When I was a kid, a shopping centre Santa handed over a small package from the ‘girl presents’ pile. It contained an A5 blue book with a cover image of a pond. I was unimpressed until I noticed the lock and key on the side – aha! A secret diary, just for me.
That bored-looking Santa unknowingly started me off in a habit I’ve maintained ever since: recording the details of my life. I filled the little blue book, and several more since, then moved on to Livejournal (oh, the shame) in my teens. These days, I use 750 Words – a site where the goal is just to write 750 completely private, unfiltered words about whatever you want, just for you, every day or whenever you can.
Why should I write a diary?
It absolutely blows me away how much of our own lives we forget. What’s the point of living a minute, a moment, a day if you don’t remember it? Yes, a lot of the details are minutiae – what you had for lunch won’t matter in 10 years. But there are also so many little details you want to remember. People you used to know, conversations that shaped your opinions, amazing and terrible days you’ll smile to recall later. Things people said to you, and about you. There’s a throwaway compliment from someone I don’t speak to anymore in one of my entries, and it touched my heart to see it again.
There’s an old copywriting truth that you can make someone read any amount of text if it’s about them, and it’s true. I find it absolutely fascinating to pore over old entries – even the most mundane things about your life end up being very different as you grow older, and you just won’t remember them if you’re not putting them down somewhere.
You also get some ridiculously interesting metrics about the way you think:
You even get a maturity rating depending on how adult your content is. Mine’s PG.
Is it a pain?
Writing longhand used to hurt my wrist after a while, but typing 750 words is so easy that I sometimes do it on my phone. You can stop before 750 if you want to, and there’s no punishment for not writing every day – just do it as little and often as you feel like. Personally, I found I was using mine the most when I was frustrated with a particular person, and that helped me see a pattern I wouldn’t otherwise have spotted.
It also allows you to give yourself advice. Just talking uninterrupted about whatever’s on your mind helps you to talk it out, realise how you really feel when you’re being completely honest, and figure out what you’d say if a friend confided in you that way. I’ve lost count of the number of epiphanies I’ve had while writing mine.
What if someone finds it?
How discoverable your diary is depends on where you write it. But using 750 Words means it’s password-protected and accessible from the cloud, so you don’t have to keep anything on your hard drive or anywhere it could be discovered.
As long as you don’t give out your password, you’re pretty safe.
Can I see yours?
Hell no. And don’t bother looking for the teenage LiveJournal – thankfully it’s long gone!
Start writing for yourself today. You’ll be glad you did, I promise.