As a sort of a personal challenge, I decided early in August to write a diary (non-electronic, handwritten in cursive) once a day for an entire month. Since I “broke the chain” over Labor Day weekend, I’m going to report the things I noticed.
Writing a diary (or journal) isn’t something new to me. Back when I was a kid, around seven or so, the trimmed down Young Indiana Jones movies were being broadcast on ABC. The first show had Indy getting an empty diary from his father to record their trip around the world, and he began writing in it. I was entranced by this.
So one day, after I came home from school, my Mom called me over and said “I bought you something today.” I was puzzled until she handed me a blank diary to write in. I wrote in it for years fairly regularly until I was 17, then stopped because I got busy with other stuff. Five years later, I reopened a new diary.
Structure for daily writing
Now, most “tips” that I’ve seen online for keeping of a diary break down to an extremely regimented laboratory notebook-like cataloging of a day’s activities. For example:
“I did activity X for Y hours.”
“Approached 20 girls in the same method as yesterday: 5 blowouts, 2 numbers, and 1 instadate.”
“Lifted X weight for Y exercise and wasn’t difficult, will add Z weight next time.”
“Found a new contact to network with, sent him an email introducing myself.”
Now there’s nothing wrong with doing a point-by-point catalog of your day’s schedule, except that it eventually becomes too formulaic. In other words, boring and dry. It becomes a chore to write the same thing over and over again, day in day out. You can see this illustrated in most academic laboratory notebooks.
My own structure is this: there isn’t one.
Since what I’m writing down is for myself there is no reason to censor my writing. I can write about my feelings, problems, thoughts I might have, or record an event that made me smile. There’s no worry about looking “beta” or worrying that some online Real Alpha Male™ will think less of you.
Nobody will see what you write down, so why care about your “online street cred?”
Want to write about how that girl who was girlfriend-material crushed you when she didn’t think the same about you?
How about the time you broke down and sobbed like a baby due to a frustrating situation?
Go for it.
What about the time you had a really good day, the best you can remember in a long time?
Write it down.
That shitty day that made you wish you just died?
Spill some ink onto a page.
What I noticed
I added the writing to my “calming down” period before I go to sleep. For as long as I can remember, my mind always goes a million miles a minute and me being tired doesn’t turn this off. I’d get into bed tired only to toss and turn while my mind is thinking about random stuff. To stop this, I make a point of shutting off electronics by 20.00 and then reading while laying down in bed.
I added the writing to the mix and noted a few things:
My dreams were more frequent and vivid
I was able to fall asleep faster
More refreshing sleep (usually)
My racing mind slowed down
Less anxiety about past or future events
All in all this is something you should try, since there’s really no downside to it. You can go buy a fancy diary to write in or use a spare notebook/spiral you have leftover from school. It really doesn’t matter. Doing this is for you, not for others.
Give it a shot, you might like the results.