Blogging Versus Keeping a Personal Diary

Woman writing

I have tried to keep a diary for a few years now, but I’ve never got far, until I started blogging. Handwritten diaries are tedious, computer diaries are distracting, both feel like monologues. For me, they become boring after a while, and must be abandoned. With my blog, however, the more I post, the more I want to post.

I think that keeping a diary is a good thing for a writer. It helps you capture fleeting emotions, analyze recurring dreams, and develop thoughts. All records can be later used for inspiration.

I see my blog as a diary, although it might not be that in the strict sense of the word. My entries are mostly about writing, not life events. But I live in my mind, and I stay in my attic all the time, and not much happens to my body. My blog so far is a summary of my mental life, as meagre as that is.

Traditional diaries are selfish. And they can be limiting, just as first-person narratives. With a blog, however, you always know that there is at least one other person reading your entry, and that makes you chose your words with care, and consider carefully the things you want to talk about. You will think twice before sharing anything with the world, and this is a protection against trivial entries, which abound in most diaries.

Blogging is not a monologue but a conversation. I have received many thought-provoking comments, and some made me change the way I view the world. I would have not had the benefit of comments if I kept a private diary.

I don’t read my blog posts, but I reckon that I might do it in a few years, when nostalgia about my younger years will seize me. My blog will always be there waiting for me. The same cannot be said of a dairy, which can be misplaced, lost, or damaged.

It’s easier to carry on with a blog than with a pen and paper diary. Your good entries are rewarded with positive comments and likes and views. It’s easier to do something and to enjoy doing it when you can get something in return for your efforts. Even when the rewards are virtual, they matter.

On some days I feel that blogging is a distraction, and that I would better spend the few hours I devote to it weekly to more literary endeavors. But I have to admit that my writing has improved since I started blogging, and dark corners of my mind have lighted up a bit, and I have also met a few interesting persons. And then I’ve also ordered my thoughts a bit.

In the end I see no harm in blogging, so long as you post with moderation, and only after your daily writing is done.

Do you keep a diary?

(Any typos or grammatical/syntactical errors in this post should be interpreted as lack of editing time, rather than as poor writing ability.)

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70 thoughts on “Blogging Versus Keeping a Personal Diary

  1. I don’t keep a diary, though I’ve started many over the years. I usually get to day 3 or 4 and then I start to resent my handwriting style. So, no more diaries for me. I love blogging, I agree with the reward factor. It’s motivating to get likes and comments, validating my writing when sometimes I have a hard time appreciating it myself. Great post as usual, keep ’em coming 😉

    1. The handwriting style thing is one of the reasons I can’t keep a diary haha, I hate that. But I think I’m gonna give to the blogging thing a go.

  2. I have kept a diary since I was seven, but I must say that habit has suffered since I started my blog. The blog holds me more responsible since I know that people are waiting for my posts. Nobody but I know if I have written in my diary or not.

    That being said, I still feel that it is important to keep the personal journal. It gives me an outlet where I can say absolutely anything without censoring myself in the least. That is the only place where I can let it all out. Having kept a diary for so many years, I can see how it has benefited me. First of all, it retains my memories. There have been many things that I had forgotten about until I read about it in my journal. I am sure that will be even more important as the years go on. The diary also gives me insight into how I have solved problems in the past or at the very least, it puts my problems into perspective. When I go back and read old entries, I am reminded of who I was and how I have become the person I am. There is nothing that can replace that.

    1. I did not try to suggest that a diary has become useless. I myself would keep one if I had more time.

      A diary is like a mirror to your soul I think.

      But it takes courage to look into that mirror.

      I like your comment.

      I tip my hat!

      1. I understand that it is not a practice for everyone. You are certainly correct that it takes courage to look into that mirror. There are times when I read what my younger self wrote and CRINGE.

  3. I agree with you, especially in the fourth paragraph. Diaries are good in theory but blogging is BETTER by far, and yes writing has become more creative shared publicly; also reading others fresh posts lends color to ones perspective, not only of the world, but of ones-self in the world.
    (chuckles) Unlike you, I look at all of my posts together quite regularly, (coughs, blushes) 🙂 as it fuels my process of ideas, and there I develop my style, and grow it on to the next post. But your way, I think, would be great; looking back over some time would be fun. I also have come to enjoy comments and replying. I am so glad I am not shy or scared of this anymore. It’s a very enjoyable thing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts the way you do. I really like your blog.

    1. I too was abashed when I first started, but now most of the shyness went away. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad.

      I don’t have time to read my posts. 🙂

      (Nor the courage.)

      1. It’s a good thing! Much to be said for spontaneity in this, your blog. It keeps you flowing, no doubt good for your other writing that you can give more time to and perhaps obsess over.

  4. Vincent, I have kept a personal journal for fourteen years…and while it has perhaps been selfish, well, I think my newly created blog is, too. The benefit of the journal was self-preservation at a difficult time. The benefit of the blog is, as you say, a conversation with others after getting sick of myself, and sometimes those rewards you speak of. While it’s true, moving outward to an audience influences what we write, I would not necessarily say it always guards against trivialities (sadly); and I agree with Jessica@capeofdreams that sometimes, you just need to be able to write things, uncensored–and no one else really should see them! So for me, both blogging and journaling have their place. Both are worthwhile, and both, I will continue doing! Great topic.

    1. I did not mean that one is better than the other. The title might be a misleading.

      A diary has benefits that a blog doesn’t.

      Those who can keep both must be commended!

  5. I used to keep a diary, did so for years, but now I have arthritis in my right thumb and writing by hand is difficult. Now, my blog is more or less my diary.

  6. A famous writer (don’t remember which) said that keeping a diary was one of the best things a writer could do. I completely agree — it would be enormously helpful for writing a memoir or even a novel. However, I’ve never had the discipline to keep one for more than a few months. Someday, maybe.

  7. Just like a diary can be misplaced, it’s probably important to remember that a bunch of people, somewhere, own the internet. If they decided to suddenly shut it down, replace it with another technology or upgrade it, blogs may (unfortunately) become obsolete, so nothing we really create on our blogs is permanent.
    As for whether or not I keep a diary, I don’t, but I do keep a handmade book that I scribble down random things that interest me.

  8. I just started this venture, and using it as a diary never crossed my mind, I just wanted to write and tell my story or perhaps pass along a few helpful tips I’ve found. So far this has been a good experience for me in my endeavors to become a better writer and to get published.

  9. I think the transcendence and cadence of words strike the mind and produce evocative thought, rather than a blog. I carry a journal near my chest, and I write hastily. But I love blog posting just as well! You share certain thoughts that are only, but glimpses of what is written somewhere else,

    P.S. I have finally mustered this twisted woman to comment. 🙂

  10. I use to have a diary that I wrote for about a week… I’m not a diary type to be honest. It just doesn’t feel naturally to me. But I believe it could be a great gift to those who feel it. And even more later to their sons or daughters of their sons or daughters of their sons of daughters…
    At least it always look so fascinating in the movies…

    I think blogging, the way you do it, that is WRITE is more valuable for you than a diary. Exactly because it makes you more aware of what you write and how you write it. It makes you try harder, push your skills.

    Although I have to say, I don’t edit my posts and I rarely write much ( my comments to your posts are often much longer than the content of my blog post). My blog is mostly ’bout pretty things. Things to which words aren’t necessary. I believe I would develop a lot if I did what you do.

    1. Serves me well for challenging Julie to write longer comments!

      I like your comments much, but you know that already. What I’m beginning not to like is your ’bouts and your chilin’ and the like. Is Julie into rap perchance?

      An evening or two of Chopin or at least Beethoven can cure the apostrophe affliction.

      PS: Too bad you haven’t read 7 Monstrous Activities… You’ve missed an interesting reference. Can’t say more.

      1. I didn’t even know there’s such thing as “7 Monstrous Activities”! Honestly, I’m so ordered and nice that I need a bit of ” ’bouts” and “chillin’ “. Does that have anything to do with rap? Well… if it’s good, I’ll appreciate it. But it’s just so rarely good to my ears… I’m a romantic soul that likes to keep her feet on the ground, cause her heart is way up flying…

        Vincentiu, do you think “bouts” and “chilin’s” and so on sound bad? You have a writings blog which means your phrases should always be zipped to the last button ( i know that sentence isn’t correct, but I like it. zipped to the last button… 🙂 ). My blog has a different way. But should it still be more “well educated”?

  11. I keep what I call a free writing journal, written as often as I can, but iconsistently at times. They’re nothing about my daily activities, but more about my thoughts and the things I’ve seen.My blog pieces often arise from these short daily ramblings. You make many good points above, especially about how blogging improves writing.

  12. Sometimes I keep a diary, sometimes not, it varies greatly for me. I get bored or just forget and I have never, ever completed a full diary. I keep making new ones, I love new paper 🙂 And that drives my mom insane 😀

  13. My blog is the closest thing I have to a diary. I’ve learned so much just from the process of doing it. I also learn valuable things from my own posts, as if I haven’t properly learned a lesson until I’ve shared it…

  14. “I don’t read my blog posts, but I reckon that I might do it in a few years, when nostalgia about my younger years will seize me. My blog will always be there waiting for me. The same cannot be said of a dairy, which can be misplaced, lost, or damaged.”

    And then Skynet goes live. Lol. Thought-provoking read, Boy in the Hat. 🙂

    1. I don’t believe you are Aussie because I have been told that everything in Australia is yellow, including girls’ hair. Yours is inky or thereabouts, therefore you are not Aussie. New Zeeland perchance?

      1. Lol. No! Definitely Aussie. But my father is Chilean, and so my hair is inky and my eyes are dark. Almond-shaped too. Some people think I’m of Asian descent. :p

  15. An interesting post. I used to keep a note of things that were important to me, not so much a diary but one of sorts, I guess. I didn’t like the idea that if I died people might read it and either misinterpret, judge or assume greater importance to things than they were due so I stopped. There have been some good points here -maybe I’ll start again… Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. “I didn’t like the idea that if I died people might read it and either misinterpret, judge or assume greater importance to things than they were due so I stopped.”

      Let’s just think of Anne Frank…

  16. No one could ever think you lacked any kind of writing ability, dear hatted boy. Never forget that.

    I kept a diary, or journal, for years. Have a big box of them hiding in my closet. But no longer. I find writing journal entries tedious and somewhat discouraging. I end up writing about the same things over and over again.

    It can, however, be interesting to go back and look at what you were going through at certain times life. It is amazing how easily we forget.

    I too am really enjoying blogging. As I look back through previous entries, I find that my writing has very much improved, and that is satisfying. But the dialogue with others, and the interesting people I meet, is truly rewarding. It makes me feel less lonely.

    I’m glad to hear that some of the dark corners of your mind are lighting up a bit. It’s good to get out of your attic once in a while, even if it is only in your head.

    1. If Jessica were oceanic, she would be a mermaid.

      How do you like that? 🙂

      Have you shared your diaries with anyone? Do you ever plan to? If not, how will you safeguard them against impolite fingers? Do you have a basement?

      1. No basement. No need. I’ve nothing to hide. Especially not from you. 😉

        I’d prefer to be a dolphin, actually. They’re so playful. And lovely. But I see the parallel… What about you, dear Vincent? What would you be?

  17. One of my favourite posts. I keep a journal and have done so ever since I was 9. It definitely helps with inspiration and you learn a lot about yourself when you read past journals and see how much you’ve changed. I don’t know how long I’ll keep writing in them though.

      1. Then perhaps whoever ends up reading it can learn something. I’m human after all, I’m fallible, but that doesn’t mean I’ve done shameful things that I’d hate for anyone to find out.
        Or maybe I just don’t write down the shameful things that I end up doing. 😉
        Ok the last part was just me being cheeky.

  18. Hello Vincent. I find diary keeping very easy, its the blogging that I have difficulty with, as you can probably tell, I dont post very often and if i happen to post a few passages one day, I’m not seen on Omniatalk, until the next urge hits me. But my diary is over flowing with life, with trivial daily details and amazing weekly happenings.
    Its easier for me to keep my thoughts inside, its hard to share. In a way, my thought are gold to me . And sometimes, I don’t want to share.

  19. I also feel my overall writing has improved since blogging – trying to ‘do’ something every day is a big challenge and a great discipline, which one needs for writing….

  20. Hmmm, thought-provoking post. I’ve kept a diary since I was around eight. Though it used to be for dutifully chronicling significant events in my life, I now write in my diary to sort of spell things out, try to make sense of them. I (attempt to) blog when I think those secret thoughts might resonate with someone else. 🙂

  21. Hello are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new
    to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you
    need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog? Anny help would bee really appreciated!

  22. I loved reading this article. Every word so relatable at a time in my life where I’m picking up my book-form secret diaries I left behind in my teens and continuing them but now shared with the world in 21st century format. I’d love your support with my blog/vlog/diary/journal/memoirs – whatever name you want to put to it. I’m over at SamiLoton.blogspot.co.uk and I’d love some encouragement for my brand new venture! Thanks for the great read 😀

  23. I enjoyed this post immensely. At times in my life I have kept a diary/journal, mainly to help me make sense of some of the people or events that littered my daily landscape. I took pleasure in handwriting my journal until my hands got older and my handwriting began to suffer. Now handwriting (anything) brings me no joy; typing my blog is preferable. Thank you for posting this entry.

  24. I’m curious as to why you think traditional diaries are selfish?

    I’ve kept a pen-and-paper diary since I was a wee tot of eight years old, writing about my infatuation with Lord of the Rings. I agree that blogs make you want to write more, also that they will always be there, and are far less likely to be misplaced or damaged.

    1. I, too, keep a diary, and I find that the writing that goes into it is rather self-absorbed… With a blog I think more about the audience, about other people, about concerns that are not mine alone. 🙂

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