Hands up who has ever kept a diary? By hands up I mean like or comment, clearly. If you actually put your hand up you’ll look pure daft.
I do mean specifically a paper diary, by the way. I suspect that’s a slightly more universal experience than starting a blog. I mean, have you seen Wikipedia’s big bumper list of diarists? There are loads of people on there.
Like a lot of people, I’ve kept diaries at different stages of my life.
When I was a kid they generally revolved around arguments with my sister, and foods I had unjustly been prevented from eating.
As a teenager, I suspect the content related to unrequited love and falling out with my friends. Between the ages of about 12 and 16, falling out with my friends felt like the world was ending. It was exhausting. I’m not sure if those diaries still exist – if so I should probably seek and destroy.
As a grown up of sorts, I mainly blog. I’ve tried to keep a physical diary twice during my adult life though. It went pretty poorly both times.
Diarising as an adult
Post 12 Books in 12 months burnout at the start of 2012, I was worried about the fact I’d started to fall out of the habit of writing every day. Looking back I don’t think I had, actually. But that was my perception at the time, and I thought a paper diary could be a gentle way back in.
In 2013 I bought a lovely purple diary from Paperchase with the intention of writing a story or poem every day. It wasn’t intended to be about what happened to me, per se. It was just about getting some words out.
Reader, I genuinely gave up on the 26th of January.
The content up to that point is a mixture of rhyming couplets and to-do lists, some of which were pretty hilarious. But evidently I wasn’t that arsed.
Having said that, I’ve checked back through the blog, and I did write 59 entries across that year. This averages out at around 5 a month, with none in October because I spent most of it in the USA with my brother and sister. So I wasn’t not writing. I just wasn’t writing in a paper diary.
In fact, when I was in the US, I wrote loads of snippets of fiction in this lovely blue notebook – including the first draft of The Boy Who Whistled Like A Bird which I went on to read at the Edinburgh Book Festival.
Practice Makes Perfect
I decided to have another go at keeping a diary last year for a similar reason to my 2013 rationale – namely that I wasn’t writing enough, or as much as I thought I should. My day job at the time was getting on top of me, blog posts had become few and far between, and I hoped this might help.
This time I lasted until 28 March, and the content is pretty depressing.
January-February chronicles my attempts to try and manage my work-life balance, domestic events such as long-term partner illness and having to re-do a bathroom, and angst around my desire to regain my ability to write funny stuff.
In March I started listing positive things that had happened each day. I decided to do this because I was starting to think that two months of writing how fed up I was every day wasn’t particularly helping me. It just gave me a written record to dwell on.
This sort of helped for a bit, but then I stopped. I can’t remember why.
I decided not to repeat the experiment this year. After all, I’d demonstrated my inability to keep up to date – even though a lot has changed since March last year and my outlook is a lot more positive.
Instead, I am taking the view that diarising in the style of Samuel Pepys is just not right for me.
However, it’s not all bad. I have two lovely thick notebooks in which to scribble random shizzle as it occurs to me. It hardly matters that one has ‘2013’ on the cover and the other ‘2017’. All this shows is that mine is a nonsense that spans the ages.