How to Start a Secret Diary
Think of your diary like a best friend that you can tell your secrets but never worry about back-stabbing or one of your secrets going out into the world. Your diary is a safe haven where you can be exactly who you want to be and get to know yourself more through the process of writing each day.
A diary can be a place where you can put some of your most treasured mementos, like a photo to show your point in another way or a ticket stub of your first date. Things that may not seem like a lot to the average person but mean so incredibly much for you. You can create doodles, paint (be mindful of making sure it doesn’t bleed), and little cartoons to show what has happened or something you found funny.
The most important thing is to try to write every day because it doesn’t make a lot of sense looking back from your fifth-grade entry to you being in high school; there are so many moments that have been missed. It is a great time to be honest and reflective with yourself to think about the events that have transpired during the day.
At JournalOwl, we have compiled some tips to help you create your very own secret diary, but any notebook or writing pad can do the trick! A personal diary can be whatever makes the most sense to you. This is your private time to write, decompress, and understand your day.
To begin, you will need to have a few supplies!
In starting from scratch, you will need cardboard covers (going to be the outside of the diary), a lock and key so that you can feel safe knowing your secret diary is untouchable, and pieces of paper. You can get creative such as using colored sheets of paper, dotted, or other creative outlets that best describe your intent.
When getting paper, you can also purchase graphing paper to create a mood board to better help describe your feelings and maybe even add different stickers to show your feelings. When getting paper for your diary, you express yourself, and you can even mix-match some of the pages to make it uniquely you!
Seal the deal
Now that you have all of your supplies, it is time to get crafty! Have all your papers together, and it is very important to have them of the same size. If you have cut some of the pieces of paper, make sure they align; that is welcome and so that it can make your secret diary easier to hide.
Now that all the papers are aligned and the same size, get your favorite glue stick or rubber cement to apply to the spines of the compressed papers. Some people like to fold the sheets horizontally so that you automatically have two pieces of paper. All the sheets will be glued together at the folded portions or whichever side you would prefer to write on. It is super important to have the sheets of paper very tight so that you can glue them together. If they are loose, you will not have a seamless look.
Cover It Up
Now that we have our papers ready, we want to make sure they are well protected with something found around the house, cardboard! Cut the cardboard pieces the exact same size as the pieces of paper or a little larger to save the pages. Have one a little longer so that it can fold over the backbone of the diary. You can also create a little slit where it can close the diary and connect your lock.
One of our favorite aspects of diary making is time to decorate your diary to reflect you! You have so many possibilities from drawing your favorite scene or animal, maybe even a self-portrait! You can create a collage from your magazines and glue them on your cardboard; it is a great idea to make the covers a bit stronger. Since you are having fun with creativity, add some fun stickers to keep them forever and a place that you will look at each day.
Going along with the collage theme, get a disposable camera and take pictures of favorite places, family, friends, and of course, you! You can create this as part of the collage so that it makes it extra special.
Each diary has a theme (we will talk about this a little later), so choose a theme that will best reflect your diary and have fun being creative.
Lock and Key
Since the whole point of a secret diary is to keep it private, we think a toy lock and key would be a perfect addition to your ultra super-secret diary. There are tons of options, whether a dainty lock and key, a coded lock, or an alarm lock that rings if someone tries to open your diary out.
You can create the lock portion from extra cardboard, fabric, or even duct tape. Duct Tape is a lot stronger than it looks.
For hiding your secret diary, you can reinforce the protection by keeping your diary on a locked shelf or door. It can be a discreet place that you store in your home, like your nightstand or behind a book you usually don’t read. Think of a place that no one would check out if you were away because we don’t want family or friends snooping around in your private diary space.
Now to Begin!
Where the magic is about to begin, the beginning! Your diary entry is a great way to provide the content of your writing into context. You will start each entry with the date and if you want to be super specific, add the time.
Since the diary is a private exchange with yourself, you can be extra sneaky by creating a language or using language that is already created like pig Latin, turning letters into numbers, morse code. If you loved Lord of the Rings, you could learn elvish, or if you prefer a more scifi route, you can learn Klingon from StarTrek.
It can be a little challenging to get started since there are so many facets that you can write about in your secret diary. Do you want to write about your goals and ambitions? Maybe talk about the food that you have tried, want to cook, or food that has always been on your bucket list. You could also write about daily events like your relationships with your friends and family. You do not have to keep just one diary, but you can create a whole collection about the different topics if you enjoyed diary making.
You can also have a diary for everything! The choice is all yours because writing a diary isn’t meant to be hard work but a fun process to express yourself.
We have included some helpful tips from your friends at Journal Owl to help you get started and to be consistent with your writing.
Plan your Writing
You do not have to have everything figured out, but it is beneficial to have some sort of a schedule when you anticipate writing in your diary. Are you feeling like you will write every week or a little bit more consistent with every day? It is helpful to either schedule the time in your calendar or, when organizing your day, when will be the best time to begin writing. It is like exercising; the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
If you have decided on one topic or all the above, create a writing timeline that fits the topic. For instance, if you are writing about food, you can write after the meals you eat. You would describe the sensations, seasonings, and texture of the food. It wouldn’t be a long process, but if you are writing about relationships with family and friends, you can anticipate the topic being a little longer because relationships can be messy or complex.
Some folks enjoy writing right before they get to bed or when they wake up, creating a little me-time before their day has ended or began. You can write about the day-to-day struggles, particularly with introverted people, it can be difficult, and some will compartmentalize their emotions. Read our guide of An Introvert’s Guide to Survive in an Extroverted World for helps with writing prompts and maybe an inspiration for your secret diary.
Time is of the Essence
It can be hard starting out with writing in your diary if you are not used to it. A way to gauge how much time you will need in your schedule is by setting your alarm to the time that fits the content that you would like to write. Going back to the food example, it would be beneficial to write 15 to 30 minutes. While with your family, it might help schedule a time frame of 30 minutes to an hour as you figure out the different aspects of your relationships.
When you begin your diary, create a short description of the intention for your diary. First and foremost, write your name. Names are very powerful tools because your name is a contract that you have with everyone you have ever met. You are the most unique version of yourself with all the music, literature, and experiences that have ever happened. You deserve to be written about from a first account. Write about what you enjoy, things that mean the most to you, and how you would like your diary to show yourself.
You’ve Got A Friend In Me.
Like we said earlier, treat your diary like your best friend. This is your personal time to talk about whatever you would like with no interruption. Your me-time can include anything that makes you happy, sad, or not really sure how you are feeling just yet. It might help to get started with the age-old “Dear Diary” entry. At the same time, it may seem a little cheesy to begin with; you will talk to your diary as if you were writing to a friend, which creates a level of subjectivity so that you are having a hard time processing your emotions.
Ask the Tough Questions
To create a reflective purpose, we realized that asking yourself the tough questions can be the best way to find out about yourself and why you want to better understand yourself.
Some great questions can be found on our How to Start A Reflective Journal and also start by asking yourself:
What am I thankful for today and why?
Did I accomplish all of the goals I wanted to get done today?
Every day is a lesson. What was something I learned about myself?
Is there something you would like to change about today, your relationships, or yourself?
How are you REALLY feeling?
Formatting is Fun
Everyone has a wonderfully whimsical way of writing about themselves. If you check out our article about the Top 101 Mental Health Blogs of 2021, it can give you inspiration on how you would like to write. Some people enjoy writing in bullets to be concise, while others want more extended, detailed portions. Writing in a journal is therapeutic because you can write about things you wish would happen and your feelings if you achieved your goals.
Spice it up!
You can play with the different formatting, and let’s be honest, if we do and say the same thing every day, you will be incredibly bored. It also helps with changing things in your diary, like creating a mood board or detailed cartoon to show your progress and how you continue to grow despite the challenges.
You are your worst critic.
Your diary is your safe place. In your safe space, you wouldn’t have someone constantly critiquing you, right? Well, don’t do it to yourself! The inner critic or self-doubt monster lives in your head because someone at sometime had said those words to you. We do not initially have an inner critic, but it is our life mission to heal from the hurt that has been told to you in the past.
Be kind to yourself and have fun!
About Emily Ruiz, MA
Emily Ruiz is a contributor of JournalOwl with a passion for spreading mental health awareness. She believes that mental health topics are instrumental in creating change. She enjoys writing about PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other arrays of topics by adding an emotional feel to her writing.
Before joining the JournalOwl team, Emily received her Masters in Communication with a focus in healthcare advocacy at East Carolina University in North Carolina. She has assisted organizations teaching social skills to children who are autistic and ADHD and teaching mindfulness to teenagers with BPD and who are high-risk self-harm and suicide. Emily created a training module for a non-profit equestrian therapy, Difference instead of Disability, for her independent study during her master’s program.
Emily and her husband are North Carolina natives who enjoy traveling, exploring, and general shenanigans with one another. They foster and rescue animals in their free time. She enjoys riding horses, theatre, and reading.
JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.