Journal vs. Diary

This is one of those blogs where I will admit I was wrong. And since it is a blog it is in writing. For those who know me this is astonishing. Take a screenshot if you wish because I doubt this will happen to often. But my friends it is true…

I was wrong.

What was I wrong about you ask? The difference between a diary and a journal. Since I am a girl who loves anything that involves polarity of the sexes I wrote this post topic down as an interesting debate about how men write journals and women write diaries. I was gonna go into how women tend to be more emotional in the logs they keep where men tend to use journals for other reasons like to trigger a memory, maybe to get creative juices flowing or for just no other reason than to write.

But the sexes have nothing to do with the difference between a diary and a journal. And in actuality I had the two flipped.

A diary is meant as a log of sorts. To catalog your day. To write down what happened minute by minute.

A journal on the other hand is used more to write down emotions and memories. If my theory had been right a woman would use a journal and a man would use a diary. But as I said I was wrong.

Whats more? Some of the most famous diaries are not even from women they are from men!


Some of the most famous diaries are from men like Leonardo Da Vinci and Charles Darwin. This actually really surprised me. And now of course I want to head to the store and buy their diaries. I would love to know what such intelligent men wrote in their personal diaries. It must be fascinating.

But now I debate what I used to keep as a teen. I wrote about my day but I always included emotions. Much of my memories were colored by emotions and my writing reflects that. So did I keep a diary or a journal? This might be the million dollar question that will never be answered.

I think I almost prefer that I was right, men write journals and women write diaries. Because that is something I can understand and pin down. Oh well, such is life.

So bloggers. What do you keep? A journal or a diary? Or neither because you blog (like me :))

13 thoughts on “Journal vs. Diary

  1. I don’t do either, not because I blog, but because I’ve never developed a habit in keeping one. Blogging has helped. I would have defined the two in the opposite way as you originally did. I think of “Dear diary…” with the intimacy, secretive nature, and conversations with self. A journal strikes me as more factual and business-like with attention to dates, events, finances, and other mundane details interspersed with straight-forward accountings of daily events.

    Now I’m going to have to explore this a little more.

    Tossing It Out

      • There doesn’t seem to be any consensus from what I’ve found. I think it depends on the person doing the defining and what their perception is about the two mediums. In many places definers say the terms are synonymous while others define it like you say you discovered and others define as I always saw it. So I guess my conclusion so far is that there is no definitive answer, but it’s a matter of opinion.

        I think it’s not a matter of sex since either can keep a diary just as any can keep a journal.

        Here are some defining factors that I might consider:

        1) A diary is often kept under lock and key and is often addressed as “Dear Diary” which to me indicates something more personal, private and less wanted to be shared.

        2) A journal (or log) is often a record of data such as a trucker’s journal, captain’s journal, or a science journal. Typically that data is needed for official record and available for public examination. We see “Scientific Journals” and other journals pertaining to academia or trades which are published and distributed among members of a specific community.

        It’s probably a matter of opinion, but I think you originally had it right for the most part.

        Arlee Bird
        A to Z Challenge Co-host
        Tossing It Out

  2. None for me, blog just came about and I enjoy that, but if no blog there would still be no diary/journal. I keep all in my head and am too lazy to write it down on paper. The only difference between the two is the name, as it can mean whatever you want it to mean

  3. Shae, when I was a kid, I had a diary because diaries were very popular back then. Mine even had a key! Then, as I got older, I had “journals” in which I would write free-flowing and then go back and read the entries to see how I had changed over the months.

    Now, I just blog. But I have to say, I enjoyed having a hardcopy journal to write in.

    Very interesting post topic, my friend! Have a super weekend!

    • I had trouble commenting earlier today……..I had a diary as a kid and it was boring……I would write about what I had for dinner, so maybe it was a journal? My kids were telling me about Mortified Nation on Netflix. It’s adults who read their childhood diaries. And then my daughter told me the funniest ones were the people who wrote what they ate each day…………..I guess I’m hilarious!

      • First of all I am sorry you were having trouble commenting. It seems you and my blog fight alot…maybe it is because my blog doesnt like your “what I eat” diary?

  4. Hey, Shae, great post! I’ve been guilty of using the words “diary” and “journal” interchangeably, but I see now the error of my ways.

    I most definitely keep journals–recording emotions and ideas. I work on keeping it positive since my journals from years ago are just tomes of misery. (I threw them all out!)

    Blogging is a kind of public journal and an important part of my personal development. But the journal is private and, I might add, barely legible at times. Oh, my nuns would have fits over my penmanship.

    Journal on….

  5. I agree with the first comment. Diary has things you wouldn’t share with just anyone whereas a journal could be creative things that inspire you and your work that you would share publicly.

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