Diaries and journals have been around for a very long time, shaping the way that humans express themselves and have changed a lot over several centuries.
The earliest forms of private journaling were done for bookkeeping and financial records that can be traced back to as far as ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia when bookkeeping took place on slabs of wood or stone.
As civilizations became more complex and individuals had the free time and money to spend on parchment, ink, and other equipment, journaling became a personal and private pastime.
Why do people use diaries and journals?
From philosophers in ancient Greece to more modern days of men and women penning their thoughts and daily activities, journaling and keeping diaries have helped shape the way we understand our past and present as human beings.
We’ve outlined the more modern reasons that people keep diaries our journals for you here!
Table of Contents
What’s the Point of a Journal or a Diary?
There are so many reasons that people use diaries and journals now that there are almost too many to count.
The use of journals and diaries in 2020 is generally based around their creative, emotional, and artistic expression.
Here are a few reasons to keep a journal or diary:
- Organizing Their Thoughts
- Recording Their Daily Life
- Expressing Secrets or Desires
- Keeping Record of Events
- Meditation or Self-Care
- Food Journaling or Dieting
Artistic and Creative Expression
Bullet-journaling, or creating a specifically tailored journal from a blank book, is a great way for artists and creative types to take time to plot out their lives in their own style.
From creating your own columns and calendars to keeping track of weather patterns and exercise habits, these creative people will draw, paint, pen, sharpie, or organize their journal in any which way or form!
They also invest time and effort into learning calligraphy or writing in specific fonts, watercolor painting, or separating pages with lines and dots with rulers and stencils.
This artistic expression will help someone who loves to do art organize themselves, their days, weeks, or even just to spend time putting pen to paper.
Self-Care and Meditation
Even more than personal and artistic expression, some use diaries and journals for self-care or relaxation purposes.
As adults found that their lives were becoming more and more stressed, they turned to arts and craft projects as well as coloring books that allowed them to do something with their hands in a quiet, slow-paced environment.
Like coloring and arts and crafts, journaling or writing down your emotions into a journal is a therapeutic way to get things off of your chest. It also allows you to sit down and process something on your own in a quiet place.
Furthermore, as we mentioned with bullet-journaling, taking time to create something that is yours and follows your own style can be a meditative process that benefits emotional healing.
Daily Life, Exercise & Dieting
One huge part of journaling is keeping a record of your daily life.
Whether that is how many glasses of water you’ve had, how many steps you’ve taken, or what the weather was like, keeping detailed notes is helpful for creating positive habits and routines!
Many people who are going through dieting, health issues, major changes, or new experiences will want to record how they are doing from day to day basis.
This means that they will often bring a small journal with them to help keep them on track and honest with themselves.
If you are interested in making large lifestyle changes that require dedication, consistency, and recordkeeping, consider starting a daily journal or diary!
Professional or Business Recordkeeping
As we mentioned above, recordkeeping has been a staple in human civilization for centuries.
For any business, you are most likely going to keep a record of finances, inventory, or other major specifics.
Most of these are done online now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a classification of journaling and bookkeeping!
However, there are also professionals who journal and schedule their meetings, phone interviews, and other major events in planners – which many people create on their own through bullet-journaling.
If you are a “professional” person or someone who needs to keep track of things in the workplace, a planner you create yourself through journaling is a great way to do it!
What’s the Difference Between a Diary and a Journal?
There are a few differences between a diary and a journal that many people find important when defining how they write.
While these differences aren’t that important when it comes to writing your thoughts, routines, or memories down, some find that they’d rather call it a diary over a journal and vice-versa.
What is a Diary?
Diaries have always been considered to be a private item that no one else views but the owner.
The word “diary” is usually associated with young women or girls who like to keep track of their thoughts, feelings, daily events, or troubles that they can’t express out loud.
While this is not always the case – as many men and boys have been known to keep diaries in the past – it is generally considered not to be a professional or even adult item to have. Instead, many people think that you should “outgrow” a diary after a certain age, or express your feelings and emotions more publicly as you grow up.
A diary can technically be a journal, in that it can record nearly anything you’d like to write in it, but is generally assumed to be a private document that no one else is allowed access to. Journals, on the other hand, can be public or even shared among individuals to keep track of many things all at once.
What is a Journal?
Journals, as we’ve mentioned above, can be used for many different things.
You can use a journal for business, finances, recordkeeping, personal thoughts, notes, reminders, or any other thing you can think of to pen down on paper!
Many scientists, doctors, businessmen, and even ordinary people use journals in their daily lives.
These are not like diaries because they are not always locked away privately for no one else to view. Journals can be public or used between several people – such as a medical journal or chart of information collected in a lab for scientists.
While this distinction is pretty small, most people consider their “adult diaries” to be journals instead, as it seems like a more professional term to use.
Why Not Both?
Again, it is important to stress that even if you call it a diary instead of a journal or vice-versa, both documents are very similar and are personalized creation of the owner.
You don’t have to consider it a private document, and you also don’t have to share it with others. Whether you’d like to call it one thing or another, you can do whatever you like with your own personal diary or journal.
If someone were to consider your “journal” a “diary”, it doesn’t really matter as long as you know what you’d like it to be.
What Should You Write About in a Journal?
The great thing about a journal is that you can write whatever you want!
As we’ve mentioned, whether you’re using your journal for personal or professional reasons, keeping track of your health, diets, or exercise, you can pretty much do whatever you want with it!
The freedom of a journal is allowing yourself to do whatever you like, whenever you like. There is no “should” about it!
You can keep it in your bag and write on the bus to work or school. You can write in it at night, in the morning or during meals.
You can even decide to put it aside for a year or two and come back to it later! The possibilities are endless and entirely up to you!
If you aren’t sure what you want to write about in your journal, consider these as options:
- Personal Thoughts and Feelings
- A Record of Daily Activities
- Health and Wellness Notes or Diets
- Fiction, Nonfiction or Poetry
- Love Letters that You Never Send Out
- Collect and Press Flowers or Leaves from Nature Walks
- Create a Planner and Organize Meetings or Plans
Even if you choose one of these, all of them or none of them, you still have complete and total freedom over your journal – and that’s a great thing!
How Many People Write a Diary Today?
With the resurgence of bullet-journaling, young writers and authors, as well as professionals who would like to get away from computers and write something on paper, a good percentage of Americans are journaling and writing in diaries today!
While many people may not consider it “writing in my diary”, the act of keeping records of your daily activities or feelings is basically what humans were doing a century ago, and will continue to be the same act moving forward.
Millions of Americans are embracing the journaling movement and taking time out of their busy lives to jot down their emotions, feelings, or daily observances all the time!
Why not join them?
When Did People Start Journaling?
We’ve mentioned that humans have been keeping records ever since writing was first invented a long, long time ago.
This is because we have a huge tendency to keep track of things – to make sense out of chaos and get data written down for future use. This also means that journaling and writing in diaries have been a staple in humanity for nearly a thousand years.
Most recordkeeping in history was for business and transactions that were done between people. Once there was easier access to paper, ink, quills, pens, and now, today, stylized markers, more ordinary people were writing more personal things that they wanted to preserve and reflect upon.
From the earliest stamps made from stone or animal bone in Mesopotamia that marked when transactions occurred, to philosophers’ teachings written on stone slabs in ancient Greece; hieroglyphs imprinted upon Egyptian walls and stone, people have been journaling, recordkeeping and writing down their thoughts since writing was invented.
Once it became more accessible, everyone wanted to do it!