few sentences each day.

5 Year Diary: Red Cover
5 Year Diary: Red Cover

This diary closely resembles the one my Grandma kept. Entries for all 5 years are on the same page. That is, there is one page for Feb 1st, and when you complete this diary, you'll be able to read about what happened on Feb 1st for all 5 years on the same page.

I like this one because it takes only a few minutes to fill it. For me, this diary isn't a personal journal where I ramble on about how I've been feeling. Rather, this is a record of events that I can share with my family. If you want a journal for working through your emotions, this one is not for you - there's just not enough space.


The 5 Year Diary - A Look Inside...

5 Year Diary
5 Year Diary
Sunset, Hood Canal, Washington State
Sunset, Hood Canal, Washington State

Why keep a diary?

Do you ever feel like time just passes you by? I was feeling this way, and I thought that writing in a diary could help me to remember each day so that I wouldn't wonder months or years later what happened to all this time....

So now I take a few moments to think about each day and I try to write about things that I accomplished, interesting things that happened, and other events so that I can later read back over it and see how I spent each day. I try to think positively and for the most part keep my diary entries happy. As someone who copes with depression at times, this is a good mental exercise for me.

I try to imagine myself in 5 or 10 years and think about what I would like to remember from this time period in my life.

So, for me, it's a small ritual that allows me to stop time for a moment and to appreciate life.

Everyone has their own reasons as to why to keep a diary. It may be a record for your future self, a journal for your children to read, or it may be a private way for you to work through emotions.

So, what should I write in a diary? - Here are some ideas to get you started

I usually try to think about what my life might be like in 10 years from now, and I try to write down things that my future self might like reading about. Here are some of the stuff I've written about:

  • The Weather - Temperature, Storms, etc
  • Food you ate
  • Places you went
  • Animals you saw
  • News, local or world events
  • Your Feelings or Mood
  • TV or Movies you watched
  • Books you are reading
  • Something special you bought recently
  • Gifts you've received
  • Family news and events
  • People you talked to
  • Learn anything new?
  • Dreams
  • Funny things people said (especially kids)
  • Seasonal changes - first frost, flowering plants, etc
  • What your kids or pets are doing

How to get into the habit of writing in a diary every day

You can form a habit by repeatedly during the same thing day after day. At first it may be hard to remember to write in your diary, but after a couple of weeks, it should become an automatic part of your day.

A good way to form a new habit like writing in a diary is to do it at the same time every day. Try to pair it up with something that you already do every day. For example, you may want to do it in the morning as you're making coffee or in the evening right after brushing your teeth. If there's a TV program you watch every day, you could do it before or after that. You could write in it while on the train or bus, or after doing homework or putting the kids to bed.

If following a routine is not for you, an alternative way to form the habit of diary writing is to write something in your diary right after it happens. Keep your diary nearby, and as your day unfolds, if you think of something to record, take out your diary and make a quick note right then.

Weather Diary for the Scientist - Keep your own personal weather log!

The Weather Wizard's 5-Year Weather Diary
The Weather Wizard's 5-Year Weather Diary

Sometimes I note the weather in my diary, especially if we have a storm, power outage, or unusually hot or cold temperatures... But if you want to be more consistent, using a separate journal just for weather is a good idea. My Grandpa kept track of snowfall totals for many years and my Grandma kept a record of the pond's water level by noting when a certain rock was exposed.


5 Year Journal with Creative Prompts - A New Question to Answer Every Day

Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal
Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal

This diary is a great idea for the introspective person who would like to ponder a question each day and compare their answers year to year to see how they've changed.

This looks like a good diary for teens and adults. Some sample questions:

Did you kiss someone today? (February 14)

Who are you fooling? (April 1)

If you could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go? (May 25)

_______ is funny. (July 4)

Write down your last sent text message (August 9)

What shocking news have you learned recently? (September 22)

What was the last risk you took? (November 28)


Blank Journals give you the freedom to write when you feel like it! - Write one page or write several, write when you are upset or angry....

Studies say that using a journal to get your emotions out can be very good for your mental health. You may find a need to write every day, or only during stressful times. A blank journal puts no limitations or expectations on you.

Locking Diaries for Kids - Blank Journals with Built-in Locks & Keys

I wrote in a journal on and off as a kid, but never really stuck to it for longer than a few months at a time. Now, as an adult, I'm pleased to say that I'm in Year 2 in my 5 year diary! It is really rewarding to see what I wrote about last year and gives me a better sense of what happened when.

I'd love to hear your experience with journal writing!

Do you keep a diary... - and if so, how long for?

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