How To: Start and Keep a Diary

The act of journaling can be an insanely awesome experience. Beyond the obvious egocentric pleasure of reveling in your own existence, a diary or journal is a tool of emotional expression, self-awareness, and creativity.

I began keeping a diary around the age of seven years old, upon the receipt of a mermaid-scale notebook. I filled it with doodles of Spongebob, fantasies about marrying the best dodgeball player in gym, and the occasional quip about art class. Since then, my diary has been an integral part of who I am (and needless to say, the content has hardly changed).

People seem so surprised when I tell them the majority of my existence has been documented by my own hand. “I always start a journal,” they say. “But then I just lose interest and forget to write.”

It’s always the same story. Yet, five seconds on the internet will reveal no one loses interest in talking about themselves. And this certainly isn’t a bad thing! Three cheers for self-discovery! It seems to me that the real problem is people thinking there is a set of rules and standards one must uphold in the diary-writing world. Fun fact: your diary is a private experience for a reason. Whether it looks like a carefully-curated catalog or an explosion of words and ideas is amazing either way! It’s all about finding what feels most fulfilling and cathartic. So let’s get started!



Picking out a brand-new diary is the second most fun aspect of keeping one (the first being re-reading it three years later and questioning all of your life choices).

Your journal can be anything from anywhere: a composition book from the dollar store, a fancy shmancy Moleskine, a sketchbook, or a handcrafted leather book from Etsy. You’ll know when something speaks to you. My only rule is: make sure it’s something you can carry everywhere.

There are also books like “Wreck This Journal” that provide a bit more of a guided experience. Each page has a different prompt or activity, and you’re encouraged to transform them as you see fit. These can be awesome for breaking out of a creative rut, or sharing with a friend.

Shop CognitiveSurplus on Etsy


As previously stated, there are absolutely no rules when it comes to writing in your journal, though many find it preferable to avoid animal sacrifices. If this is your first diary entry, start with how you’re feeling today. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Let your ideas evolve as they come!

Here are some things you can put in your journal:

Dreams, lists, your day, sketches, people watching, letters to people you don’t know, letters to people you do know, opinions on books movies and music, rants and vents, stories, poems, pressed flowers, collages and cut-outs, quotes, things you learned today, recipes, receipts, jokes, how-tos, news, plans, outfit ideas…

…And that really is just a fraction of the magic little world you can create between two pages.


Incorporating a diary into your daily/weekly/monthly routine shouldn’t be a chore. If you find yourself with little to say, try writing at a different time of day or in a different place. Most importantly, don’t force your thoughts. If your day warrants a sentence and a half accompanied by a sketch of a shoe, so be it! Excellent job! Gold star!

I tend to write earlier in the day–I get up at least an hour before my boyfriend and sit at my desk, considering the previous day and planning for the one ahead. It’s both relaxing and energizing. Some days, I find myself recording events in minute detail, while other entries say nothing more than “Klaus won’t stop licking my face.” Both are equally perfect usages of ink and paper.

If you let your journal interact with you in a way that feels natural and cathartic, it will soon become an essential part of your routine, and you can begin building a record of your beautiful self!


These resources might help get those creative juices feeling extra-juicy!

Gala Darling’s Radical Self Love Bible is an ongoing journaling project that has created some serious loveliness.

The diaries of Anais Nin are widely-regarded as some of the most important published journals of all time. Beautifully written, inspirational, and relatable all at the same time. Essential reading.

Journaling Junkie and F-Yeah Journals are both tumblr blogs for sharing journal pictures and pages. Always too cool to see how others interpret their lives on paper.

Shop PaperNotebook on Etsy

Now, go forth all and create beautiful and magical little books of your lives! Tell me your grand plans and ideas! Document your internal and external self!

Long live diaries!






2 thoughts on “How To: Start and Keep a Diary

  1. Hey, my name is Marc and want to say that I like the design of your blog, it’s like minimal, cool. Maybe blogging is something like keeping a journal. So, keep blogging!

    1. Hey Marc! I’m so stoked to hear you like the design of my blog! I definitely think of blogging as keeping a sort of public, curated journal :)Thanks so much for your comment! xoxo

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