A nice device - Karen Bush

Sometimes only pen and ink will do ...

Boswell, Johnson, Pepys, Anne Frank, Captain Scott, Nella Last - not to mention the fictional Adrian Mole, Charles Pooter and Bridget Jones ... Yes, the link between them all as you've probably guessed, is diaries, which seems rather appropriate considering the time of year. A new diary used to be a regular gift item each Christmas, with all the promise of the year ahead waiting to be filled in on those inviting blank pages. 

Diary entries are of course a wonderful device for novelists, allowing you to skip over the boring bits and get straight into the action on every page, as well as into the mind of the protagonist; and if you aren't great at description, it neatly lets you off that particular hook too. 

Where real people are concerned though, they provide an insight into the lives not just of both ordinary and extraordinary people caught up in the events of their age, but a glimpse of the mundane, every day existence which with the distance of time can be every bit as fascinating as the more dramatic stuff. Reading a diary is like opening a little time capsule, which will transport you through the years as well as directly into someone else's head.

But who keeps a diary these days? Facebook, blogs and other social media seem to have taken over ... which is sad as not only will memorable entries be consigned to oblivion in the ether, but let's face it - most people are unlikely to write their deepest, most private thoughts on posts that will be shared with others. What is written will be skewed by the way you'd like to be perceived, so not as honest and truthful ... A good thing, then, that social media is a relatively recent invention: and lets not allow it to take over completely in the day-to-day recording of our lives. No matter how humdrum it may seem to you now, it might be of help to the historians of the future.

Besides, sometimes it's good to get things off your chest. You can say things in your diary you couldn't tell your best friend ...


Chris Longmuir said…
Good post. My diary is reserved for dates and appointments to keep track of what I have to do. I think the last time I used a diary for anything else was when I was a child! By the way, you're going to give yourself shoulder problems with your keyboard and monitor at those angles.Best to place your monitor directly in front of the keyboard so you don't have to turn to look at it.
Lynne Garner said…
I encourage my students to keep a diary where they see, hear, smell or taste something new. The things that go in there can be used in their writing or as a way to inspire them. I did it one year and every so often I go back to that diary and it brings back sights, sounds and smells I'd forgotten about. For example how the early morning frost had melted on the park grass but still covered the ground under the trees and the line of the frost mirrored that of the tree line.
Umberto Tosi said…
I absolutely agree, Karen. Nothing can interrupt the creative flow of pen and ink - no red-squiggly-spellchecker underlinings to kick me into dullsville editor-mode for one thing. Nothing beats pen-and-ink for journaling. Take, for another example, the masterpiece I recently inked on plain-lined paper! Too bad I can't read my own handwriting. :D
misha said…
The brain seems to work differently when you are using pen and paper and there is something very powerful in writing down thoughts and feelings. I no longer keep a conventional diary, but I do note down the good things that have happened each day, however trivial, and would say that this exercise has a definite effect on my mood and attitude. Can't recommend it highly enough.

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