On the eve of 31st December, I plopped down on my house’s rooftop with my black diary to consider my 2016. I read some funny memories, few achievements I’d forgotten. I even came across some great thoughts I couldn’t believe had popped out of my own brain. The very same brain which ten pages ago — sprouted doggerel about losing my shoelaces in school.
The number of things that happened in 2016 blew me away. I can’t spill all, (my teachers will sue me for libel), but there’s a catch. It was such a deep and reflective experience dear reader — I couldn’t resist but hand you just one last 2017 resolution.
By now, I know your list’s spread longer than a toilet paper roll anyway.
So here’s a case for scribbling diaries.
1. Journaling Pulls Moments to Life
I know you can whip out a camera faster today, than your mom can nag you into picking up a pen. Way of the future generation, yes. But writing something is like inking it in your muscle memory, you don’t just have a click-button image.
You have the feeling, the atmosphere, a bright thought inspired out of that memory. Writing makes you creative.
Here’s a live example. Somewhere in April, I’d talked to a Korean classmate who told me about his homeland and his culture. I had written down that he was shy and gentlemanly.
Then something magical happened as I sat there reading, because I could suddenly see the sharp planes of his face, the laughter in his eyes.
I was back there.
That is the power of journaling.
Months later, even after I had moved far away from my old school and friends — I could see them again. Their characters still came to life on the pages.
So doesn’t writing just have a vague beauty? It immortalizes your moments in way (don’t roll your eyes at me young lady) Snapchat cannot.
2. The Unputdownable Novel.
My diary was a big wad of pages. Ink, pencils, glitter pens, even lipstick in a desperate locked out moment. And I was quite proud of it actually, of it’s great thumping weight. Reading it through was a funny experience.
I was the heroine of this story. I saw her get up, rant through the days, battle silly fears. I saw her scared when she was alone in a park full of smoking kids. I saw her cheer up after a bad school day, churning out terrible inspirational quotes. I saw her fall down and stand up, travel, and help people. I saw her laugh.
It was like reading about another person, but somebody you can clearly see now.
Sappy drama or not, you can’t walk away from your diary. It’s your life, your adventures. It becomes the unputdownable novel.
Everyone has discussed the therapeutic power of journaling. It releases the stress in your head, it gives you space and clarity to work through problems. It is a record of you, a memory of your life in this particular age, your thoughts, your anxieties, frustrations, your blood and dreams.
What would your older self give for a chance to read your mind, now?
Maybe what is earth shattering to you, will be arbitrary to her. What pains you about yourself, could be what sets you apart tomorrow. Maybe she’ll laugh over your silly thoughts, smile at your memories.
Here’s a big incentive then, if you’re not much into self reflection:
Journaling gives a personal viewpoint in a history — which seems cold when taught to us in classrooms. Pepys and Anne Frank would never know what significance their diaries would have in our understanding of their time.
What if earthquakes shatter and crumble the most of earth in 2017?
How will our children know about Harry Potter, the latest Swift hit, what the heck a duck face is if you don’t record it?
3. Getting it Off Your Chest
Readers, as I write this, I know I face the grim reality that most of you find this boring. It seems like a chore to write a page every day.
When you get down to it, I promise you — it’s like sprouting a fountain.
Most people struggle through the day & fall to bed, simply praying for a better one tomorrow. A diary lets you distill and clarify your thought, calm your nerves, understand the people and problems that get under your skin.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve come to the page heavy hearted. and left it feeling lighter. I was reminded of all the little bright things that had happened that day. Writing is therapy, in the truest sense of the word.
You already have the day’s happenings before you, so it’s impossible to feel like you’re giving an English exam. You must be feeling something.
Literary giant Stephen King said, ‘Never come to the page empty.’ Your imagination can give words to your feelings— in ways you can’t believe. Some of the best sentences I ever wrote were in my journal.
When you’re full on emotions, a kind of creative cold shower takes place.
Here’s a sentence of my own. I had written this after seeing my teenaged brother at the airport, after 2 months, after he’d travelled for six tournaments worldwide.
‘There was something wired and burnt about him. Hardened steel in his eyes. I feel like my brother has become an adult.’
4. You Are Braver Than You Think
I guarantee it, this is you in an year’s time: ‘I had no idea that happened this year! I can barely sit without trembling in my chair.’
Sound more like a seizure than pure joy? My reaction wasn’t far off the mark.
Things slip our memory all the time. Our achievements, everything we’ve lived through. When you write a diary, it is like a ringing bell in your head. You read it whenever you feel worthless inside and you’ll realise how much fire you’ve gone through already.
The biggest gift a journal can give you — is the staggering proof of your own worth.
Writing a journal shoots your self esteem on steroids. It’s worth the five minutes you’ve spent everyday.
It will make you see the magic of the world around you.
And that, is perhaps the single biggest reason I’m asking you to start a diary this 2017.