How writing a diary can improve your life

how writing a diary can change your life

I’ve been keeping diaries for most of my life, although it’s only recently I resumed the habit of writing in an old-fashioned paper journal every night, as opposed to simply updating my blog. 

In my case, of course, writing a diary quite literally changed my life – in ways I couldn’t even have begun to have imagined. Those early attempts at diary-writing were what eventually turned into my personal blog, Forever Amber, which now pays me a large part of my salary every month. So I guess you could say that the diary I was given as an 11-year-old  got me into a habit which eventually became my career – as strange as that sounds.

It did some other things for me, too, though, which is why I recently decided to take up the habit again. As much as I love blogging, you see, it’s just not the same as writing in a “REAL” diary: the main difference being that a blog is written for an audience (even the people who claim to be writing purely “for themselves” are presumably aware that anyone on the internet could read it, and that forces you to keep some things back, whether you want to or not), and a diary is normally private – which allows you to be totally honest. Here are some reasons I recommend diary writing…

how writing a diary can improve your life (and how it changed mine)


I’m the kind of person who HAS to write things down: I always have been. I’ve always felt like things haven’t REALLY happened to me until I’ve recorded them in some way, and the act of writing them down also helps me make sense of them somehow. If I’m having a very bad day, writing about it will get it out of my system and make me feel better, while I’m I’m worried about something: and it definitely beats ranting to the people who know me, and ending up annoying them!


Sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees: I find that writing things down allows me to work through them and really make sense of my feelings. I’ve also recently noticed my husband doing the same thing – he’s not a writer, but when dealing with a particularly difficult situation, he found it really helpful to write out a timeline of what had happened. This kind of writing can really help clarify things for you, and often something will jump out at you that you might not otherwise have noticed.


It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how much your forget, isn’t it? I generally consider myself to have a pretty good memory, but when I look back over my old diaries, they’ll often remind me of things I’d have totally forgotten about otherwise. Now, many of those things are relatively unimportant, obviously, but they’re still the little details that made you who you are, and it’s nice to be reminded of them.  I also find that the act of writing something down helps solidify it in my mind: my husband, for instance, has a really bad memory, and I sometimes wonder if the reason I normally remember things and he doesn’t is because I’ve written them down shortly after they happened.


There’s also no doubt in my mind that cultivating a daily writing habit, by updating my diary every night for years, helped prepare me for my future career as a blogger. It also helped me develop the “voice” I have as a writer, traces of which I can see right from my very earliest diaries.


If you start keeping a diary as an adult, this one might not apply to you, but there’s almost nothing funnier to me than reading over my childhood diaries, which are both funny and, OK, maybe a little bit painful, if I’m totally honest. But hey: that’s why they’re private, right?

Anyone else out there keep a diary?


1 Comment

  • I’ve kept diaries on and off since my family gave me my first one in early elementary school. It’s both hilarious and painful to read through now that I’m older and wiser, much like you said. I do wish I had written more often in my teen years! Then again, maybe it’s for the best that my cringey angst wasn’t immortalized on paper…

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