Call me old-fashioned, but I like to greet the new year armed with the right stationery. Make that a Margaret Howell calendar and a proper diary. Electronic versions might be quick and easy but I spend far too much time staring at a screen already – and where’s the beauty? I much prefer to keep dates and notes in a Moleskin diary or a more decorative, handbag-friendly planner (the one above is by Katie Leamon). The transition from one year to the next used to involve an afternoon spent scribbling down friend’s birthdays and wistfully reflecting on the past twelve months. But for some reason (lack of time/ head stuck in Instagram) I’ve stopped doing this and consequently, am prone to forget dates. This is something I intend to address in 2018. And, so what if the calendar remains on the January page for the entire year, I can sleep at night safe in the knowledge that I’ll still know what day it is, even if my iPhone has a seizure.

30 thoughts on “The joy of having a proper diary

  1. So true. I am exactly the same. Recently I felt that I should abandon my faithful diary and succum to the pressure of modern technology. But I felt exactly the same as you.

  2. I love this idea…I fact I was thinking of writing letters again to my life long far away friends….we did all the time when we were young and I still recall the simple joy of finding the fat letter in the mail and reading it over and over

  3. Just finished writing in my journal this morning when I found your post. You are so right…there is something comforting about a beautiful book and “good” pen. Yesterday took my time time to fill out birthdays, appointments, and other events on my new desk calendar. Recently retired with more social events than ever I think this big calendar will be a great help. Happy New Year – look forward to reading more on your blog !

  4. I agree with you, and I still use my trusted FiloFax! Call me old fashioned but it is so frustrating when the iphone dies or there is no signal when you need crucial information! Judith

    1. You are so right Judith, I am still using the filofax I bought in 1990. I have a lovely emerald green Moleskine too.

  5. Just gone back to a diary after many years – a very chic little navy number from Copenhagen-based Notem, with a page per week opposite a page for notes – joy!

  6. Oh yes! I have a small handbag diary and also a house diary. Recently, my husband began to keep appointments on his laptop. That’s okay, but woebetide him if he doesn’t put it in the house diary as well! A couple of times recently I’ve double booked us thanks to his forgetfulness. And guess what? One of his favourite sayings when I mess up – rarely, of course! – is, ‘Isn’t communication a wonderful thing?’ Grrr! I just remind him of the time my diary entries from years back helped prove a legal point. No, you really can’t beat good old fashionable, reliable pen and paper despite the initial annual chore of copying birthdays and suchlike into a new planner. And yes, Judith D., a Filofax is necessary too. Belts and braces, eh?! And handwritten letters, aren’t they just lovely! My friend in Tasmania never writes to me any other way and as Candace says, there really is such joy to be had reading and re-reading them. I really must reply in the same way one day!

  7. I was so pleased to see your blog entry today on diaries. As a bookbinder I have a few customers who every year order their A4 diaries as they like the feel of the book, they like the way I bind them differently each year and find it quicker to use than an electronic one ! Roll on books, paper, pens and ink !!

  8. Absolutely agree Alyson. I’m building up a small library of diaries from previous years – all Smythson, all in different colours. So much symbolism in beginning a new diary/ a new year and putting the old one on the shelf. I like Smythson because the format of their Soho diary is exactly what works for me – a page for diary entries opposite a page for notes and reminders. It’s so personal though isn’t it.

  9. I’m with you on this one Alyson. Went out yesterday to buy a paper diary and notebook. I use small notebooks kept in handbag to jot things down all the year round. And I like calendars too. Art museum ones to chart the passage of time

    Probably an age thing to prefer the analogue to the digital version but I don’t care. Digital has its uses and place. Returning to a post new year yoga class today I was amused to overhear teacher talking about an app to track water drinking on her Fitbit. She has decided she needs to up her water consumption.

    I don’t have a Fitbit or any other tracker by choice. I just drink water and plenty of it morning noon and night. When I exercise I do it by the clock that is watch. Three quarters of an hour walk, walk to and from exercise class etc. And I write appointments in a diary with a felt tip pen.

  10. You are my role model. I have two reasons for hard copy calendars. First, my phone calendar is not compatible with the phone calendar(s) of others with whom it is important to co-ordinate and, second, my service provider goes down from time to time. My hard copy never does.

  11. Love this. Last year I used my phone and ended up hating it. Bought a new moleskin in December and feel much more aware of my schedule!

  12. I agree too. I tried an online dairy but couldn’t get on with it at all – and as you said Alyson we spend too much time staring at a screen already. A new calendar hangs on my wall but as yet I have no diary / journal, so I shall get one….

  13. I always use a paper diary too. My 2 criteria are that it must be lightweight for carting around in the handbag and it must be colourful so I can find it without having to root about too much in above said handbag. I’M a bit of a practical girl.
    Happy New Year

    1. I am a informant app fanatic . Have used since I bought my ipad2. It’s been like my old Filofax. BUT I am interested to know what diaries you use?
      I have iPhone 6plus to read appointments , emails, websites etc.
      The sales associate said I wouldn’t like it but I am very happy with this my del

  14. I use a digital diary method for my business and write a brief weekly overview. For my personal life, I still prefer a pretty journal and the feel of a pen in my hand.

  15. Another reason for a good old-fashioned paper calendar is coordinating with the other member of this family, though I often am “secretary” to his forgetfulness. We’ve got it down to a system, with different colored ink for different events. The best part is I save them after the year is over, and they are invaluable records of everything we think we won’t but usually do forget.

  16. I too have a handbag and a house diary – but I also have a birthday calendar which is perpetual and therefore saves me the effort of writing birthdays, anniversaries and other significant dates into my diary each year.

  17. Totally agree and now at Uni write everything in a moleskin notebook instead of straight into laptop like most of young things. Just feels more creative and also agree about letter writing. I went to boarding school and the thril of receiving a letter from my mum was the best!

  18. I’m with you 100 percent. I cannot begin to tell you the joy I’ve had reading my mother’s and grandmother’s journals, dating from the late 1800’s. It’s like time travel. I keep a small moleskin diary, which I illustrate with watercolors (I carry a tiny Winsor Newton metal lit with me). I hope someone enjoys it years from now. If not, that’s ok. The process of recording my adventures, here and abroad, the ordinary and the extraordinary is pure pleasure.

  19. I always plan to journal and it falls by the wayside of life. This year I went back to Keels Simple Diary, I had tried it back in 2010 and enjoyed the thought provoking questions. In looking back at my 2010 version it captured what was going on in my life then.
    Here is the US I got mine from Amazon.

  20. Oh, realized I forgot my English words (UK Citizen, living in US) Alyson and thought you were talking about diary/journal. I use my Iphone calendar, but love getting back to writing letters and in my journal. My handwriting has become so bad, so try to write whenever possible.

  21. Happy New Year Alyson and thank you for writing such an entertaining blog.
    Every year I order a Moleskine Large Weekly Notebook. As well as recording the obvious, I stick in cinema tickets, boarding passes, business cards, lists, notes and anything else that I want to record be it memorable or useful. It’s next to me in a meeting or phone call so that the facts can be noted down where I can find them again. I sketch; I doodle; I write secrets and curses and joys and disappointments; every so often I print some photos from my phone onto plain paper and paste them in to illustrate the year. By the end of December the book is bulging and tatty and satisfying. This year I have put Dawn French’s “Me You Diary” onto my kindle and hope this will stimulate some new ideas – I have already pasted my photo into my 2018 Moleskine with the first exercise written on the back. Hate to be without my diary.

  22. HNY Alyson! For some reason I haven’t been getting an email of your new posts for a while now. I actually only just realised when I though hmmm I wonder why Alyson isn’t blogging any more? Now I see you clearly are! I’ll sign up again now but if I don’t get another post from you then it must be some sort of glitch, I’ll let you know x

  23. Thanks, Alyson – have just checked out Katie Leamon’s website and earmarked loads of gorgeous items to purchase! The beauty of a diary is unbeatable. Just to start a new year with a new diary is sheer bliss. Now, if we add in a beautiful fountain pen with real ink…………………….

  24. I love my Filofax, have an A4 pink one for work and a more traditional brown leather personal size for Home. Buy my inserts every year for decades, the more battered they get the better I like them. Love reading the holidays and time zones for exotic places, have world and UK maps to browse and refresh my memory, notes pages and to do lists. Definitely a fan of the written word.

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