Monday, June 15, 2009

To Diary or Not To Diary

Keeping a diary, I have read in many places, is something that every writer should do, but I've never been convinced of it: until recently.

I've heard both Michael Palin and John Altman talk about their diarying and realised that it's not such a bad idea.

Altman and Palin both record the mundane, the price of milk and where they went for dinner etc, alongside thoughts and revelations. Not only does it remind them what they were doing at a certain point in their lives, but also what they were thinking.

This might seem only to be valuable for those who crave fame, but to a writer it can help build a character. An insight into other people's daily lives, and a writer's own past, can round out the writing about anyone in a book or short story.

The milk they prefer to buy and why, the odd thoughts that go through their mind build up a picture.

Diary writing is not for everyone, and only occasionally for me, but I'm less dismissive of diary writing than I used to be.


Tess said...

I don't keep a diary, but I do two other things

1- I blog (it's all about writing stuff...but I say it counts)

2- I belong to a personal history group. We meet once a month and share an written story from our youth. Then we each put those stories in our own three ring binders. I have quite a nice history going and it's fun to gather with friends and eat yummy snacks! Having the scheduled meeting forces us to write and, at one story a month, it's not overwhelming.

Martin Willoughby said...

The personal history group is a BRILLIANT idea. I might start one over here.

Anonymous said...

I keep a diary (journal) for the benefit of my writing, however, that's not the real reason. When I first started as a child, I found that writing in a diary helped "release the pressure build-up in my mind."

I put my thoughts on paper to get them the heck out of my head!!

Martin Willoughby said...

I never wrote my frustrations down, I locked myself away and 'dreamed' them away to far off lands and planets.