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What kind of person keeps a journal?

December 11, 2022 7 min read

What kind of person keeps a journal?

A diary is a record kept on paper or digitally that details the events of a day or longer period of time in separate entries. Traditional diaries were written by hand, but nowadays many people use digital ones instead. A personal diary is a record of the author's thoughts, feelings, and experiences; it does not include commentary on matters of public interest. A diary-keeper is also called a diarist. Many parts of human civilization rely on institutional diaries, such as government records (such as Hansard), commercial ledgers, and military records. The word can also mean a ready-made issue of a publication in British English.

The phrase is now commonly used for private journals that may be shared only with close friends and family. A diary is one in which entries are made every day (from the Latin word for "day"), while a journal may be written less frequently.

Can men have a journal?

A diary is often written for the author's own use and is not intended for publication, though it may be used as source material for a memoir, autobiography, or biography. Some diaries, such as those kept by Ned Rorem, Alan Clark, Tony Benn, and Simon Gray, have revealed internal evidence in recent years suggesting that they were written with publication in mind, with the purpose of self-vindication (pre- or postmortem), or just for profit.

girl writing a journal

Diary can also apply to different types of journals, such as electronic ones, as well as to printed publications of diaries.
The Latin term diarium is where we get our word "diary." Journal derives from the same source, the Old French jurnal (the current French term for "day" is jour).

Ben Jonson's comedy Volpone from 1605 features the first known use of the word "diary" to refer to a book in which a daily record is maintained.


The Diary of Merer, an ancient Egyptian logbook, describes the shipment of limestone from Tura to Giza, most likely to coat the exterior of the Great Pyramid, and is thus the earliest document known to resemble a diary. Although the first known diaries came from the Middle East and East Asia, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius' To Myself ( v), also known as the Meditations, was written in Greek in the second part of the second century AD and already has several diary-like qualities. Examples of this type of writing can be seen in the pillowbooks of Japanese court women and Asian trip journals, however they often do not consist solely of diurnal notes.

Medieval people in the Middle East began keeping diaries in Arabic well before the 10th century. The 11th-century diary of Abu Ali ibn al-Banna is the earliest surviving example of a diary written in this style. Similar to contemporary diaries, his diary is the oldest example of its kind to be organized chronologically.

nice journal writing

Medieval mystics' daily journals, forerunners to the contemporary diary, focused on introspective feelings and external events interpreted in terms of their significance to the mystical life of the author.

Some people, starting in the Renaissance, wanted to write down their thoughts and feelings, but they didn't plan on publishing them like medieval chronicles and itineraries did. The anonymous Journal d'un bourgeois de Paris, which covers the years 1405-1449 and provides subjective commentary on current events, is one of the earliest surviving examples. Diaries by Florentines Buonaccorso Pitti and Gregorio Dati and Venetian Marino Sanuto the Younger are three famous instances from the 14th to 16th century Renaissance that were published centuries after their original writing. Even mundane daily events are recorded in these diaries alongside extensive introspection, emotional anguish, and subjective impressions.

The Smythson firm introduced the world to the first lightweight diary in 1908.

Books containing diaries

An integral part of autobiographical literature are the many published diaries written by famous people.

Famous diarist Samuel Pepys (1633–1703) kept his journals in Magdalene College, Cambridge, and in 1825 they were transcribed and published for the first time. When it comes to personal reflection, Pepys was one of the earliest to expand the diary's scope beyond noting economic transactions. Both Pepys and John Evelyn, a contemporary of Pepys' who also kept a significant journal, are considered to be among the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period due to their eyewitness accounts of major events like the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.

In the nineteenth century, it became common practice to publish the diaries of deceased writers and other cultural figures. A few instances are the 1897 publication of Dorothy Wordsworth's (1771–1855) Grasmere Journal, the 1889 release of Fanny Burney's (1752–1840) journals, and the 1869 release of Henry Crabb Robinson's (1776–1867) diaries.
writing in a journal
A number of significant U.S. A lawyer from New York, George Templeton Strong, kept a diary during the Civil War, and the wife of a Confederate officer, Mary Chesnut, kept a diary as well. Jemima Condict kept a diary throughout the American Revolutionary War while she was a resident of the region that is now West Orange, New Jersey.

Since the nineteenth century, it has become normal practice for people (often politicians looking for an alibi, but also artists and writers of all stripes) to publish diaries they wrote themselves. Published political diaries by British politicians from the late 20th century include those of Richard Crossman, Tony Benn, and Alan Clark, with the last being more frank in the vein of Chips Channon's writings. British artists James Lees-Milne, Roy Strong, and Peter Hall all published diaries that were popular with readers. In the mid-20th century, Harold Nicolson wrote about both politics and the arts.

Posthumously released after Anne Frank's death, The Diary of a Young Girl is one of the most frequently read and translated modern diaries. Frank wrote it while hiding from the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam in the 1940s. After the war, Otto Frank had his daughter's diary edited and published. Before the diary could be released in other countries, it went through extensive revisions. Some libraries had already banned it due to its sexually explicit content.

Also, many people in the 20th century and beyond wrote diaries as a deliberate exercise of self-exploration (with varying degrees of sincerity), as seen by the works of Carl Jung, Aleister Crowley, and Anas Nin, among many others. Diaries written by prominent authors of the 20th century include those by Franz Kafka, Edmund Wilson, and the French writer Paul Léautaud (1872–1956). Saint Faustina recorded her discussions and visions with Jesus in her introspective diary titled Divine Mercy in My Soul.

Having an audience for one's self-expression can have a profound psychological effect, especially in times of difficulty, even if the audience is just oneself reading one's own words in a book. Anne Frank even referred to her journal as "Kitty," whereas a Nazi court officer in Germany named Friedrich Kellner titled his notebook "Mein Widerstand," his opposition to the Nazi regime. In a similar vein, Victor Klemperer kept diaries detailing the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and its successor state, East Germany, for posterity's sake. In many circumstances, though, the authors weren't aiming for a book deal.
writings in a journal

Online journals

As internet access spread, many people started using it as yet another way to keep a diary, but this time with the extra incentive of having an audience. As far as can be determined, Claudio Pinhanez's Open Diary, which ran from 14 November 1994 to 1996 on the MIT Media Lab website, was the first online diary. Other early online diarists include Justin Hall, who has kept an online journal for the past eleven years, Carolyn Burke, who published her first entry in her diary on 3 January 1995, and Bryon Sutherland, who launched his diary The Semi-Existence of Bryon in a USENET newsgroup on 19 April 1995.

Unpublished diaries, such as that of Michael Shiner, a 19th-century slave who chronicled his life in Washington, D.C., have also been brought to the notice of historians and other readers thanks to the internet.

Open Diary (launched in October 1998) and LiveJournal (launched in January 1999) were two early web-based systems that simplified and automated online publication; nonetheless, the rise of blogs marked the beginning of a new era in personal narrative. While the format was originally centered on outside links and commentary on current events, blogs were swiftly transformed into digital journals with the help of popular blogging programs. Recent developments have also made it possible to keep online diaries anonymously. Some modern diary apps, for instance, encrypt its users' writings with a protocol like 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), while others need a PIN to be entered on a secure USB device before granting access to the diary.

Personal diaries in digital form

As smartphone use has increased, so too has the availability of mobile apps that serve as diaries or journals for both iOS and Android. Proponents of digital journaling software have noted a variety of benefits, such as the capacity to type quickly and easily, access the notebook from anywhere, and perform thorough searches. Like user interaction on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, digital diaries are designed for more spontaneous, shorter-form writing.

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