How many words would it take to describe oneself? I’ve recently reached the million-word mark (More than the Bible). After writing a million words in my diary, I think I’m in a unique to answer that question.
Yet, I confess that I’ve not even come close to understanding myself. I’m a walking contradiction riddled with layers of complexity, a paradox bounded by these four dimensions, a confused individual navigating this life. Yet, it was never these complex, at least not at first.
In this blog post, I would like to give a short account of my diary writing journey and hopefully inspire you.
The Birth of My Diary
One fateful morning in July, I wondered to myself. What would happen if I started recording down my experiences in Singapore? I decided it was worth a shot. Who knows? Maybe five years down the road, it might become relevant.
I popped up my laptop and began typing. Words coalesce with each keystroke. Ideas that were ephemeral slowly took form. My mind churned as I found connections between disparate pieces of information. What I thought, I wrote. Unfiltered, the words came pouring out of my brain. There were no sensibilities at all, just my unabashed thoughts and my quick fingers to note it all down.
It was unstructured. Yet, there was a sense of joy to it. it was all new! The experience of penning my fleeting ideas to something tangible freed me from the burden of recalling my thoughts. I could generate new ideas as I left my old ones.
In an instant, I was done. 745 words for my first diary entry. I saved the document within my laptop, exited the file, and closed my computer. Little did I know, I was opening a new chapter for my life.
The Messy Middle
The first 2 years of writing were structureless. My diary focused on my external world rather than my internal word. I talked about who I conversed with, what I did, and what I achieved within that day. It became my historical book to track my coming in and my going out. When it came to discussing about my feelings. The sentences were half-baked and were just broad. I didn’t dive into specificity, hence exceedingly shallow. With such limited aspects to talk about, my monthly diary averaged at 10,000 words per month, amounting to three hundred words a day.
There’s a sense of nostalgia for the simple thoughts that occurred to me back then. They lacked nuance, and it felt that there was much more to be said.
I lament at my limited vocabulary back then. The most frequent adjective was the word “Interesting”, a testament to my struggle in English—It is a very versatile word “That was interesting”, “This was interesting”, “everything Is interesting. My sentence structures were poor, the paragraphs were messy, and my essay broke every conceivable rule of the English Language. Yet, they bring me immense joy. I see it as my baby steps as I ventured into diary writing.
Rereading those entries, it was as if a monkey sat down in front of a typewriter and started typing. For the stranger, it looked like a mess. But to me, it was my beautiful mess. A beautiful mess that I only had the key to decipher. Within my never-ending “…” and my “Today was Interesting”, I found my innermost self expressed on the page.
The structure of my diary remained unchanged until October 2018. A set of circumstances forced me to reconsider the way I structured my diary. The weaknesses became clear, I didn’t know how to express my emotions fully. Up till this point my diary had been my ledger, my trusty aid to keep track of events. But now, my diary took on an additional role. It became my second brain to help me process my life.
I split my diary into two distinct parts, events and thoughts. First, I’ll write what transpired during the day, then I would write my musings or my thoughts. They could be related, or they did not need to be related. But I wrote in a passionate fervor, examining myself from all angles to make sense of my life.
From this moment on. I wrote an average of 25000 words per month. An average of 844 words per day. I was intentional in the way I structured my thoughts. It reflected my faults, my strengths, my triumphs, and my achievement. To write in my diary was the physical equivalent of going to the mirror to see if your well dressed to head outside. I examined every inch, nook, and cranny of my mental being. Some days, my mental self-examination brought delight. On other days, Terror. Nonetheless, that’s what it like to be human with our imperfections and faults.
Most people pursue clarity in life. They seek for that aha moment that gives meaning and a narrative to their life purpose and journey. I got that aha moment. But it was a different kind. I realized that I’m a mess. A big mess that is. I like to talk yet listen. To laugh with triumph and to cry with emotion. To enjoy the moment and to reflect on the past.
But I guess that’s the fullness of life. The walking contradictions that we are. I hope that no matter where you are in your journey of diary writing, you can discover your own contradictions.