A Guide to Personal Diary Writing

Explore the power of journalling to improve your performance, focus and well-being.

Writing a diary can be a very good tool for processing thoughts, dealing with difficult situations, and reflecting on your private and work life. It forces you to articulate your thoughts and observe them for what they are and not letting negatve thoughts spiral out of control. This can lead you to become less reactive and more calm in challenging situations. I have found a way of journalling that works for me and my needs. However, there is not just one correct way to do it – you need to find a way that works for you. Here I will give you some thoughts, tips, and ideas on how you can get started.

Some initial tips and rules:

  • Get a physical dairy – we spend to much time behind screens. Let this be a moment to unplug and not get distracted by other things.
  • This diary is only for you and should not be read by anyone else. Have a converation with people in your household about this. It is really important that you feel secure that nobody will read you dairy if it is laying around.
  • When you write a diary, don't hold back and censor yourself because you think it seems brutal. Thoughts are just thoughts; they are not actions.
  • Start a new paragraph with today's date. This way, you can easily look back later and know exactly when you wrote it. This can be very useful when you suddenly have written for a couple of years and can go back and see what has been going on in your mind.
  • You choose how often you want to write – every day, once a week, or month, or as needed. For me, it goes very sporadically.
  • A good way to keep a diary is to regularly write about something related to a question or a theme. For example, what you are grateful for, or goals you want to achieve. Then write down all thoughts and answers that come to you related to this question or theme.
  • Bullet lists can be useful if you find it difficult or time-consuming to formulate full sentences.
  • Don't overthink structure and aesthetics in the beggining– this is just for you. The most important thing is to just start – then you'll find an aesthetic and structure that works for you over time. This can take months, years or a lifetime.

Examples of questions and activities:

Question: What are you grateful for since the last time you wrote?

Gratitude is one of the most important things you can practice. This is because it helps you focus on the positive in your life and what you have, instead of focusing on what you lack or what could have been better. Research suggests that gratitude is strongly linked to living a meaningful life. It can also help improve your overall health and well-being. People who are good at being grateful often also experience an increased sense of happiness. This is a skill that becomes easier the more you practice it. In the beginning, challenge yourself to write at least 5 things.

Examples of things to be grateful for:

  • Something a friend, colleague, or family member did.
  • Something that tasted good.
  • Something that happened recently.
  • A pleasant conversation you had.
  • A special moment.
  • Something you've achieved recently.
  • A stranger who said hello and gave you a smile.

Question: Is there something you want to let go of?

Not everything is positive, and it's important not to overlook negative experiences or thoughts. Identify, write down, and acknowledge negative thoughts or experiences you want to let go of.

Examples of things to let go of:Thoughts or feelings that don't serve you.Irritation over someone or something, which is rarely productive.An attitude you want to change.Something that has made you uncomfortable.Something you want to do less of.

Question: Do you have something you want to do or achieve in the coming period?

The purpose of this question is to motivate you to look forward in a positive way. Think about what you want to achieve. This can be anything from big and important goals to small changes you want to implement.


  • Include everything from small, short-term daily goals to big, long-term things.
  • Long-term goals should be broken down into smaller sub-goals to make them more concrete.
  • Is there something you want to do more of?
  • Is there someone you want to help or give more attention to?
  • Something you want to challenge yourself with?

This image is created using DALL-E, an AI image generation model developed by OpenAI

Drawing Diary

You can also choose to draw in your diary, either as an alternative to or in combination with some of the questions mentioned earlier. When you have some time to yourself, try drawing one of the first objects you see around you. Do it quickly and simply, without spending too much time on it. This is a great way to become more observant of your surroundings. It also helps you relax, as well as maintain and improve your drawing skills.

Streams of Thought

Sometimes you may feel frustrated, sad, or face a difficult situation. Such experiences can often be challenging to handle. Instead of letting these thoughts swirl around in your head endlessly, it can be very helpful to get them down in the diary. Write down today's date and write down everything you think about regarding the situation: what happened, why it happened, how it affected you and your feelings, how the situation could have been handled differently, and what you can do to resolve it. This can help clarify and unravel complex emotions and give a clearer perspective on how to deal with it.

This image is created using DALL-E, an AI image generation model developed by OpenAI

New Year's Reflections

Set aside some time towards the end of the year to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one. Here are some example questions you can ask yourself:

  • What positive things happened during the last year?
  • Think about both the big and small things.
  • What challenges did you face this year?
  • What did you learn from these challenges, and did they have any positive effects on you in any way?
  • What were some of the best memories or moments from the last year?
  • What are your goals for the next year?
  • Is there something specific you want to achieve?
  • Something you want to do more of or less of?

In conclusion

We have now explored just a handful of different methods and approaches to diary writing. However, there are many more ways to do it. On YouTube and Google, you can find many other exciting tools. Whether you choose to write, draw, or something completely different, the goal is the same: to give yourself space to reflect and understand yourself better. I hope this is something you can enjoy.

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