journal vs. diary

Monday, January 30, 2012

JOURNALS / DIARIES. The two are often confused. They've been merged together until they seem merely to be two different names for the same object. However, they are far from the same.

I've kept a diary/journal since I was seven years old. My loyalty to the lined pages has never been very strong. My longest time writing daily was two summers ago when I wrote a whole month straight. Usually I'm lucky if I write even once every month. Lately my goal has been to write at least one entry each week; sometimes I have many thoughts and find myself writing three times each day, though. (In which I have no complaints for!) In the past couple of months, I have really begun to notice the difference between a journal vs. a diary. Would you like to know, too?

DIARY |ˈdīərē|
noun ( pl. -ries)
a book in which one keeps a daily record of events and experiences.

Writing diary entries is the most common among girls. Diaries are where you document daily happenings. Whenever I think of diaries, images of schoolgirl entries enter my mind and, frankly, I am not a fan. Even so, I've kept many. (see image above.) These entries cut short to the point, are rarely written from deep within the mind, and are sometimes impersonal.

EXAMPLE: "Today I'm writing a post about journals vs. diaries. I love journaling. I hope my readers like the post. I'm not going to lie -- I love blogging."

Diary entries aren't all bad, though. They are an easy way to document quick thoughts and happenings in life. I do them when I'm short on time. (okay...or lazy.) My diaries from a year ago and before are full of these. Most of them were selfish entries about what I wish I owned, updates on my latest school subjects, and little blips about going to the store. But my childhood is basically written within the pages and I am amused every time I take a peek at those old thoughts.

(far left journal in my current one.)
JOURNAL  |ˈjərnl|
a daily record of news and events of a personal nature.

Journaling is my absolute favorite. These are the entries which come from the deepest parts of your thoughts. In all, journaling is your thoughts. Journaling is all about writing down what you're thinking, not just what you did that day. From reflecting on daily happenings to writing details about the taste of water. Almost every blog post could easily be classified as a journal entry.

EXAMPLE: "A lot of people see journals and diaries as the same, but I don't think they realize how different they really are. Diaries are a whole lot less meaningful than journal entries. Journal entries are full of thoughts and are often they only way to get things off your chest."

My past two have been mostly journal entries with the occasional quick diary entry. Something about journaling seems more meaningful to me. These journal entries are often what spark posts and grant ideas.

What about you, friend, do you write diary entries or do you journal?
xo. megan


  1. I think you read my mind. I've always wanted to do a post like this. Personally, I merge the two in a way that keeps me content and writing in only one notebook. I like to have one and only one notebook where I write ALL of my thoughts. So, I mix both deep thoughts with daily happenings into one entry, and I've been loving what it produces. I started that this year, and it has been really good for me as a writer and thinker! :)

  2. oh, most certainly journal. i write about one to two times a week, and it's barely daily life. if so, i tie it in with my own thoughts. example: "today we went on a road trip to the mountains. it involved romping around in snow and lots of laughter. made me realize how much i appreciate my family." loved this post, megan!

  3. I'm a lot like this. I have an entire box of old diaries/journals up in my closet. the longest I ever went journaling was once a day for three months. i guess i'm so busy, i normally do diary entries, but every once in awhile i journal, too.

  4. I write everrrryy day (:

  5. I actually think of a diary as a place to record personal thoughts and a journal for writing descriptive every day happenings. I guess its just my personal preference. :)

  6. Oh, so gorgeous, Megan. I used to keep diaries, too - in spurts of months. Usually I would write every night (or every other night) from Christmas/New Year's till about May. Then I would stop for the summer. I didn't intend it that way, it just happened. Last year I genuinely began to journal. It was sort of diary-ish, but I was so much more free with myself, instead of just writing, "Today I did this, and that, and so-on, and so-forth..." Journaling helped heal so much of my pain last year.

    Right now, I journal every once a week, sometimes twice. It depends on what's going on. :) It's such an incredible experience. Thanks for writing about it.


    Abbie /// XOXOX

  7. This is a really neat post, Megan! I just received one of the cutest journals for my birthday last year, and I have been attempting to be faithful ever since {as I haven't written in my other ones in a very long time}.

    The way you described, I mostly journal with a hint of a diary, yet I lean more towards journaling. As of late, many things have been happening in life so I've been having a lot to write, but sometimes there are dry seasons and I write boring "diary-style" entries. :)

    come stop for tea @

  8. Love the chalkboard idea. I may use it, if you're good with that.

    Journaling all the way. Writing down what I did that day is not my idea of a blast. Especially because a lot of days I don't go anywhere, and it's all routine. Most of the time I could just copy the last entry and put it in today's. But writing down my thoughts - gosh, I have MANY thoughts. many many many. I write multiple times a day, usually. Some of them I use as a blog post. I find it much more interesting to write - and read - my thoughts about things, rather than strictly what I did that day. I could care less whether I ate a waffle that morning, but I know in 10 years I'll appreciate reading about what I thought of the world when I was 14.

    p.s. I used to think like Sarah. I viewed a diary as a place for thoughts, and a journal for a place of recording my day. But I like the definition of journals better. "Events of a personal nature."

  9. I journal, and I love it.(:


  10. Yes! I've been trying to journal more and I love it when I do. It's so liberating. Most of my entries are mixes of the two, but I'll admit that they usually resembles diary entries more than journals.
    I love your photos. The chalkboard is lovely idea.


  11. Huh! I've always seen it the other way around! although i've never like diary's. Journaling has always been hard for me because I don't like writing things out on paper. It take FOREVER to write out all i want to say and it hurts my wrist (plus i dont like my handwriting so much)
    So i've switched to the computer as my journal :) And i quite like it! :)

  12. i'm a journaler. this year, i'm doing a project 52: write a journal entry each week for the year. i can't do a journal 365 {366 this year, leap year!} this time, because i know i'll fall behind. my journal entries are filled with whatever my mind wants to say, and whatever my heart wants to say but i don't have the courage to really say out loud. i find journaling beautiful like that.
    great post, darling! loving the b+w. stellar. ;) :))
    -jocee <3

  13. Love that!! :) I think I do a mix of diary and journalism. :D I write whatever I am thinking/feeling and what the days happenings are. You explained that very well. ;)


  14. Ahhh! Now I know what the difference is! Thanks for sharing! (:

  15. i journal. i realized the difference last year and thankful that there was a difference, gave up on diaries (which didn't work. at all) and took the plunge on journals.

  16. Journal vs milk?! Milk all the way! typos ftw

  17. @anonymous: Ha. leave it to me to make the typo. quickly written post title? definitely. :)

  18. I finished my "diary" just a week ago... I knew when I was through, that I wanted to really journal. Meditate. Think. Not just record.


  19. oooh... so lovely! i do journals.

    ps one of the pictures points to 'DIARIES' but, [second to last, fourth down) one of the notebooks says journal on it! made me laugh. :)

  20. I do a bit of both. Just whatever I feel like at the time. That is one of the reasons I love journaling, because it's my little space where I can do pretty much anything!

  21. I call it a journal, but I guess it's really a mix of the two :) sometimes I write about my day, but I always write about how I feel and what I wish, and my dreams and stuff, so if I had to choose, it would probably be journal!

  22. hehe love this post. It reminds me of that one night when we read out of old diaries and it was basically really dumb stuff that was super hilarious. :) Also, I like that fact that most of your "journals" aren't even journals. They are notebooks. And that insect one makes me laugh because it reminds me of how much you like dirt. :) And I like the chalkboard idea. :D
    the end.

  23. I love journals. I have a new one in my house. But i have to protect it with my life cause i don't what people (that includes my mom) to read it.


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