A-Z Challenge,  Journaling

Journaling: D is for Diary

I’m often asked what is the difference between a diary and a journal. To be honest, I’m not sure a great difference exists. They are often used interchangeably.

To provide two separate definitions, however, a diary is a summary of daily activities. It is a factual timeline of life. A diary is typically in chronological order. Today I woke then this happened….

A journal, on the other hand, includes thoughts, feelings, and emotions. While I may summarize the day in a journal, I also delve into how I responded to those events. What did I feel? What lessons did I learn?

While my journal entries often have no correlation with the day’s events, I love the idea of using a journal as a diary.

How I wish I could look back at my life as a teenager or new mother and read the history of my life. What was my perspective at the time? How has that perspective changed?

Here are a few suggestions when writing a diary entry:

  • Date the page. The date provides context. When you re-read the entry in the future, the date can help trigger other events at the time of the writing. Sometimes the date can provide another prompt for a future journal entry.
  • Touch upon backstory. What you write today may not be clear ten years from today. Jot a few notes that will help in the future as you remember the event.
  • Be sure to use full names at least once. I’m always amazed at how fuzzy my memory becomes over time. Close co-workers today can slip into anonymity if we don’t document.

Diary entries give us the opportunity to look back and reflect. They also reveal how things have changed over the years… and how they have stayed the same.

(Photo credit: 4956365 from pixabay)


    • Molly Totoro

      I understand that mindset, Debbie. But you might be surprised how much of your life is worth examining. What I probably consider a dull routine today will be interesting to recall a decade from now.

  • pat

    Molly, great tips. I believe my morning journal is also my diary. I do put in things I’m doing or did and how I feel about them. I do date, and often point out the weather that day….very diary like. I tend to use first names and last initial (or just first name if it’s someone closer) when writing about people though…. not sure why. LOL. I have read back a few times to see how I was feeling about something…. and the level of detail helped me go back to that time frame.

    I’m very curious to see how you manage some of the tough letters… J, Q, Z!

    • Molly Totoro

      I learned a while ago that what seems silly to document today is quite helpful a few years in the future (especially full names of relatives)

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