The Difference Between a Diary and a Journal

In this series, we’re talking about the practice of journaling. Many people confuse that process with the act of keeping a diary. While a journal and a diary are similar in a number of ways and they have some overlap, the two are distinctly different concepts. Lots of people use the words interchangeably, but it’s important to understand the ways in which they differ so that you can take your journaling practice in a proactive direction that helps to accomplish your goals. Let’s take a look at the difference between a diary and a journal.

What is a Diary?

A diary tends to be a book or tool in which you write down important events or keep track of things. It’s a method that is useful for noting actions or events, rather than exploring your feelings around such things. A diary lets you note progress or changes over time. You can write about your feelings in a diary, but usually the point of doing so is to keep track of the ways in which they change over time or what influences them. People often use a diary to keep track of things such as food intake, weight change, moods, exercise, or symptoms.

What is a Journal?

A journal delves deeper than a diary does. Its purpose is to explore dreams, gain insights, contemplate goals, flesh out ideas, or analyze feelings, among other things. It often has an open or blank format in order to accommodate the extensive writing that comes with such purposes. While the content of a journal can be as simple as a daily list, this format often encourages more content.

Which is Best for You?

Journaling is a process that can take many forms, depending upon your preferences, needs, and purpose. A combination of the two is always possible. There doesn’t need to be a rigid structure in place. However, chances are, a journal format might serve you better if you’re looking to discover something about yourself, gain self-growth, implement your goals, and relieve stress. Determining your purpose for writing is key to deciding which format to pursue.

Keep this information in mind as you move forward in your journaling practice. As with any new habit, it will take some time to find your groove and to develop a routine that works for you. Knowing the difference between a diary and a journal can help you to get there.

Coach Jackie Out.

Jackie Schwabe Mark





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