How my diary writing obsession started

Diary spines

Diary writing became an obsession for me. I have around eight million words of diaries in total. That’s the equivalent of eighty novels. So how did this obsession start? … It all began with a Muppet Show notepad that I received for Christmas as a child. I started to jot down the odd sentence about what I was up to and, of course, what was number one in the charts.

The enjoyment of reading back
I found that I loved re-reading what I’d been up to. So, I started to write more. Reading what I first thought about someone I later become attracted to is wonderful.

Unburdening myself
I had a Christian upbringing, which I took on board for a few years. So, when I indulged in normal teenage behaviour such as trying a cigarette, sneaking in some alcohol, or going out (not too successfully) with a non-Christian boy, I felt the need to confess my sins on paper.

Homophobia in school
As naive as I was about my sexuality while I was at school, I somehow felt the need to note down any anti-gay comments coming from the teaching staff. For example, anyone gay was “sexually strange” according to our deputy headmistress.

Lesbian crushes
At the age of twelve I fell in love at first sight with my French teacher, Miss Williams. I wrote down my feelings, my confusion, our encounters, and my increasingly obsessive behaviour towards her (Reading back, I have no idea how she coped with me). I recorded details of numerous other crushes on teachers and celebrities, too.

Secret code
I attended an all-girls public school where I was fortunate enough to be able to study both Latin and ancient Greek. Having learnt the Greek alphabet, I used this as a basis for a code that enabled me to note down my lesbian attractions without fear of being discovered.

By my early twenties I was totally gripped by diary writing. Nothing would go unrecorded because this would mean losing parts of my life, which became an unbearable thought. I was spending several hours per day writing my diary. I arrived at a point where I would turn down invitations and even try to stop thinking so that I could reduce the volume of what I felt compelled to write.

Fast forward to the present. It is a blessed relief to me that my laptop and my smartphone allow me to knock up my diary fast and undetected all day, as I am still gripped by this obsession. The people around me think I’m working and texting. …

Do you keep a diary? How did it start? What motivates you to continue?


  1. Posted December 6, 2014 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    I don’t keep a diary myself but it can be interesting reading other people’s diaries.

    Many of the great chroniclers of history were essentially diarists; if it wasn’t for their compulsion to write everything down, we would be incredibly ignorant about past civilisations.

    Julius Caesar, Samuel Pepys, Plato… Alistair Campbell… diarists, one and all.

    You’re (mostly) in pretty good company.

    • Natasha Holme
      Posted December 7, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      And the diaries of Anne Lister contribute so much to lesbian history.

      I find the Mass Observation project, started in 1937, pretty exciting. For one day of the year, members of the public are encouraged to contribute a diary entry for that day to add to the archive held at the University of Sussex.

      I recently read Wonders of The Universe by Brian Cox, which offers a sobering reminder on the diary-writing front: Our “Sun will die, incinerating Earth and obliterating all life on our planet,” leaving a “formless cosmos with no possibility of supporting any life or retaining any record.” I spend hours every day chronicling my life in minute detail. But we don’t stand a chance of these records surviving, ultimately.

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