Daydreaming on Paper
May/June 2003
101 Reasons to Keep a Diary/Journal

Why do we do it?

Why do millions of us all over the globe sit down and scribble our innermost thoughts onto a piece of paper? What drives ordinary human beings to take up a pen and record the minutiae of their days? Why do you do it? If you are anything like me, you don't really know. There is no one reason or set of reasons that send me to my writing table every day. All I know is that this is something that I am compelled to do, and that is more than enough reason for me.

But what about those of you who do need a reason? Maybe you have a vague desire to keep a diary, but cannot seem to get started on it because you have not convinced yourself that it is a worthwhile venture. Maybe your internal task master is telling you that this is not the most constructive use of your time. Or, maybe a parent, spouse, or friend just does not get it. They do not understand why you stay up late at night just to write down what you had for dinner. Whatever the circumstance, you find yourself nuturing a niggling seed of doubt. You know that there are perfectly good reasons for keeping a journal; you just cannot think of any.

Well, I can think of several - 101, in fact. Here are 101 reasons to start and benefits to keeping a diary or journal, all of them perfectly valid. Use them to quiet the critic (in whatever form) or to keep yourself motivated. Or read them and simply celebrate a tradition that is almost as old as the written word itself.

Why Keep a Journal?

  1. To store your memories
  2. To hone your craft (writing, art, basketweaving)
  3. To have your say
  4. To provide a history for your unknown descendents
  5. To contain your rage
  6. To chart your progress
  7. To amuse yourself
  8. To play make-believe
  9. To express your narcissistic side
  10. To keep your goals and aspirations in sight
  11. To celebrate the quotidian
  12. To work through grief
  13. To clear your head
  14. To welcome a new life
  15. To develop your spiritual side
  16. To wallow in your materialistic side
  17. To figure out what you want
  18. To have something to do while you are waiting
  19. To remind yourself of what you have
  20. To keep personal records
  21. To keep track of and record your thoughts about all the books you read
  22. To keep all of your favorite quotes in one place
  23. To remind yourself of what videos to rent
  24. To justify your pen obsession, er, collection
  25. To jot down the interesting tidbit you just heard on NPR
  26. To have a place to put all those ticket stubs
  27. To have "something interesting to read on the train"
  28. To record Fido's antics for posterity
  29. To complain about the $7 you just spent on the worst movie of all time
  30. To plot your course
  31. To develop a personal philosophy
  32. To create your own personal almanac
  33. To remember the name (and address) of the bistro that charmed you in Paris
  34. To transcribe the bizarre encounter you just had on the subway
  35. To use as a safe place to rant about all the annoying things that your co-workers do
  36. Because your friends are tired of hearing you complain about your boss
  37. To toot your own horn
  38. To crow about the great bargains you just found
  39. To document changes in your health
  40. To unflinchingly record exactly how many fun-size Twix bars you just ate
  41. To let your inner child have a voice
  42. To let your inner curdemudgen gripe without restraint
  43. To wax poetic about the harvest moon
  44. To remember where to plant the tulips next year
  45. To describe the way a rainy day makes you feel
  46. To work out creative solutions to your problems
  47. To work through a crisis of faith
  48. To express yourself to a loved one in a non-confrontational way
  49. To remember that a teaspoon of cinnamon makes the cookies taste better
  50. To note exactly why your science project just blew up in your face
  51. To test a new set of paints before you try to use them on your current masterpiece
  52. To have a place to put the Hello Kitty stickers you simply could not resist
  53. To ponder the meaning of the intriguing conversation you overheard on the plane
  54. To try and make sense of life's mysteries
  55. To have a tactile experience in a world full of bytes
  56. To remind yourself to slow down
  57. To have something entirely for yourself
  58. To allow yourself time to reflect
  59. To comment on the world around you
  60. To help you figure out how your dream life relates to your waking life
  61. To help you keep track of your hard-earned money
  62. To help you recognize the patterns in your life
  63. To write history from your unique point of view and perspective
  64. To capture all of your great ideas
  65. Because sometimes you would rather write books than read them
  66. So that you can have tangible proof of how much you have grown as a person
  67. To remember who you invited to your last dinner party and what you served them
  68. To remember the exact circumstances under which you knew that he or she was The One
  69. To have a record of your mistakes and the factors leading up to them so that you can avoid making them again
  70. To help you make better use of your time
  71. To recall friends with whom you have lost touch
  72. To have a place to write down all that good advice your grandma gave you
  73. Because you had a wonderful day and want to preserve the happiness that came along with it
  74. Because you had an extrordinarily crappy day and you would rather not bring anyone else down by telling them about it
  75. To remember just what you were thinking when you chose that hideous shade of green for the living room
  76. Because your children are too young to write and they might enjoy looking back on their carefree years
  77. To ease into being more creative and more artistic in your everyday life
  78. To have at least one place where the truth is whole and nothing but
  79. To help you accept yourself and all of your splendid imperfections
  80. To help you make peace with your body
  81. To help you improve your handwriting
  82. To use as a gallery of your own art
  83. To inspire yourself to be a better person
  84. Because keeping a journal is cheaper than therapy
  85. Because your days are unscheduled, varied, and slightly chaotic and you need a ritual to provide some order
  86. Because your life is just as or even more interesting than Friends
  87. Because it is one hobby that does not require an extensive list of expensive supplies
  88. To feel connected to the other people, places, and things in this world
  89. To train yourself to be awake and pay attention
  90. To express your love of the natural world
  91. Because life experiences are easier and cheaper to collect than Beanie Babies (and they take up less space, too)
  92. To relive your glory days
  93. To speculate about the future
  94. To help yourself see the silver lining
  95. To help you transform an event that was most decidely not funny at the time
  96. To remind yourself of everything you have to live for
  97. To have a place to write down the questions that drive you
  98. To keep track of everything you need to do
  99. To help develop your eye
  100. To uncover your passions
  101. Because everyone else is doing it!



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© 2003 Dawn R. Vinson. All Rights Reserved.