What is the Dear Diary Project?

The Dear Diary project originated as a very basic idea I found on the Wriye forums. The idea was to write a character’s journal for thirty days. The idea was originally dubbed ’30 Days in the Life of’ but I liked the sound of the Dear Diary Project. I thought it was a great idea, so I did two by myself and then began turning it into a workshop on my old blog to help other writers. It helped me develop my characters on a deeper level and get used to writing in their PoVs. To top it all off, I had lots of fun.

During the month of September, I will be running the Dear Diary challenge once again. The goal is to write one diary entry–it can be any format or length you choose–each day for a month. It helps you develop your character and get into the habit of writing often. Here on the blog I’ll be posting weekly exercises to help you get even further into the mind of your character, and discussing different ways to create a journal. At the end of the month I’ll start talking about starting your own journal and making the most use out of what you’ve created.

I’ll be writing one short–250 words–entry each day, from the point of view of Riana in Home. Riana is the main character in the novel I’m currently revising. She’s a demon, and Home is where demons live. It’s not a pleasant place, but she’s had some adventures there and I’d like to think about them more. It’s going to be a big learning experience for me because I don’t really know too much about Home–I have a basic image, but that’s about it. It should also help me dig deeper into her character and flesh her out.

Over the weekend, think about your characters. Which ones do you feel the most need to get to know better? Which ones have the most interesting stories? Whose background do you want to explore for a month? On Monday, I’ll give you the run down on picking your character, word goal, and format for the Dear Diary Project. In the meantime, go out and have a great weekend.

What are your favourite characterization exercises?

8 thoughts on “What is the Dear Diary Project?

    • Shakespeare,

      Welcome aboard! This exercise has always been useful to me, and I think you’ll find it quite useful too. I’ve been working on it for a long time, so I think I’ve come pretty close to maximizing its usefulness.

      Do you mind elaborating a bit about your book journals?

      Thanks for stopping by,

  • Greetings:

    In catch-up mode on your blog … v excited about the dear diary exercise. I discovered Elgin and his world with this excercise. Excellent!

    Over the weekend, think about your characters. Which ones do you feel the most need to get to know better?
    – I’m not sure … been thinking about writing a play about some radio station characters. I tried last screnzy to do it and it failed and I ended up writing something else. At the moment, completely unforgettable (can’t image what I wrote!) Maybe I’ll do those characters …

    Which ones have the most interesting stories?
    -Elgin for sure has great stories. So does Avis. Occurs to me I could also focus on my last Nano’s charcters.

    What are your favourite characterization exercises?
    – I like the ones where I explore an event or a time or a place … sort of like those 1,000 question “summarize my life” questionaires … like what was your favourite toy as a child? Do you remember your first day of school/what was it like? What was the climate like where you were in your teens …


  • Lynda Williams

    Hi Dianna,
    How about how to detox on your characterization once you’ve got the whole thing done? 🙂 I might be facing that within the year. A lifetime of living with characters whose stories are nearly all told.

    PS: I liked your contribution to the “you know you are really a writer” topic Sherry ran:
    You know you’re a writer when… there’s a video game tournament in the living room and you’re sitting inside on your laptop.

    Word people fight back!

    • Hi Lynda,

      Welcome to my little corner of the web 🙂 It’s nice to have you with us.

      I’ll be honest, I haven’t experienced that dilemma much. Usually when I’ve got the first draft done, there’s another character that’s already in my head, nudging me to tell their story. Or playing mysterious and trying to get me to figure it out. What I suggest is to immerse yourself very deeply into somebody else’s work. Read a really good book, watch some good movies, whatever strikes your fancy. It’ll distract you from your own characters for a bit and might inspire some new ones. Keep your novel file closed for a couple months after you finish it. Don’t forget to edit it though, if you really love those characters.

      That’s actually what I was doing at the time.I thought it was a good one. I play video games sometimes too, but mostly RPGs. Fighting games bore me, and I’m not that interested in the tournaments. It’s not much of a story, and stories are what I’m all about.

      Thanks for stopping by,

  • (Trying again, after my computer posted the comment before I was done writing it.)
    Hi Dianna,

    I am giving this project a try, imperfectly, and starting a day late. Thank you for running this event.


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