Your Written Record

Documenting our lives is something we all do, whether through pictures, detailed letters and emails to friends and family, a personal diary, agendas, a blog, Facebook status updates, etc. There are infinite ways in which we could piece our lives together and reconstruct our own stories. Similar to the discussion about digital calendars or paper planners, digital records and your digital life, is the conversation about a hand written diary v. a digital journal.

Do you keep a diary or a journal? Or did you as a child and teenager? For most of my childhood and teenaged years, I kept a detailed diary that spans many, many notebooks, each one carefully chosen based on what sort of size, cover, paper stock, lines and colors I felt necessary for my writing at the time. These are books that I’ll keep forever. And then, soon after that, I guess life got a little busier and a bit less stressful (I can understand why I wrote more as a teenager), so I didn’t have to write as much. Shortly after that, I discovered the world of blogs: Live Journal, MySpace, Blogger and others. It seemed like an odd idea to me. Why would I write my diary online rather than in a book?

Many people were turning to online forms of journaling and recording their lives, some writing as if no one would ever read it and some writing for all to read. It seemed to me that what I wrote on paper were things I’d never write to the entire internet. While writing online will always be different for me than writing in a book (i.e. less personal), years later, I can see the advantages of an online diary. In a way, your words are stored in a safe place, safe as in, one you will not lose. Your journal entries can include photographs and it’s easier to read type than sloppy handwriting. If you are writing about your kids or everyday life adventures, it’s easy to share stories and photographs with family members and friends in blog form.

However, lost may be so much more. The pure satisfaction of flipping through a completed book, one filled entirely with your own words, is no more. The issue of privacy is not a question as long as you keep your book safe. Handwritten words seem so much more personal than pages of font. Handing down your diaries, if you choose, is easier in a book than writing down every web address.

Then again, with the world of fonts and templates and digital effects that we have access to, a blog can be a very personal place on the internet. Passwords can protect your blog from others reading it. An issue I’ve mentioned before, however, is remembering the URL and passwords.

There can be a modern compromise, if you’re interested. There are now publishing programs that allow you to convert your blog into book format. You can “publish” your book, buy one copy and then you have your digital diary in hard copy. While it’s a great deal more expensive than buying a small, lined notebook, this book can have your pictures and different fonts and formats. Since I keep a variety of books and blogs, I’m tempted to print my blogs into books someday. In the meantime, I’ll start saving my pennies and keep on with my combination of record keeping.

How do you record your life? Did you at one time keep a hand written diary and turn to a blog (password protected or not)? Do you find it easier to type or hand-write your words, and which would you rather have in the long run? I’d rather have books for posterity, and to read when I’m old and gray, but sometimes I’d rather be typing because it can be faster.

5 thoughts on “Your Written Record

  1. Jim says:

    I tell my life stories on my blog. Well, many of them. I tried journaling as a teenager but could never keep up with it. I felt like the exercise was pointless; who would ever read what I wrote?

    • Kaitlin says:

      I agree that some stories I want to share, but there are stories and/or thoughts that maybe I want to keep to myself and that’s why I always kept a diary. I would hate for all of that to be on the internet — the woes of a teenager and all.

  2. Suzassippi says:

    I kept a diary, and later a journal as a child and teenager. I picked it up again about 12 years ago. I mainly journal when I travel, but also many times when there are significant events occurring in my life. I do find it amazing to look back at them for the insights and understanding that seems to emerge when I have a pen in my hand and lined paper in front of me. I still have all my diaries and journals from my early years as well as all the ones from the past 12 years. They stand in a nice little row across my writing desk. One was purchased in London on my first trip there, and one in South Africa on my second trip there.

    My blogs are mostly about history, preservation, and community development, but I have been known to toss in a few personal things from time to time.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Same here about blogs — mostly preservation with some personal essays. And, I love my collection of various diaries (starting at age 8). There is something comforting about a books with all of my thoughts from a certain time in my life. Some make me laugh, some make me cringe, some make me smile, etc. Often it’s a good reminder that whatever was worrying me then worked itself out in the end.

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