The Art of Keeping a Journal – Your Future-Self Won’t Know What LOL Meant

Since July 31, 1986, I’ve kept a journal.

Off and on.

It was a five-year diary. One of my best friends in elementary school was leaving Arborg for Winnipeg, and the diary was a goodbye gift.

The diary had small spaces, and I wrote little context. Sometimes just, “Had a good weekend,” and “Saw a movie.” As I said, little context.

When we’re writing in our diaries, sometimes we don’t think, will we know who Carey K was in 2020? Or why you left a party upset? How about what LOL and OMG. There is a chance we could forget.

After reading some of my older diaries, I wrote in a current diary, “… and I just thought OMG (future Tammy: Oh my, God) why would you do that?” I write this once, because if I can’t remember what OMG means when I’m 60, I’ll either figure it out, or come across it again.

Here are some other tips for your journal. I wish I thought of some of these when I first started.

  • As I said, context. Did you see a movie? Cool. What movie with a quick rundown. Did you like the movie? Why or why not? Did you go with anyone? Who? First and last names, please. You. Will. (Possibly) Forget.
  • Write in pen. Never pencil. This seems like a simple “why would anyone write in pencil.” When I was in grade eight, yep, pencil. This is mainly for parents or guardians who want their child or children to start a diary.
  • If you had an awesome night, describe everything. When you’re 25, you might write a short rundown. But your 40-year-old self will be, like, I went where and did what and why?
  • Went to a bar? What was the name? Restaurant? Same question. What if those restaurants and bars aren’t around in five, 10, or 15 years? Even better, where was the bar, restaurant, establishment. Street names, town, and so forth change as well.
  • Don’t pressure yourself into writing everyday. I recommend at least every second or third day. Because writing about what happened over the course of four months is difficult. Trust me on this one.
  • Write about the highs and lows in your life. I didn’t write about my high school graduation for two months – and it wasn’t in detail. I barely wrote about grade 12, period. Not a word about moving to Winnipeg. Nothing the day before my wedding day. I did write about my first brain tumour. And breaking my arm in 2004.
  • If you’re going on a trip or a close series of trips, I recommend buying a special diary to write about your experiences.

  • It’s not creepy to staple obituaries into your diary. Or to keep stickers from voting. Or that sticker you wore from your workplace’s open house.
  • Buy different styles of diaries. Coil, binded, magnetic closure. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable process. And you want to write in something that’s nice.
  • Invest in comfortable pens. Or a diary specific pen. The diary pen. Make sure it’s comfortable. Especially when there will be one-hour diary vent nights.
  • A journal is a creative outlet. If you can’t express your feelings through words – draw or sketch.
  • You don’t have to buy expensive diaries. They’re sold at Dollarama¬† and Dollar Tree, and they’re just as nice.
  • Keep track of your dreams too. In fact, if you have vivid dreams, start a separate dream journal.
  • Note down what # means. It went from the number sign to a hashtag, and it could change again. Think about your future self.
  • Remember, diaries are meant for pouring out your feelings. However, when you have two or three diaries with the same theme, it’s time to switch gears. Write about your feelings, but write a solution to the issue.

Hopefully, these tips help you journal – or modify your diary style. Remember, your diary keeps your secrets. Highs, lows, crushes, disasters, regrets, fears, accomplishments, and so forth.

It’s your best friend.

And some days, a diary can feel like your only friend.