2: Keep a Daily Diary

So many kids say they want to become writers – but when it comes down to it, they don’t actually do much writing! The ONLY way to become a great writer is to write, and write, and write again. But how do you get started? And what are you going to write about? Even famous authors will tell you that a blank sheet of paper can be the scariest thing in the world! This is where Top Tip Number Two comes into play: the best way to start a regular writing habit is to keep a diary – every day!


Keeping a daily diary is fun! It isn’t difficult to write, it doesn’t take much time, but it’s a fabulous tool for a budding author!

WHY should you keep a diary?

Here are some great reasons to keep a diary:

  • It’s hard to write a story or an essay every day – but writing in a diary is easypeasy. Things happen to you every day – and no matter how small those things might seem to other people, if they matter to you, they’re worth writing about.
  • Nobody but you lives YOUR life. So keeping a diary about things that have happened to you during the day, or how you feel about things, is the most original writing you can create! And because your diary is private, no one but you can decide what to write or how to write it. And that’s a great way to find your own unique voice, both as a writer and as a person.
  • Diaries are like dogs – they love you unconditionally. No matter what you write, your diary will still be there for you the next day. This gives you complete freedom to explore your private thoughts and feelings on paper, without anyone to comment or criticize – no parents, teachers, siblings or friends – you’re a free agent. Creative freedom and freedom of expression – these are essential conditions to develop writing that is truly great.
  • Diaries provide wonderful material for creative writing at a later date. There’s nothing as true or fresh as a heartfelt contemporaneous record of something that happened to you. So you can borrow from your diary to your heart’s content years later, and your writing will look as fresh and genuine as if it had happened to you yesterday. Now that’s a way to write with IMPACT!
  • Diaries can be important records of special times and places, even hundreds of years, later! Some of the world’s greatest diarists were simply ordinary people living through extraordinary times, and the records they wrote about things that happened to them or those around them have become very important sources for researchers and historians today. The diary kept by Samuel Pepys (pronounced Peeps) in London in the 1600s is extremely famous today; he wrote eyewitness accounts of the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London that are crucial to our understanding of those events today. James Boswell’s daily journals of his life in London in the 1700s and of his journey with Samuel Johnson to the outer Hebrides in Scotland are now regarded as classics of English literature; and then there is perhaps the most famous diary in the world, kept by Anne Frank, a young German Jewish girl, from the age of 13 to 15 whilst she and her family were living in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam. Her diary has become one of the most widely read books in the world today!

WHAT should you write about in your diary?

As a diarist, the world is your oyster! You can write about anything you like! You might write about things that happened to you during the day, like winning a race at school …or coming last; you might write about getting ticked off by a teacher, and how embarrrassed you felt; or being left out of a game or a playdate; or how much you want a pet; or how much you hate your mum’s cooking or love your dad’s new car. You might write about how much you miss your grandparents, or how you feel about a new friend. You might write about a movie you saw or a book you read, or what you want for your birthday. You might even comment on a news item; how you feel about world events like the war in Aghanistan or global warming. No one can tell you what to write about – you write about what YOU think is important, and that’s all that matters.

WHEN should you write in your diary?

Most diarists write in their diaries just before bed – and that’s certainly a sensible time. It’s quiet, you’re on your own, and you’ve got time to think about what happened during the day. But another great time to write is when you’re feeling something really, really strongly. You might be feeling incredibly happy about something, or really sad; you might be feeling extremely angry, or disappointed, or excited or nervous. When you write at the times you are feeling things the most, your words will flow like water, and when you read what you have written later on, you’ll be amazed at the power of your words!

HOW OFTEN should you write in your diary?

Daily is best, if you can manage it! It’s really rare for a day to pass without something to write about – and even if you think your day was boring, you can always write about the best thing that happened or the worst thing that happened. The more often you write, the better you’ll get at it and the easier it will seem. If you set a regular time to write every day and stick to it, you’ll soon develop a writing habit. And we all know that the things we do by habit become the things we do the very best.

So if you want to become a great writer; to find your own unique writing voice; to get into the writing habit; to create a memory bank for future use; even maybe to become a world famous diarist in a hundred year’s time (!), start keeping a daily diary right now, and watch how your writing gets better and better every day!

Copyright Sarah Brennan 21st May 2012

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