Writing a diary is as old as history itself. Sitting down, at the end of a busy day, and journalling your inner thoughts is nothing new. And in our crazy world, journalling offers a brief respite, where you can close out the world, and just be mindful of events that have happened. How you feel about them. The emotions they evoke. Reminding yourself what you are grateful for. What you appreciate. Mindfulness has suddenly become fashionable, and yet is has been one of the central tenets of Buddhism for centuries.
From the greatest diarist of all time, Samuel Pepys, whose diary was written in the 17th century, to Anne Frank, and onto the fictional Bridget Jones and Adrian Mole, the trusty journal has been a haven for getting your thoughts, feelings, emotions down on paper. And we are fascinated with reading other people's diaries. To the extent that we many were duped into believing that the diaries purchased for €4.7 million, purporting to be the diaries of Hitler, were genuine. Of course, these sixty volumes, written between 1981 and 1983 turned out to be the elaborate hoax of Konrad Kujau.
I am guessing that many of you have at some point or another written in a diary. Many of you may still do. Some of you will have written one when you were younger, only to be discouraged when an older sibling searched out your most private possession, and read all about your school crush, who you wanted to dance with at the school disco, and how much you hated said sibling. A brief flirtation with journalling that ended years ago.
I have been fascinated with journalling, and writing from a young age. Writing by pen and paper, moving on to an old typewriter, and then digitally, as the world changed, to virtual keyboards. In the last year the balance has swung back a little towards actual writing with the introduction of the Apple pencil that now allows me to write by hand on a digital screen. With many apps mimicking the look of paper this is as close I will get to “real” writing that is not on actual paper.
And yet. There is just something about real pens (who can resist the history and allure of a Mont Blanc?), and real notepads. Harking back to an era where Hemingway would go nowhere without his trusty Moleskine notepad. And Bruce Chatwin said it was worse to lose one of his notepads than his passport. There is a magic evoked that can not be matched digitally.
So I have been experimenting with new journalling mediums. Putting aside the pen for now, and trying out other options that are available online. Many in the form of apps. The one I have been using for about a month now is a daily journal app called “Day One” which captures all kinds of metadata related to all your posts, such as your location when you wrote the post, what the weather was like, and even what music you may have been listening. With the ability to add pics too it is a great way of journalling my day and capturing anything that I’d like to look back on and remember.
What do you prefer? Writing in a real diary, or notepad. Or have you moved to digital, and started reaping the benefits that brings such as tagging, allowing you to immediately find any entry, from any month, or any year. And allowing you to include photos, be they daily selfies, or memories from holidays. Do you use a stylus, and try and retain some sense of tradition, or have you moved fully to virtual keyboards. I would be very interested to hear from all of you who write a diary, or journal, and how you maintain it.
For me the jury is still out as to which I prefer, the traditional, or the modern way. I will keep experimenting.