Writing a Diary

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Can writing about your life be important? Adam Navis and Anne Muir look at why people write diaries and how it can help people.

Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2

And I’m Anne Muir. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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 Voice 1

It is 1912. The explorer is very cold and tired.  He is in Antarctica.  He has just walked to the South Pole. He is in a thin shelter. A fierce snowstorm is blowing outside. He is unable to reach a safe place. So, he sits and writes in his diary.  He writes about his experiences and concerns. He knows he will soon die.  He is concerned for his family. He writes these final words in his diary,

Voice 3

“We are getting weaker, and the end cannot be far. It seems sad, but I do not think I can write more. I pray to God that you will look after our people.”

Voice 2

This explorer and diary writer was Sir Robert Scott. People all over the world write diaries. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was in prison for 27 years. He was later the president of South Africa. He wrote a diary. In South America Che Guevara was a military leader. He also wrote a diary. Every day they each recorded their experiences, hopes and ideas in a diary. Today’s spotlight is on writing a diary.

Voice 1

Every diary is different because every writer is different. Diary writers include actors, writers, explorers, military men, country leaders, children, students, and travelers. People often use diaries as a place to record their private life and thoughts. Creative people often find that writing a diary helps them become even more creative. Michael Palin is an English actor, writer, and traveler. He told the Guardian News Organization that writing a diary means to him,

Voice 4

Keeping a diary means that all that makes a life is not forgotten. All the seeing and hearing, loving and laughing, excitement and upset, joy and sadness, of a life, are remembered. In short, a diary makes time unimportant and offers your life back to you.

Voice 2

Some diary writers are famous, but most diary writers and not famous. Instead, they are ordinary people. However, some diary writers are made famous by their diaries.

Voice 1

Anne Frank started to write her diary in 1942. She was not famous. She was only a 13-year-old Jewish girl. She lives in the Netherlands. The Netherlands was occupied by Nazi soldiers. The Nazis wanted to kill all jews. So, she and her family hid. They lived in a secret room. Anne thought of her diary like a friend. She even gave it a name, Kitty. Kitty was a private record of her thoughts, dreams, and feelings. Anne did not think that anyone would be interested in her diary. She wrote,

Voice 5

Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else would be interested in the thoughts and dreams of a 13-year-old schoolgirl. Oh well, it does not matter. I feel like writing.

Voice 2

But Anne was wrong. She and her diary became famous. She and her family hid for over 2 years. But then enemy soldiers found them. They sent them to a prison camp, and she died there. After the war Anne’s father found her diary. He published it. Many millions of people read Anne’s diary. It was translated into 67 languages. Many people were encouraged by her words of courage and hope. The president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was one of those people. He read Anne’s diary when he was in prison. He said that it kept his spirits high.

Voice 1

Mandela found that reading Anne’s diary helped him. But experts say that writing a diary helps a person’s mental and emotional health. It can make a person happier. Research at the University of Iowa showed that writing helps people deal with difficult emotional events. Researchers said it was particularly important to write about emotions. They said it was most helpful for a person to try to understand and make sense of what they think and feel. Scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles also studied this. They discovered that men found it particularly helpful to write about how they felt. And the scientists also found that writing by hand was best.

Voice 2

Michael Palin likes writing his diary by hand. He likes making marks on a piece of paper. On his website he talks about writing a diary.  He says,

Voice 4

“Handwriting, it sounds old, but it has a lot going for it. Handwriting is a mark of your own individuality. Handwriting is expressive. It shows changes in your mood and your emotions which you will not see if you are typing on a computer.”

Voice 1

Today, many medical patients are encouraged to write a diary or journal. Maude Purcell is a psychotherapist. She helps people solve emotional problems. She also says that writing a journal has a positive effect on those that do it. She says it helps people think more clearly about how they feel. It helps people reduce stress and become calmer. It even helps solve problems.

Voice 2

And a diary is not just good for the writer. It can be a treasure to future generations. The children and grandchildren of a writer can read about a part of their family history. And historians can see diaries of ordinary people doing normal things as important. These private diaries provide valuable historical evidence.

Voice 1

But the diaries of many ordinary people are destroyed when they die. Dr. Irving Finkel of the British Museum was sad about this. So, he started “The Great Diary Project”. This project rescues diaries. It provides a permanent home for thousands of unwanted diaries. The project protects and cares for diaries to help future historians. He told the Independent Newspaper,

Voice 6

“All human life is there. And everything is helpfully dated for future historians.”

Voice 2

You may now decide to write a diary. But how do you do it? Experts say that you should try to write something every day. But you should not spend too long doing it. Instead write quickly and do not think too much of what you write. Maude Percel advises how to write a diary on the website, Psych Central,

Voice 7

The most important rule of all is that there are no rules!

Voice 1

What do you think about writing a diary? Do you already keep a diary? You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net

Voice 1

The writer of this program Katy Blake. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called, ‘Writing a Diary.

Voice 2

You can also get our programs delivered directly to your Android or Apple device through our free official Spotlight English app. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program.



Do people celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day where you live? Do you? What people from history does your culture celebrate?

Join the discussion

  • Actually we don’t celebrate Patrick’s day in our country .becousr we don’t know about ot also beacuse there is no such thing like this in our cultures. in our culture we celebrate in few events like eid’s day and ramadan month

    • I think writing a diary is very helpful thing cause it makes u dump all the thoughts and feelings that u get of all the day
      Good idea i’ll try to make one inchallah

  • The episode influenced me and made me encourage me to start writing my diary and I hope you publish it for everyone to read it.

  • Diary it’s a good ..I’m going to start writing my dairy in English..for tow reasons ,first To make my language better ..also have to review my everyday actions and ideas

  • The story made me very excited and boost my emotion it made me feel i want go to the library and get a diary to started my special history

  • It was so helpful to me
    To listen to this podcast
    And writing dairy it was my favorite this that I’m doing form 3 years ago

  • To listen this program about writing diaries encourages me to cultivate my mind and then write a lot of diary which filled my memories.

  • no the people do not celebrate saint patrik s day because in my country i have not heard about it .but the diary in my horibble opinion it is soooo awesome

  • We do not celebrate it because we are in a Muslim country, we celebrate our Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him, and we have some holidays such as Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha

  • Actually in our culture we not celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.We celebrate for one day which is (Alfiter Eid ) that after one fasting month that Ramadan.And the another once it’s called ( Alhajh ) after ten days fasting.

  • As a boy, I wrote a diary for almost a year, but when I stopped writing it, I immediately destroyed it, for two reasons.
    First: I realized that I didn’t like that others could read my thoughts.
    Second: I realized that I didn’t like remembering all the facts of my life. I wanted to remember only the beautiful and happy facts.
    P.S. Spotlight is among the beautiful facts.

  • Write a diary it’s very important for all why ? when we record what happened in our day it made us happier it helped to reducestress cause we write our feelings in a specific time . And we can keep it until future

  • Every first ten days of month Muharram which is the first month of hejry year , my people ( muslim shiia’t ) in Iraq and another countries are celebrate by occasion of Emam Al- Hussain’s bin Ali martyrdom.

  • From my prespective I would say writing a diary is helpful way to reduce of upset and concerns.You can solve or deal of your problems by write your negative feeling on paper the burn it.

  • Voice 1 (spelling mistake – 5th line)
    Every diary is different because every writer is different. Diary writers include actors, writers, explorers, military men, country leaders, children, students, and travelers. People often use diaries as a place to record their private life and thoughts. Creative people often find that writing a diary helps them become even more creative. Michael Palin is an English actor, writer, and traveler. Her (He) told the Guardian News Organization that writing a diary means to him,

  • I am trying to get the habit of writing a dairy and after this topic about wrting a dairy i got more excited about it .

  • Hello Spotlight English, I hope your kids are doing well. I’m very happy to read this program, I’m enjoying it.
    I also write in a diary every day and try to write down all my ideas in Arabic, French, and English. You all know I love it ❤ Writing and reading makes me feel good, I love handwriting so much
    Thank you, my English accent has improved since listening to your program
    Wonderful love ❤ Hajar El Mansouri

  • I tried write a diary but I I didn’t keep write!
    Because I don’t have a events in my day !
    So I don’t like write diary but I write when I have a bad feeling. I feel better when I write about my feelings.

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