Why I could never keep a journal

Header photo from Bridget Jones’s Diary

There’s a certain religiosity to diary-keeping, and for that I admire their keepers. Whether you’re filling a notebook, secret blog, or private Instagram account with your musings, getting in your own head on a regular basis takes work. Having to read the stuff that comes out of it? Even more so.

That’s how it seems like to me, at least. I’ve never been able to move beyond my first WordPress entry, nor a page in whatever new notebook I designate as my diary-to-be. Apologies to every New Year’s resolution I’ve made about journaling, but part of it is pure laziness. It’s hard to find the words for the day’s feelings, and as long as those words are written down, I feel like they have an audience — the audience being me judging me, evaluating my everyday accomplishments and how eloquently I express them.

Diary-keepers are brave. The faithful kinds would leave the sugarcoating to social media; their secret posts and notebook pages bear the brunt of their daily reflections. If I could blame everything on laziness, I would. Yet more of my experience has been about fear than anything.

Maybe diaries hold a time-capsule appeal for some: a record of the past, so you know how far you’ve come. But as much as I’d love to remember the good times, or to understand my growth since the bad ones, it scares me to write about the latter. And if I can’t think of anything interesting to write, then the difference between a bad day and a dull one is moot. For that, keeping a diary has always appeared more haunting than cathartic.

 

And if I can’t think of anything interesting to write, then the difference between a bad day and a dull one is moot. For that, keeping a diary has always appeared more haunting than cathartic.

 

I don’t need to hear about effort and tiredness and disappointments, because those things already tend to linger in memory. Still, it wouldn’t be fair to chronicle the high points alone. A true diary doesn’t gloss over the drama. So props to anyone with the courage to spell out the ghosts and moments of glory alike.

As for me and those who also shy away from that, it’s not like our thoughts have to stay bottled. I’d sooner vent to a friend or compose a tweet than write an essay about today, and I’m sure other people find places besides paper for their contemplations. To each their own, really. As long as the release keeps you going, journal or no journal, you’re on the right track.

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