Did you know that diaries and journals are here to stay? That’s right! You may think that diaries are passé in this age of Facebook and Twitter, where thoughts, feelings and experiences are posted online as they occur in real time. The truth is that paper pages and online diaries aren’t going out of fashion anytime soon and there are several good reasons why. Diaries are highly personal. Maintaining one regularly offers the writer many advantages. Without further ado, may I present, ‘Five Benefits of Writing Everyday’.
Benefit 1: Getting to Meet the Real You!
Remember Bridget Jones? Yes, she’s a fictional character, but do you remember the voyeuristic fascination with which we delved into her fictional diary in the wildly popular book and movie? Why do people find the details of someone else’s life so riveting? I believe it has to do with the truthful personality of a diary or journal. The closely guarded pages are meant for the eyes of the reader only. That’s because they often contain little tidbits of truth, admitted on paper, that others would never have guessed about the writer.
When you make daily entries in a diary or journal, you are cataloging your life as it is, and not as you want the world to think it is. There’s a level of honesty that seeps into every word while the truth mingles unashamedly with every story written down. Affectations are stripped away. The mask that you wear to present a better face to the world is removed and you are laid bare. The ‘real you’ then emerges.
So how is this a benefit? Acceptance of the ‘real you’ is the starting point of any real positive change that you want to make in your life. When taking a good hard look at yourself, there’s no clearer mirror than the pages of your daily diary. Once you put it down in writing, it’s out there, and you cannot ignore it anymore. The small issues, the big problems, the fears you’ve been trying to hide, the friends you know aren’t really friends at all, the pressures at work, the despairing lack of confidence you feel in the presence of others, the pride you earnestly try to hide behind mock modesty. Yes, if you want the truth, just read last month’s entries in your diary and the truth shall set you free.
Pick out the pettiness, ignorance, unfairness and negative emotions displayed, then go ahead and get rid of them. Accepting your authentic self is a starting point to becoming exactly what you’d like to be. Writing everyday leads to self-realization, acceptance, change and growth.
Benefit 2: Catharsis the ‘Write’ Way
The second benefit of writing everyday is something I’ve personally experienced through the Morning Pages. This is a unique concept advocated by American author Julia Cameron in her widely read book – The Artist’s Way.
The Morning Pages are a valuable tool that clears the mind and soul before you start each day. Three pages of freestyle, stream-of-thought writing should be done, as soon as you get out of bed or at least, as soon as you can get around to doing it, before your day begins. The Morning Pages literally clean your mind out of all the little nagging worries, fears, angry thoughts and anxieties that are ruminating inside your head. Putting them down on paper as they come into your mind, frees you from thinking about them constantly. Do your Morning Pages just once and see how light and unburdened you feel the rest of the day. For more insight on how the Morning Pages help you, do pick up Julia Cameron’s book and read it before practicing what she advocates.
Benefit 3: Defining and Refining your Own Future
Although often used interchangeably, there’s a key difference between diaries and journals. A diary is a factual record of daily events – usually written at the end of a day noting down whom you met or saw, where and why, what happened, how you felt about that meeting or experience and what occurred. It’s an uninhibited record of both good and bad moments in a day.
A journal is far more personal, self-reflective and introspective. In a journal, you write down your innermost thoughts, the dreams you yearn to fulfill, your deepest desires and your plans for the future. Journaling is creating your life’s path charted in words. It’s your personalized map for the future and it can change as you journal everyday.
Writing in your journal opens your mind up to new possibilities. It takes the fragments of your dreams and desires and uses it to create a complete picture of what you really want from life. As you write, you begin to see the steps that you can take towards having the life you really want. That’s the third benefit of writing everyday.
Benefit 4: The Seed of an Idea Immortalized
Great ideas often strike when you least expect them and in the least likely of places – when you’re halfway through dinner in a restaurant, when you’re in the shower, just as you are about to enter an elevator. No matter when that metaphoric light bulb goes on in your brain, hold onto the resulting thought for dear life. Then take the shortest possible route to the nearest piece of paper and pen and jot it down lickety-split. Use a paper napkin; use the back of an envelope, or even the back of your hand. The key is to write it down. Scribbling it down in words immortalizes an idea so you cannot forget or ignore it. Each time you look at that paper, you will be forced to move forward, to take action.
Ideas may not strike every single day, but you never know. Whether they do or not, make it a practice to write down your flashes of brilliance, look at them everyday and expand on them. The seed of an idea can always grow into a tree of prosperity.
Benefit 5: Sharpen your Focus by Sharpening your Literary Skills
Yes, you maintain a diary. No, you don’t want to be a writer. Gotcha! I’m not saying you’ll become the next bestselling author up for a Booker prize. I am saying that the practice of writing everyday helps you bring together the hundreds of scattered thoughts ruminating in your head into a coherent, cohesive format. You’ll notice as you continue to journal or maintain a diary that your earlier stream-of-thought writing style evolves into a more focused outpouring of your mind.
Some shining stars of the literary world have maintained long-term diaries. Among them are Virginia Woolf and Susan Sontag. Possibly the most well-known diary in the world is one in which a young Jewish woman documented her experiences while in hiding during the Holocaust – The Diary of Anne Frank.
Just to reiterate, I’m not saying that the benefit of writing everyday is that you’ll become an author of repute. However, you will find it easier to sort through your thoughts and sharpen your focus as you sharpen your literary skills.
In conclusion I would like to say, whether you make quick entries in a diary just before going to bed, or whether you make them in a more leisurely fashion over evening tea, writing every day will change your life, usually for the better. As you write, you are preserving memories and cataloging experiences, pressed like a flower between the pages that fades with time but leaves an impression forever. Keep writing and you’ll soon see what I mean.