Writing in a diary is precious, isn’t it? The first time I realised its beauty I was reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Born into a Jewish family in Hitler’s Germany, Anne maintained a diary during the few years she and her family were hiding from captivation. Her father, the only survivor of the concentration camp that wiped out the family, published her diary. To this day it remains a stunning reminder and a heart-wrenching portrayal of the life of a teenager in wartime.
It was the emotions and the ultimate simplicity of that diary that inspired me to start writing my own diary. Every day I’d record my thoughts, frustration, observations, and general musings. When I looked at the entries months afterwards, I noticed a lot of silly mistakes. But I also saw a lot of potential and my true self coming out of the diary. That’s how I understood so many aspects and characteristics of myself. It was so sincere and so flippant that I saw myself for the first time.
I loved what I discovered so much so that I incorporated diary entries as part of a story I wrote. I had a couple of chapters dedicated to diary entries of my main characters. And I felt the difference, too. I dug deep into the character to extract their innermost emotions, because the diary of a character speaks truer words about them than the character themselves. It’s so because diaries are for personal readership. Anyone who keeps a journal knows that no one would and should read it but themselves. That gives them immense confidence to be themselves and let their guard down.
I did. That’s why I managed to impress myself so. It’s the same of anyone else. Because we know it’s private, we allow ourselves to be real. We charade our true emotions and opinions in public for fear of people hating or misunderstanding them. While we project what we want to project to the world, a diary is where we take a break and project our actual thoughts.
During a particular rough time in my life, I was so self-pitying. No one else who met me would’ve known that at the time. I didn’t realise it myself—until months later I read what I’d written in my diary. It’s such a harsh way of telling yourself who you are and I think that’s a pretty powerful technique in storytelling.
I just started reading a book that’s made up of nothing but diary entries. I’ve only read about 50 pages but I already see the depth at which a journal characterises the person. I see two different personalities in the same journal entry—one when the character narrates what they did in public, and the second when the character writes down how they felt at that moment. There’s a lot of interesting juxtaposition and a beautiful arc of a story.
Although it’s so good so far, I wonder if it’d get boring as the story progresses. Too much of a good thing, perhaps? I can’t wait to find out.