Keep a diary, and some day it will keep you

Published August 14, 2012

I’ve kept a diary on and off for years. The first diary I remember writing was in one of those exercise books where half the page is blank and half the page is lines with enormous spacing. We would draw and write about our day. I don’t draw well, but I probably didn’t write very well in those days either.

I also recall later keeping a diary in the back of one of our English exercise books. We turned them upside down and wrote more about our day at school and at home. I can’t say that I was leading a particularly exciting life back then, but it probably seemed like it at the time.

Amazingly, this school-enforced diary-keeping is something that stuck with me. I’ve not always been religious about it, but writing notes about what I do is the only possible chance I have of remembering. I haven’t done much diary keeping over the last few years, because I’ve had a blog. Lately, though, I’ve felt like there’s stuff I’m doing I want to write about that doesn’t make it to the blog - either due to lack of time or motivation. I want to be a better blogger now I’m making a post-Olympics fresh start, but equally, I want the unpressured space to write a diary as well.

I was looking around for some diary software, that would make it really easy to write thoughts, keep them organised, and more importantly, back them up. I found Day One, which is highly rated on the Mac App Store. It looks nice and clean with strong accented colours, it is simple to use and the backup is kept as a plain text file.

Making a new entry is easy, you either click the giant add button or navigate to the date you want in the calendar. Looking back on previous entries is just as easy, either in the same calendar, or via the list of entries.

You can put a password on the software, so no prying eyes can stumble across your deepest, darkest thoughts (although don’t forget to hide the backup too!) There are plenty of options I don’t tend to use, including the photographs and links and suchlike. It’s clearly aimed for the iPhone - on the go diary keeping. I am more interested in the desktop version, and keeping track of all the text.

I’ve set myself a bit of a project (massively long-term) to digitise the handwritten diaries I have, mostly as a backup, also because that makes them searchable and it’s great to have everything in one place, rather than spread across books of differing shapes and sizes. It’ll take me forever, and there will be some gaps, but overall, I think Day One will be a great place to keep track of the jumble that is my brain. If the software manages to do that, then it really is quite special!

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