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Diary and journal entries

Real-life diary entries are unstructured and can ramble all over the place. Before you go ahead and write a diary entry like this, check exactly what your teacher wants. Even though they say, "Write a diary entry", they might really mean, "Write a well set out diary entry with correct grammar". This way you won’t give them a genuine diary entry when they really want something a little different.

Note that some people say there is a difference between a diary and a journal. According to them, a diary records what you have done that day. A journal records your reactions and thoughts about your day, and is more personal and expressive. Personally, I don’t think there are any strict definitions, so use whatever terminology you want.

It’s pretty hard to ‘mark’ a diary. Because there are usually no spelling or grammatical requirements, you can’t be marked on these. Because it’s personal, there’s no ‘correct’ answer - it’s just what you did and how you felt about it.

The mind maps above showing possible ideas for writing an autobiography can also be used for diary writing. However, as well as being more informal than an autobiography, a diary also tends to be related to more recent events. Sometimes though, you may be allowed to write a diary entry from in the past - perhaps just after some significant event.

There are some general tips for writing a good diary or journal:

  • Don’t hold back. If you only half heartedly write what you feel about something, it may come across as half-baked to the reader.

  • Even though it’s informal, express yourself clearly. This means you need to think about the right word for the situation. For instance, don’t use ‘guilty’ when really you mean ‘ashamed’.

  • Recall snippets of conversations if they help get your message across.

  • Don’t be afraid to open up - if you’re angry at someone but know rationally that you shouldn’t be, write about it! There’s nothing better than self-awareness.

  • Although profanities can sometimes perfectly represent your mood, try to moderate how much you use them. If you’re teacher doesn’t like them, perhaps you can use asterisks for part of them.

I got my maths exam back today and found out I’d failed. Not because I got questions wrong, no, of course not, but because I didn’t realise there was a back page to the stupid exam. Then, because I had to stay back to talk to the teacher, I missed the bus to footy training, so I had to walk for half an hour to get to the field. And then, because I was late, I got dropped from the team. So I trained extra hard to try to change the coach’s mind, but then I didn’t see a bloody pothole in the field, and I rolled my ankle. What a f**ked up day!