08 September 2009

What makes a truely great diary?

I'm not a great diary/journal writer. I start off with the best of intentions to write something every day and then it fizzles out, or I only record none routine events in any week. I'm not going to attempt to make any excuses... it's just one more thing to do I suppose.

I came across my diary from 1987/88 that I kept quite well. It was at the time when my son was born. So it made interesting reading. Back then I used to commute to London each day so I guess I had more time to kill on the journey. It was also the first year of having a Filofax.

On the BBC website today there is an article about the late Alan Clark, a former MP. Who was quite a character. He had his diaries published and they became best sellers.

Here's a link to the article on the BBC website.

So what do you record in your diary?


  1. I have written in diaries/ journals for years. When I was younger I wrote journals full of my feelings, thoughts, and plans. Later when I traveled and started living overseas, my journals were filled with what I did and places I went. When each of my children were born I started a journal for each of them detailing cute things they did, and later said, as they grew from babies to kids.

    This is my second year in a row using a large day per page diary as my journal. My younger self would have scoffed at having *only ONE* page per day! But now that I am home all day with two small children, one page is all I have the time or energy to fill. I have found though that almost always, one page is enough to describe even my busiest days. Every now and then it spills over onto the next day's page. I write what we did that day, what the weather was that day, cute things the kids did and said (to transfer to their respective journals later), and whatever else I want to remember about the day. It makes a great record of my life overseas while my kids are small.

  2. I meant to add, what I like about the day per page format is that if I don't write that day, I can go back and fill it in later. And, it doesn't prevent me from writing in subsequent days. Back when I used a blank book, if I didn't write for a few days I would have a backlog. With the dated day per page diary, I can wait until I have the time to sit and fill in the details of a particular day, and still write in the days since then.

  3. I have a separate journal from my Filo, which I use to write things that I have done and/or feelings about different events in my life. I do not write in it every day, mainly because there doesn't seem to be enough time. I do make time at least once a week to write in it. But sometimes it's hard to remember everything I want to write about though, getting to it (most times) only once a week. This is why I keep a running list of topics and ideas in my Filo for things that I want to write about in detail. It comes in handy to look back at my list so I can document the events of my life.
    As for what I keep track of in my Filo - mainly I keep track of appointments and daily/weekly to-dos as well as various lists. One of my coworker's husband has a day planner where he keeps track of every single thing he's done in a day - if he didn't feel well, things he's done with the kids, people he's met with for work, etc. This proved to be handy when he had health complications and could look back to determine exactly when he started to feel bad. This is something that would come in handy for myself too (not just for health reasons, but for anything really), but the week-per-two-pages layout doesn't allow for this much information. After having read Laurie's comment though, it's something I'm considering.

  4. I started keeping a journal as a child...after seeing The Homecoming, and reading books like Harriet the Spy and I Capture the Castle, all of which dealt with budding writers who kept journals. I used composition books or spiral bound notebooks. I'm the type that can't write in anything fancy. It sort of paralyzes my creativity.

    I've gotten better on that front, though, and a few years ago used gilt-edged, refillable journals from Exacompta. When I began using an A5 Filo for most of my work, I decided that compatibility was important. If I'm carrying this huge organizer, I don't want to have to carry my journal, too. I wanted the Filo pages and journal pages to be the same size so I can transfer them from one book to the other.

    I've found Miquelrius A5 spiral notebooks to be the ideal solution. I can keep my journal in a Miquelrius, but write the odd journal entry on Filo paper and later slip it into the notebook. Or if my journal is handy, I can write something on a page that will eventually make it into my Filo.

  5. Laurie, I really like the way you're using the daily pages. It sounds like the amount of space is just right, and they're going to be so precious someday!