|Volumes I to XIII, autumn 2007 to present|
I write a daily diary. This is the first in a three-part series about diary writing.
Sometime around that, I received the volume with the blue cats on the cover for a birthday and abandoned my old notebook for it. I abandoned that one, too, when daily writing became a bore. I rediscovered the cat diary sometime in college, where it fell in line as Vol. VIII of my archived life. The first fifteen pages contain the imaginations and ramblings of a ten year-old who hated school, and the rest contains the long-winded agonies of a nineteen year-old studying for the MCAT. The last page contains my score.
I began writing in earnest in August 2007, and then daily in August 2008 at the start of high school. Every day has an entry, whether it was written before midnight, after midnight, the morning after, or in pieces over the subsequent week.
Materials and Methods
I am very fond of beautiful notebooks. Many of the more recent volumes have come from Paperblanks, which have beautiful covers, luxurious paper, and a shocking sticker price. However, it is important to me that these volumes last long, lay flat, and are a delight to write in. Hence, I can justify throwing money at expensive stationery, and am seriously considering buying a fountain pen for the next volume. I currently use any number of pens around my desk to write, but reserve my favorite pens for diary writing.
I write mostly about what happened to me on any given day, anything at all. I don't follow prompts and I don't describe this process as 'journalling,' which is becoming more popular nowadays. I have poured out my heart before, but have also written in exhaustive detail everything I could remember from surgeries that I have shadowed, complete with sketches. During gross anatomy, my entries read more like a dissection manual than anything else; when I was in Germany, it was an itinerary with as much sensory details I could fit in. Memorable patients, memorable places, etc. It varies. I could be more reflective, emotional, and introspective, but those entries are not common.
Rules and Rituals
Over the years, some rules and rituals have emerged. Exceptions are noted if ever applicable.
- write in pen only
- begin each entry with the date
- end each entry with a signature
- write at night immediately before going to bed, but fill in details the morning after in case I missed something (rarely) -- only under very specific circumstances will I revisit an entry after a day
- if I am currently writing Vol. n, I am not allowed to read from Vol. n - 1 until I finish Vol. n
- at the end of Vol. n, I write a postcard to myself to read when I begin writing Vol. n + 7. This began with the end of Vol. VIII
- include ephemera (ticket stubs, stickers, etc) if they are important or beautiful
- write legibly, but try not to waste space
- note the Vol. number on the front page
- copy a meaningful poem or quote on the back page
- be HIPAA compliant
- one entry each day, every day, ad infinitum
Next time: what I have learned from writing a diary, why you may want to consider it yourself, and how it has affected me