Writing a successful diary

Home learning focus

To learn how to write a successful diary.

This lesson includes:

  • one video to offer advice on how to keep a diary

  • one interactive graphic to explore

  • two activities


A diary is a personal record of events, thoughts, and feelings. It is usually arranged in chronological order - the order in which things happen in.

It can be handwritten and private, published for sale or might be uploaded to the internet as a blog. It could also take the form of a video diary or vlog.

A diary can be many things – a place to keep private thoughts, a record of events, or simply an entertaining story. We can read them to compare emotions and experiences with others or to experience a stranger's world.

A successful diary might not sell millions of copies or even be published at all. It might simply be passed on to future generations, help us to focus on our lives, work out our thoughts and values, and see how we change as we grow older.

Watch this clip to find out how to write a successful diary.

Bryony Gordon shares her tips on creating a successful diary.

Structuring a diary

As diaries are personal, they can have a variety of different structures:

  • Most are divided into the days of the week – but you do not have to write an entry every day.
  • They could start with ‘Dear Diary’ or with the date of that day’s entry.
  • Each day’s entry might end with a closing line such as: 'Got to go now' or 'time for me to go'.

Tone and tense

  • Diaries are usually quite personal – written in the first person from the writer’s point of view.
  • Many sound quite conversational and may contain informal words or phrases.
  • Tenses can vary – diaries tend to be past tense but can use present tense to bring an event to life for the reader.
  • The tone can be formal or informal depending on the intended purpose and audience, eg a travel diary might be chatty to encourage the reader to share fun experiences. However, it could also be serious if the writer describes places where there is extreme poverty.

There are lots of good reasons to keep a diary. Click or tap on the labels below to find out more.


Activity 1

Write a diary about what you did yesterday.

Remember to be honest and include little details from your life. In 200 years’ time, a reader might be fascinated about the details of what you had for breakfast!

Write about how you feel as well as what you did.

Diaries are often private, and you might not want anyone to read what you've written. The diary may simply be a way of dealing with the thoughts and emotions you are experiencing. Alternatively, you might want to share the diary entry with someone.

If you’ve enjoyed the experience of writing a diary, keep going and write an entry whenever you want. You might be interested to look back at the diary when you’re older and see how much you have (or haven’t!) changed.

Activity 2

  • Now create your own imaginary diary entry - you can pretend to be anyone.

  • Click on the image below then read pages one and two to learn some more interesting facts and review a diaries checklist.

  • Then use the questions on page three of this activity from Oxford University Press to plan your entry.

Imaginary diary entry

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt about writing a diary.

There are other useful articles on BBC Bitesize and BBC Teach to help you make your diary writing creative, interesting and engaging.

There's more to learn

More lessons for Year 7 and S1
More from KS3 English
11 - 14 English Language
Hetty Feather
Hetty Feather's Diary
Reading challenges