Three Unexpected Benefits of Having a Diary

A couple of months ago, in the peak of burnout, I felt tired and overwhelmed more than ever before. Someone I knew suggested I should start a diary and just write whatever I feel like writing on one condition: I should try doing it every day. I didn’t promise anything, but I decided to give it a try.

I didn’t want a paper diary, even though that was the original suggestion. A lot of my life happens online and I would totally forget carrying around a notebook diary when I travel. Also, I felt like a digital diary connects nicely to my love for taking photos with my phone, because on days where I didn’t feel like writing, I could cheat a bit by adding a photo of something nice I saw this day. I settled with Day One, which seems to be a great choice for someone totally immersed in Apple hardware, because they have apps for pretty much every device.

For two months I tried and failed and tried again and failed again until finally in August I hit my stride. Since 1st of August I only had one day when I missed writing. My notes come in all shapes in sizes: from loose thoughts to multi page brain dumps about everything major that happened during the day. I tend do keep two sections though: at least one thing I’m grateful for or happy with this day and one song that made my day. I love music and I felt like that’s a great addition to the diary.

Habit of writing finally set in: only one day when I didn’t write anything.

Honestly, I was pretty sceptical about this whole diary business, but I can already see a bunch of great things that have come out of it.

Benefit #1: I am more comfortable writing

A bit unexpectedly, I write most of my diary notes in English. It’s not my primary language, but I just feel better that way. And because I write in English, I feel way more comfortable writing everywhere else in English. I’m also way more comfortable writing everywhere else, period, which leads to me coming back to write here on Medium, for example.

Benefit #2: I feel more creative

It’s possible that writing regularly does something to the wiring of my brain, but I noticed that since I started writing — even though it’s just writing for myself—I feel way more creative. My problem solving skills improved, I started having those weird “connect two random things to come up with a clever solution” moments that I had as a kid and in general I feel like my brain is working like it should, rather than being its usual sluggish self that it was during the burnout period. It’s pretty awesome.

Benefit #3: I am happier

This comes down to the format. Every day, I write one thing that made me happy this day. This can be trivial thing like having amazing ramen for lunch or a huge thing like solving a super hard problem that I was struggling with for the longest time. Pretty often this part is just the music part that I mentioned before — there was a song today that made me happy (for quite a while it was this banger by Marshmello, by the way). Having to write down this one thing makes me reflect on good things that happened to me even on the worst of days, resulting in increased happiness all around.

In conclusion, I can highly recommend having a diary and writing every day. Day One is a great choice also because it reminds you to write and gives you clever prompts if you feel empty on the ideas front.

Write. It’s going to feel silly at the beginning, but soon enough you’ll start seeing benefits.

Have fun.

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