Journals and Diaries in the Upper School
By: Carys Bowen
Recently I sent out a survey to the upper school on journals and diaries. Of those who responded, very few said that they had never written in a journal or diary. This could be as it seems (that the majority of people write in journals at some point), or it could be that people who have never written in journals didn’t fill out the survey as much as other people did. An explanation for the latter option is that the survey was aimed at people who have written in journals, making it hard for people who haven’t to fill it out.
Twenty-seven people, or roughly fifty-two percent of respondents, said that they currently write in a journal or diary, and twenty-two people, or roughly forty-two percent, said they have written in the past, but don’t write currently.
Respondents who have written in the past, but don’t currently, mostly wrote once per day (seven people; about thirty-two percent) or once or twice per week (eight people; about thirty-six percent). Only one person wrote multiple times a day, and five people, about twenty-three percent, wrote once or twice per month. While one person wrote once or twice per year, a majority of past writers were fairly dedicated to their journals.
This trend continues with current writers: thirteen respondents, or about forty-eight percent of this group, write once or twice per week, and seven, or about twenty-six percent, write once per day. Two said they write multiple times per day (about seven percent) and five said they write once or twice per month (about nineteen percent).
Past writers also started writing earlier than current writers. Five past writers and two current writers said they started writing when they were younger than seven years old, seven past writers and six current writers said they started writing around ages seven to ten, and six past writers and four current writers said they started around ages ten to thirteen. However, only two past writers said they started writing about ages thirteen to sixteen, while fourteen current writers (the only double-digit number) said the same thing. Only three people who write or have written in journals said they started when they were older than sixteen.
There is wide variation among the ages at which people stopped writing and among the lengths of time they wrote for. However, most people did stop before age of sixteen (all but two) and wrote for about one to six years (six people). Seven people wrote for one to three years, three people wrote for one to five years, three people wrote for three to eight years, and two people wrote for three to nine years. One person wrote once a day for at least six to nine years, starting around ages seven to ten and stopping after age sixteen.
Forty-three people, or around eighty-three percent of respondents, currently prefer the term “journal” over “diary.” Seven people, about thirteen percent, prefer “diary.” One person prefers the term “travel journal” and one person doesn’t prefer one over the other. However, fifty percent of respondents (twenty-six people) said they preferred the term “diary” in the past. Twenty-three people, or about forty-four percent, preferred the term “journal.” One person said the term they preferred in the past was “travel journal” and two people said that they were neutral in the past. Only one person who preferred “journal” in the past prefers “diary” now.
Most people write or have written in a journal or diary, but purposes, content, places, and feelings about journals are diverse. Some people write during hard times, whereas others write about happy or out-of-the-ordinary events; some draw or write lists, while others stick to paragraphs; some keep a traditional journal on paper, while others have theirs on their phone or computer; and some look forward to writing every day while others think journaling is just too much work.
Thank you to the fifty-two people who responded: twelve freshman, sixteen sophomores, seven juniors, and seventeen seniors!