Teachers and friends have counseled me, at various times, to keep a diary. Others have extolled the virtues of a journal. We use the two words interchangeably, but they serve different functions. Dictionary.com defines a diary as “a daily record, usually private, especially of the writer’s own experiences, observations, feelings, and attitudes.” It describes a journal as “a newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity, i.e. a medical journal.”
I know people who maintain a record of their daily lives, and they tell me they often study their passages. I tried the exercise, and I admit I never knew what to write. The real test was when, several months later, I reviewed the entries. The blithering idiot responsible for the drivel appalled and embarrassed me. I swore no one would read the garbage, and I burned everything.
Since then, I have decided journals are much more to my liking. I log notes, plan for projects, and add inspirational references and pertinent research. I don’t require perfection. Sometimes I scratch out entire sentences or remove pages to either destroy or to paste into another book. Thoughts toward the bottom of the page will crawl up the edges. Arrows and doodles cut across the text to connect ideas or highlight contradictions. Pictures, maps, and stickers add color, impart meaning, and create a tether to help me remember the moments I record.
Do you keep a diary or a journal?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer