3 compelling reasons to start writing a diary
KEEPING A DIARY:
Therapy, history and, possibly, an income stream.
It can even improve your health. According to Professor James Pennebaker, writing about heartfelt emotions can boost immunity, as well as your mindset. You don’t have to do it every day—20 minutes for four days in a row is enough to make sense of your life.
So much for therapy, what about history? The diary has been an invaluable social record ever since Pepys, and the number of ministers in the last Government who were scribbling away defies belief. Chris Mullin, whose political diaries are arguably the best-written of the lot (the latest, Decline and Fall, is a study of the Brown years), filed his memories in red pocket-books. “When you write things down you remember them better, so I noted anything that struck me as interesting,” he says. “A good diary should illuminate the age you live in, so it needs mundane details, too.”
Tempted to have a go? Then take inspiration from these revelatory reads—you never know you might even make some money out of it.
Satire: The Lost Diaries by Craig Brown. Wicked parodies of celebs, from Keith Richards to the Queen.
Politics: The Power and the People by Alistair Campbell. Second volume of his unexpurgated diaries. Will Gordon and Peter ever make up? Will Tony stop worrying about his hair?
Humour: A Diary of The Lady: My First Year as Editor, by Rachel Johnson. A compulsively racy read.
History: Nella’s Last War. The wartime diary of Housewife 49 from the Mass Observation Archive, which asks citizens to record their lives. If you’re under 44 and from the North, they want you.