Is it right to write?

To write or not to write, that is the question.

How many of you keep a diary or journal? A few years ago I came across a couple of old diaries which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. My only disappointment was the lack of consistent entries, I wanted more! That prompted me to start writing again in the hope I will be able to have the same enjoyment in years to come.

Curious about how others felt about writing a diary, I asked a number of friends and was fascinated with the variety of responses. Some claimed they didn’t have time to write but would love to have one, others thought it was self indulgent, others were simply afraid someone might read it and didn’t think it was worth the risk and a few mentioned they write on a regular basis.

I decided to do a little bit of research around the phenomenon of diary keeping. I came across an article in The Guardian suggesting that keeping a diary actually makes you happier.

“The findings suggest that keeping a diary, making up poetry and scribbling down song lyrics can help people get over emotional distress.” I also found a quote that is very much a direct contraction to this idea and Enoch Powell stated that “To write a diary every day is like returning to one’s own vomit.”

To me this highlighted there are opposing views and feelings as to a diary’s usefulness.

I was also surprised to learn there are so many sites that offer you the possibility of keeping a personal and confidential diary online. I suppose my traditional and old fashioned side still thinks that diary writing is one of the few opportunities we have to put pen to paper. I also feel the emotions that pass from through the pen would be stronger than if you have a keyboard in the way.

For what it’s worth, I think that writing a journal/diary is a good way of consolidating thoughts without any interruptions or criticisms. It can also be a great way of releasing stress and may act as a catharsis. I believe it is the most intimate and private writing and it almost takes courage to be honest and spontaneous. I sense it is a good way of sharpening and training your memory as we all have a tendency to forget people, places, and events. Some might argue that if you forget it’s because it’s not worth remembering. Whilst this may be valid in some instances, more often than not we forget because we replace images and information in our brain with new ones.

It’s also about keeping memories alive. People seem to be very happy to keep photo albums and the most part enjoy going through old pictures. They say a “picture speaks a thousand words” and it does indeed yet it does not tell the whole story. In addition to all of the above keeping a diary is like writing your own personal history. They also say every man should write a book and plant a tree and whilst the latter may be easier a diary may be the only book you get to write.

Is it right to write clearly appears to be a matter of opinion. Notwithstanding, the historical importance of diaries such as those by Samuel Pepys and Anne Frank is difficult to challenge. Both are very useful eyewitness accounts of important periods of history, in addition to offering enthralling insights into personal lives and relationships. Both were published after the authors’ death and neither was intended for publication.

Maybe next time you are in a bookstore or stationary shop you might be tempted to buy a blank book and just start scribbling away your first entry. Who knows, it may come in handy you if you ever decide to write your memoirs…


Photo from Flickr user Rockypix

29 Responses to “Is it right to write?”

  1. Nestor Brathwaite says:

    This post is beyond awesome. I am always wondering what to do and what not to do so I will follow some of these tips.

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