Adrian Mole did it, and so did Bridget Jones.
Keeping a diary is not only a way of writing down your innermost thoughts but can also help you to express any anger or frustration you’ve felt over a particular day.
Trouble is, anyone who has tried to keep a diary will know how tough it can be.
First of all you have to find where you left it, then you have to summon up the energy to write in the thing. Days can go by with pages unfilled and you end up with a book that’s practically blank at the end of the year!
But the need for people to pour out their thoughts remains as strong as ever, and diaries are quickly being replaced by online weblogs (or ‘blogs’). The main difference being that most diarists (or ‘bloggers’) don’t just want to keep it personal; they want the world to know what they think.
Starting a blog is pretty easy. Many people think that you already have to have your own personal web space, but that’s not the case at all.
The easiest thing to do is to go to one of the sites where there are ready-made blog programmes you can use, such as Blogger and Livejournal. Both of these sites offer a free service and within minutes you can set up your own blog.
The templates can be pretty basic, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that you’ll be able to adapt your blog the way you like.
Another web site called Typepad offers a more customised service, but this isn’t free.
Now that you’ve got the blog, what do you write about?
Having your own site can be like producing a newsletter; maybe you can send round passwords to your friends so that they can access your site and keep up with what you’re doing
You can upload photos, text and link to your favourite sites. You can use the blog to be a form of diary or you can make observations about that day’s news, whatever you like, really. If your blog is to be viewed by the public, it’s important not to give too much personal information about yourself on your site.
One way to avoid being contacted by people you don’t know, or don’t want to be contacted by, is protecting part of your site with a password. It’s not always a free service, but depending on the blog package you’re using, this can be quite easy to set up.
Of course, if you do want readers that you don’t know to make comments on your blog, try downloading some software that provides each posting you make with a ‘leave comments’ option. Rather than sending an email directly to you, anyone browsing your blog can leave you a comment, and, if they wish, an email address. You won’t be able to control what they write, but you should be able to delete any comments you’re not happy with.
Remember, people who claim certain things about themselves online may not necessarily telling the truth. Any of the blogging websites mentioned above should be able to tell you how to get a comments box, as well as give you guidelines on how to keep your blog secure.
Keeping it going
The most important thing to remember is that it’s your blog. You can update it as little or as often as you like. You may find that after a while, you have legions of readers depending on your updates. It’s up to you whether or not they get their daily fix.
There have been cases where bloggers have had the contents of their blogs spotted by literary agents and turned into novels. If you are interested in writing as a career or hobby, it’s a good way of getting plenty of practice.