For teens interested in putting their personal feelings down on paper instead of posting them on the Web, “The Princess Diaries” writer Meg Cabot offers these five journal-writing tips:

1. Hide it.

You don’t want your diary getting into the hands of a brother or sister. Think about putting it in a plain-looking notebook that would be overlooked or putting it in between your mattress and box spring, close to the middle. And remember: the locks that come on diaries are very easy to pick. “Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security,” Cabot says.

2. Say whatever’s on your mind right now.

“What you write isn’t what you feel ALL the time, just what you were feeling at the time you wrote it,” Cabot says. So don’t worry about really venting. Most bad thoughts are only temporary, but you do need to get them out.

3. No strict schedule.

It’s not a school assignment. Your diary entries can be any length and done at any time. If you feel guilty for not writing in it often enough, don’t let the guilt take over and prevent you from getting back into it.

4. No strict rules.

The way you write, like your schedule, can be creative and imperfect. You are not getting graded, and chances are your diary will never be read by anybody but you. “You don’t have to use perfect spelling, grammar or punctuation in your journal or diary,” Cabot says. “Be as creative – or as angry and bitter – as you want to be.”

5. Keep it.

Cabot uses her own old journals as material for her best-selling books now. You never know what you’ll want to look back on about your own life. “Your diaries are important historical documents!” Cabot says. “Someday they may come in handy.”


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