What’s the difference between a Diary and a Journal?
Through the years, many definitions have been floated around, but there’s been nothing definitive to really hammer out the difference between the two. I can tell you the definition of, ‘diaries are for girls and journals are for boys’ probably won’t fly around here; Isabella has a journal just like I do. No difference there.
For the record, we call our leather journal review site toptenleatherjournals.com, but it could just as easily be called toptenleatherdiaries.com. Call them what you like. We’re more interested in encouraging people to take up handwriting in leatherbound books. Call us crazy.
Perhaps you want a more concrete split between the two that’s not about gender. So, here’s how we might define the difference.
keep a diary when you simply wish to record the ‘what’ of the day. That’s where the word comes from actually. The Latin origin word comes from dies, the word for day. It’s a place to jot down what happened. I went to the store. I bought bread and milk. I came home and made a tuna sandwich. Early diaries were actually more like account ledgers. Diaries are focused on objective and specific facts.
Diaries should be kept daily as an objective recording.
Diaries can be considered glorified ‘done’ lists or ‘to-do-tomorrow’ lists.
Diaries can be written by anyone who wants to record their daily ideas.
This can be contrasted with the journal, where both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ are recorded. Journal also comes from the same Latin root word, but when the concept went through France (the word for day in French is jour), it picked up the idea of recording personal opinion along with the facts. So, instead of ‘I went to the store. I bought bread and milk. I came home and made a tuna sandwich,’ you might tell us stories about how the tuna sandwich made you feel happy because your mom used to make the most astounding tuna sandwiches.
Journals are more profound, where deeper thoughts about events should be recorded. They are more focused on feelings and reactions rather than simple observations.
Journals entries are not necessarily a daily activity. They’re reserved for notable events.
Myths about diaries and journals
1. Diaries are for girls and journals are for boys
The typical stereotype that has developed around diaries and journals says that diaries are for girls and journals are for boys. However, getting a leather-bound book and recording one’s thoughts and activities is universal and not relegated to gender. Our culture tells us that a diary is about recording personal feelings of little substance while a journal records serious thought and matters of the day. After all, we don’t call journalists diarists. But this is just culture.
2. Journaling has to be taught in school
There are specific courses on writing in journals. The idea is that you can organize your thoughts better with a bit of training. There’s merit to the idea, but some people think that journaling can only be done right if you’re trained. Anything else is just a diary. We think writing is writing, and the best way to get the most out of your writing is to simply do it. Most people aren’t aiming for their personal writing to be released to the public afterward.
3. The division between journals and diaries is sacrosanct
This is just culture speaking. I know that my personal journal sometimes resembles a diary because I wanted to write something for that day but didn’t have enough time to expound on my feelings. The line is blurred, and there’s really no need to clear it up as long as the entry is useful to your needs.
While we did create a division at the top, that’s really just us being pedantic. Call it a journal or call it a diary or call it a paper blog if you want. We just want to hear about people filling them up with their experiences. These slim books, whatever you call them, won’t come to life until you fill them with yours.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jake & Bella are both young professionals who reside in sunny Queensland, Australia. Jake is an executive within the medical tourism industry and Bella is a young PR & Journalism graduate. Both use journals and notebooks as part of their daily life, whether it's taking notes, creating concepts, planning projects or showing some gratitude. Both have a keen eye for what makes a high quality journal that's a pleasure to own and use. Visit the Our Team page for more info on this bother and sister duo.