The Journal, the Notebook, and the Diary
For most of my life, these three terms seemed to blur together. But I was asked recently about the difference, and it made me think. And whenever I think, I write. The following is my opinion on semantics.
A diary is a place to log your life events. My British cousins often refer to their calendars as diaries for instance. It’s a place that is separated by dates, where each date is a unique record of information. For me, this means that I write in a diary every day to log my activities. I can refer back whenever I need to. I have hashtags in my DayOne app for when I’m sick, what my symptoms are, what trips I’ve been on, what books I’ve read, etc.
A notebook is a place for observation and retention. This is the place where your mind can roam free. It’s your soul on paper. I combine my diary and notebook using the DayOne app. So not only do I log my events, but I write my analyses and insights in this space as well. I choose to combine the diary and notebook because it just makes the most sense for how I process thoughts.
A journal is where you might evidence of a journey. It takes the thoughts and analyses from the notebook into more of a forward thinking state. This is the place where dreams are planned, and ideas come alive. A journal is artistic, even for an audience of one.
There is, of course, much overlap. I started by saying that this was my opinion on semantics, but in this case, I think the semantics matter. Regardless of the container of your thoughts, and regardless of how you combine these elements… the way in which you process your thoughts matter. And the products of writing are infinitely more tangible than the products of thinking.