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  • ... I got out this diary and read, as one always does read one's own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity.

  • My diaries were written primarily, I think, not to preserve the experience but to savor it, to make it even more real, more visible and palpable, than in actual life. For in our family an experience was not finished, not truly experienced, unless written down or shared with another.

  • One need not write in a diary what one is to remember for ever.

  • Diaries tell their little tales with a directness, a candor, conscious or unconscious, a closeness of outlook, which gratifies our sense of security. Reading them is like gazing through a small clear pane of glass. We may not see far and wide, but we see very distinctly that which comes within our field of vision.

  • In those happy days when leisure was held to be no sin, men and women wrote journals whose copiousness both delights and dismays us.

  • I think this journal will be disadvantageous for me, for I spend my time now like a spider spinning my own entrails, instead of reading as my habit was in all spare moments.

  • I always say, keep a diary and some day it'll keep you.

    • Mae West,
    • in Every Day's a Holiday ()
  • ... my diary seems to keep me whole.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1936, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • We [Tristine Rainer and I] taught the diary as an exercise in creative will; as an exercise in synthesis; as a means to create a world according to our wishes, not those of others; as a mean of creating the self, of giving birth to ourselves. We taught diary writing as a way of reintegrating ourselves when experience shatters us, to help us out of the desperate loneliness of silence and the anxieties of alienation. In the diary we discovered a voice for reading the deep sources of metaphysical and numinous qualities contained in human beings. We found in it the ultimate instrument for explorations of new forms of consciousness and ecstasy. We practiced it as a way of opening vision into experience, deepening understanding of others; as a way to touch and reach the depths of human beings; as nourishment; as a means of linking the content of the dream to our actions so that they become harmonious and interactive.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • in Tristine Rainer, The New Diary ()
  • The period without the diary remains an ordeal. Every evening I want my diary as one wants opium.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • in Ronald Blythe, The Pleasures of Diaries ()
  • I have decided to keep a full journal, in the hope that my life will perhaps seem more interesting when it is written down.

  • In Hollywood now when people die they don't say, 'Did he leave a will?' but 'Did he leave a diary?'

  • To make my diary a little different I am going to call it a Thought Book ... I have thoughts that I never can use unlesss I write them down, for Aunt Miranda always says, Keep your thoughts to yourself.

  • To Nobody, then, will I write my Journal! since to Nobody can I be wholly unreserved, to Nobody can I reveal every thought, every wish of my heart, with the most unlimited confidence, the most unremitting sincerity, to the end of my life!

    • Fanny Burney,
    • 1768, in Charlotte Barrett, ed., Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay, vol. 1 ()
  • [At age 14:] How the time flies when one is keeping a diary!

  • What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it, dull to the contemporary who reads it, invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it!

  • Rather than calling this diary a record of my life, it's more accurate to regard it as the sum of all my tears.

    • Ding Ling,
    • "Miss Sophia's Diary" (1927), in I Myself Am a Woman: Selected Writings of Ding Ling ()
  • A personal magic begins to enter the diary through time. Diarists seem to develop special sensibilities — a perception of meaningful subjective patterns, fateful coincidences, and prophetic dreams — as they learn to follow their feelings and intuitions.

  • Diary writing is free of ... conventions and rules. Everything and anything goes. You cannot do it wrong. There are no mistakes.

  • ... the New Diary is a practical psychological tool that enables you to express feelings without inhibition, recognize and alter self-defeating habits of mind, and come to know and accept that self which is you. It is a sanctuary where all the disparate elements of a life — feelings, thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, fantasies, practicalities, worries, facts, and intuitions — can merge to give you a sense of wholeness and coherence. It can help you understand your past, discover joy in the present, and create your own future.

  • [People keep] a diary as an active, purposeful communication with self. ... Later they reread what has accumulated from the simple act of satisfying the needs and desires of the moment. And all find in their hands a book that contains — in form, content, and style — a unique, unrepeatable story of self. From reflecting upon what has come from within they discover unrecognized parts of their personalities and interests of which they were unaware. They see patterns of meaning in their lives and secrets of self more interesting than a detective story.

  • ... each diarist had a golden nugget of self-discovered knowledge to share. One had a new journal method for alleviating depression, another a means of contacting her real feelings, another a suggestion for developing a creative work.

  • The diary is the only form of writing that encourages total freedom of expression. Because of its very private nature, it has remained immune to any formal rules of content, structure, or style. As a result the diary can come closest to reproducing how people really think and how consciousness evolves.

  • It would be curious to discover who it is to whom one writes in a diary. Possibly to some mysterious personification of one's own identity.

  • A journal is a leap of faith. You write without knowing what the next day's entry will be — or when the last.

  • I think that if I get into the habit of writing a bit about what happens, or rather doesn't happen, I may lose a little of the sense of isolation and desolation which abides with me. My circumstances allowing of nothing but the ejaculation of one-syllabled reflections, a written monologue by that most interesting being, myself, may have its yet to be discovered consolations.

    • Alice James,
    • 1889, in Anna Robeson Burr, Alice James ()
  • It's an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I — nor for that matter anyone else — will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.

  • I hid myself within myself ... and quietly wrote down all my joys, sorrows and contempt in my diary.

  • I soothe my conscience now with the thought that it is better for hard words to be on paper than that Mummy should carry them in her heart.

  • Keeping a diary is like closing your bedroom door and refusing to come out until dinnertime: it is a declaration of self.

  • That all my dreams might not prove empty, I have been writing this useless account — though I doubt it will long survive me.

    • Lady Nijo,
    • 1306, in Karen Brazell, trans., Confessions of Lady Nijo ()
  • A detailed account of your trip will be a joy forever after you get home, but it will be an everlasting nuisance along the way.

  • A Japanese company now provides a diary service for people who just can't find the time every day to write down their entries. They can phone the company to tape record their day's activities and at the end of the month receive a nicely bound transcription of their musings.

  • Our diaries were big features of the journey. We wrote them up in indelible pencil every evening with an assiduity which would have done credit to explorers mapping virgin soil, and a lack of diffidence about giving our opinions which is slightly appalling.

  • Recently I began reading my old diaries. Back to before the war. Gradually I became very depressed. The reason for that is probably that I wrote only when there were obstacles and halts to the flow of life, seldom when everything was smooth and even. ... As I read I distinctly felt what a half-truth a diary presents.

    • Käthe Kollwitz,
    • 1925, in Hans Kollwitz, ed., The Diaries and Letters of Käthe Kollwitz ()
  • ... you must not tell lies in a diary.

    • Piete Kuhr,
    • 1914, in Svetlana Palmer and Sarah Wallis, eds., Intimate Voices From the First World War ()