Thursday, March 16, 2017

More thoughts on diary writing

Here is my second post about diary writing. The first one can be found here and concerns the practicality of the habit -- how I do it, with what, and how often.


I knew that this second post was going to be a bit more abstract than the first so I'm not too sure about the format. Thus, a looser structure is indicated.

Reasons why I write in a diary

I touched briefly on why I began writing, but not why I continued to write, and why I will continue to write every day, once a day, ad infinitum. To be honest, I don't have a concrete answer. It's become habit at this point where I feel discomfort in forgetting to write or not writing adequately. Writing at the end of the night unburdens me from the thoughts I've had that day. It's a conveniently private outlet for the daily stresses and emotions, which I feel could otherwise build up to unhealthy levels. At a more basic level, I write every day because memory is unreliable and writing things down helps me keep them.

I also like my penmanship, and use my diaries as a way to indulge myself there. I also recently bought a fountain pen and ink.

It's not journaling

And I get a bit defensive about that, in real life when people find out about this practice and internally when I see blog posts, YouTube videos, think-pieces, Pinterest posts, etc about journaling. It's a bit of an irrational aversion to the term, but I know that others may see these posts here and code my diary writing as journaling.

To me, journaling suggests deeper emotional content and creativity. A lot of journaling fads I've seen on the internet seem juvenile and hokey, but that's just me being judgmental about things that don't concern me.

If anything, I downplay my emotions in my diary and contrive to keep my entries restrained and cold. I can easily dissect my thoughts and emotions on paper, but seldom let emotions themselves guide my writing. Long story short, I still think I have issues expressing myself and being vulnerable in my diary, but that I really could benefit from taking the 'journaling' road of emotional catharsis. But then again, I do get some kind of catharsis after writing.

It's not meditation, either

Until I think about it.

I'm not really a follower of mindfulness or meditation or any number of techniques and products and self-help media that will help me achieve them. However, once I peel back the pretty social media influencer veneer, I see its value. I really think that setting time aside in the day to be alone with your own thoughts is important. Quiet time for reflection and self-awareness, protected time where self-centeredness and selfishness are mandatory.

For some people, meditation is the way to do this. For me, I need to write it down.

How has it helped me?

I don't know exactly. I have been writing in my diary since I was a teenager and don't know any other way of life. Writing about anger and interpersonal issues helps me prevent arguments and confrontations -- by the way, my cardinal sin of choice is, and has always been wrath. I think I'm a more even-keeled and disciplined person for it, but I have no way of telling that.

However, one thing I do know for certain is that daily diary entries help me identify my personality traits and flaws. I know myself fairly well. It's all written there.

I'm not enlightened

That goes without saying. However, I think that people may erroneously think that writing about yourself will make you a better person. I believe that I would not know myself as well or be as comfortable with self-criticism (or take self-criticism too harshly) if I didn't write in my diary, but I don't know if that has had led to distinct changes in my behavior or personality.

The Lord of Three Realms

The blog and the diary fill different niches and serve different purposes. The blog is a more longitudinal view of myself and my interests and was created explicitly to help me become a better, more advanced version of myself. The Lord of Three Realms as an imaginary entity lives at the end of the staircase of self-improvement. LL versions I through XIV may be distinct and show growth, but the daily variations in the writer are too small to appreciate or care about.

The next post

Let's talk about you instead

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