David Sedaris on Keeping a Diary in the Age of Over-Sharing

I’m David Sedaris and I’ve kept a diary since 1977. I was 20 years old and I was in the Pacific Northwest hitchhiking around and I wrote on the back of a placemat. Then the next day, I did it again. I wish that Ihad more interesting things to say but I’ve never had to force myself to write in my diary. I wrote on the back of placemats, and then for Christmas 1977, I asked for a hardcover sketchbook. And then in 1984 I went to art school in Chicago and I took a bookmaking class and I started typing my diary. And then making a cover. So even when the writing was bad, I would still think, “Well that’s a really great painting… …of what I think my sister’s vagina looks like.” before I started writing stories. I never handed my diary over to anyone. I would die. I was sitting at the International House of Pancakes in Raleigh North Carolina with a beret screwed to my head. Reading back through my diaries and just choosing things and thinking, “Oh, this might be of interest.” Sometimes it would only be 3 sentences in a 4-page diary entry. I think a lot more people are documenting their lives now. The difference is the degree to which they’re sharing. I meet a lot of young people now and they say, “I just want to get it out there.” There’s a lot to be said for NOT getting it out there. Because it’s going to stink. Do it for a year before you go back. Just give yourself some distance.

7 thoughts on “David Sedaris on Keeping a Diary in the Age of Over-Sharing

  1. Gitting gud @ the mechanix of any h0bby is key to success. Once the physical/mental process is natual, you can focus on the higher level aspects of the task. My magnum opus demonstrates this mastery through historical romance fiction starring Bono during the Irish potato famine.

  2. To paraphrase Edison: "Writing is ten percent inspiration, and ninety percent perspiration."

    We all suck to start out with: the best of us keep working until we don't suck. This applies to practically every aspect of life.

  3. Interesting, I started writing stories first (really bad cause I was like 7) and then I started keeping diaries. But my diaries are now charater journals. I make up a character (which is me basically) and what happens to her is an exaggeration of what happens to me. Though I also often write exactly how things happened

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