The Trouble With Keeping a Diary

I’ve kept a few diaries whilst I’ve been abroad, starting in Chile. I found it a good way to de-stress at the end of the day and spend some time in my own little world after being surrounded by people all day at school or in the internado. I could lie down, snuggled up in the covers, change my handwriting on every page and write about the mundane things that happened on that day. I started my current diary in India…two weeks after I’d arrived. somehow I always manage to start my diary a good few weeks after I arrive in a new place, it’s never on the first day.

Now I’m in the long process of catching up on my year abroad diary. I’m still six weeks behind and it’s really frustrating at times, well all the time, especially as some of my daily notes to help me remember what I did on those days are more like clues that I have to decipher for example:

  • wup early do nada 11 go bus DESTINATION UNKNOWN. park kites field marriage corn. cute girls are u foreign? bus windy chicken on stick. squat toilet. chill chat
  • holiday. Matilda, dye, yoghurt, blossom, spring
  • write essay for AA* think about life choices, no decision made.

Whereas before in Chile, my diary was a type of escapism now it’s a little like a chore. I have a lot of free time in the afternoons at university in China and I normally spend this time alone doing homework, watching TV or “sorting out my life”. I’m never that motivated to write my diary as I already have a lot of time by myself and although when I start to write I enjoy it, finding the motivation to get started is difficult.

Do you have any ideas on what can motivate me to write on a daily basis? I am determined to keep up with my diary as I don’t know when I’ll next be in China. Some things that have happened here also have to be documented somewhere as they have been outrageously funny, strange or cute. It might sound silly, but I think when learning languages it’s really important to keep up with your mother language. I can now write passages in Chinese about things that have happened to me but I don’t want to forget my English grammar.

Maybe being constantly six-seven weeks behind is holding me back. Right now I have 70 days of life to write up and leaflets, receipts and tickets to stick into my diary. If I sit down for an hour to write, I can normally write two or three days worth of entries but then I don’t write again for another four days, setting me back again. 

It’s not really writer’s block as all I have to write is what I did/saw/experienced on that day, which I all have in note form. I have the inspiration, the facts, the memories, the paper and the different coloured pens. The trouble with keeping a diary? It’s the writing part. 

*AA stands for Advantage Award, an extra module I’m taking at university, not Alcoholics Anonymous


6 thoughts on “The Trouble With Keeping a Diary

  1. your101guidetoadulthood

    Your experience sounds incredible! In a few months I am going to study abroad in the UK, which I guess isn’t the furthest stretch from Australia. Hopefully one day I am confident enough to live somewhere I don’t know the language.

    I think if writing feels like a chore, give it time. If you don’t force writing it usually creeps up naturally and soon you won’t be able to stop! Or do the whole reward thing, you know, where 100 words equals a bar of chocolate.

    Safe travels and keep blogging!

    1. Thanks, I think I’ve given it too much time, hence why I’m so behind! But I’ll try the treat method with mini snickers bars, my favourite in China.

  2. I was reading The Autobiography of Mark Twain, and he had a quote talking about how he struggled to keep a diary. His main issue turned out to be focusing too much on details. I personally find it easier to write diary/travel entries a few weeks after the fact, because it keeps me from adding extraneous details that I don’t actually need to remember…so maybe being a little behind will be okay in the long run 🙂 But you can do it!

    1. Yes, I’ve found that being behind makes me focus on more important details, I don’t need to write about the latest episode of TV I watched or what I had for dinner. Maybe if I catch up to being two weeks behind I’ll be back on track.

  3. have you thought about keeping a sentence-a-day-diary? it’s a lot less pressure. one of my best friends did this while we studied abroad and it’s such a great thing–she’s always texting to say “one year ago today we visited sorrento” or “one year ago we did this” and that one sentence brings the memories flooding back.

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