Creative Living Creativity Corner

a diary system

January 18, 2012

I belong to the generation that learned to embrace the internet and technology half way through my life. Mobile phones, email, internet and texting were fine and exciting. But, i used to ask, do people really switch to an online diary? I remember a friend of mine who was obsessed with her palm organiser back in the late 90’s. I was horrified. And what about those who rushed to buy the very first digital cameras? Plleeeeaasee! You mean, you’d give up film for digital?

I think you get the picture. It took me ages to let go of the old ways. I was the girl, who in the middle 80’s rushed to the very first filofax shop in murray street, in london’s camden town. Anyone remember that shop? My love affair with their diaries set off an obsession that lasted for many years…

I learned that although i naturally have small writing, i needed a bigger size and am sorry to say that filofax a5 binders, which finally launched, just didn’t cut the mustard! No, i discovered the gorgeous and luxurious mulberry agenda. I felt sophisticated and all grown up. I could keep a diary, address book, pages to sketch on, same as with the filofax system, but the bigger size helped enormously. Oh, i didn’t much like the mulberry diary inserts so used the filofax a5 month to a view instead.

Next, i wanted to find a way of capturing diary entries together with to do lists and have it all in one place. I decided it was time to develop my own system. So i created one…  looking back, it was time consuming and bulky to store. I designed my own lined pages, printed them out, bought some card for the front and back covers and simply used a stapler to bind it all together. Now i had a new system. Yah!

Finally i realised i cannot sketch and be creative with lines so for the next few years i used plain layout. The only change was the front and back cover. It was fun to choose different coloured cards.

Still with me? So, i started to feel i will need to move flat to house my diaries if i continue this way. A re-think was the only way. I don’t know why it took me so long but one of my favourite notebooks has to be the wonderful moleskine range. I like the weight and quality of the paper. I figured out i can use one a5 notebook for every 3 months. My prayers were answered.

When the iPhone launched in 2007, everything changed for me. There now was a reason to keep an online diary on the phone. It all synched beautifully with my iMac. Well,  steve jobs was my hero. My books became a daily record of what i was working on or up to. I am really happy with my system. For now! Storing is easy. 4 books per year. Done!

To make it more personal i commissioned a lovely artist on etsy to saw me some covers for my notebooks.  For now, it’s the fourth year, i’m really happy with my system of using technology alongside my notebooks. Who knows what happens next?

I would love to hear how others out there deal with diaries and keeping a record. Is it all gone digital? Do share. For me, i now have a record of stuff that happened in the last 25 years. If anyone wants to know what i did on the 20 november 1989, just ask!

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  • Reply Chi @ Carousel January 18, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Tina?!!! :O

    Your dedication to the cause of record-keeping (and, indeed, filofaxes) is nothing short of astounding and admirable. Where, pray tell, do you keep it all?

    I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for years but with a blog, a toddler and a new business I think I shall soon be hopping on your bus, girlfriend! 😀

    • Reply tina January 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      @ Chi You mean, my being anal:) I know, I know! Not sure where it comes from. Knew I forgot to ask something when I used to go to therapy!

      Oh, I know tons about flying by the seat. Might be the expert in that!

      @ theresa It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one! Don’t start me on keeping separate notebooks/sketchbooks… I still do, for different projects. Can you feel another post coming? Yep, more stuff like that will be shared.

      Can’t wait to read your post on journaling.

  • Reply Theresa January 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    So glad you shared your method of life chronicling with us, and I love all the real glimpses of your books. So interesting. I tell you, we must be on some kind of similar wavelength. I’m talking about journaling tomorrow. Like you, I’ve been keeping a log of my life journey for over 20 years! Wowzers, are we that old?! 😉 In the beginning and for many years, I had separate notebooks/journals for everything – sketches, quotes, ideas, and life status. Now, I favor Moleskine and keep everything in one journal. This method is more functional for me. Thanks, Tina. I really love this post!

  • Reply Lauren January 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Funny, I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal merger of technology and uh…non-technology?! I loved this post too, and I loved the photos of all your filofaxes. I worked for an office supply company right out of college and by far the best bonus were the pens and filofaxes! I adore my iPhone, computer and laptop (you’ll have to pry them from my dead hands), but I need a paper calendar. I like the act of writing on paper and the record it keeps.

    • Reply tina January 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      @ Lauren Hello… I am so with you on that. I am a huge technology fan, hence my post on steve jobs. But there is something about the art of writing or sketching on paper that is, to me, so satisfying and I couldn’t do without. Like Theresa, I’ve now managed to hone in and find the best method for me, but yes, it took a while.
      I get you, re: office supply. I am, btw, obsessed with stationery and collect it. (can’t wait to blog about it:) I’m known to go to Paris and Berlin stationery shopping…
      I suppose eyeing up filofaxes must have made the day go by quicker!

      @ Erin The booklets look alright? Some are soiled from carrying around in bags. Oh, the past dilemma of which card to use so that it doesn’t get too dirty. I think they weathered well. I must admit, I’m delighted that now I only have 4 Moleskine per year. The storing became an issue.
      I was wondering whether to throw some out but, like my magazine collection, am reluctant to do so. Still hoping I will find a warehouse where I can build a library… that’s another story!
      Prey tell, what were you up to in your teenage years? Sounds intriguing:)

  • Reply Erin January 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Oh my gosh! I can’t believe you have that many journals and calendars dating that far back. I wish I had kept better records my days, especially for my crazy teenage years (though they weren’t too long ago). That is an impressive feat, what you’ve amassed. Where do you keep them all? I hope someplace waterproof and safe! Now I’m curious to know what you were up to on any given day. What a fun thing to be able to look back and know!

  • Reply Erin January 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Ha! Nothing too interesting, I swear. Just super boy crazy! It would be fun to re-read all of my melodramas surrounding my high school boyfriends, that’s all. And yes, definitely look into building a library somewhere. Then you get to have a vintage card catalog chest as decoration 🙂

    • Reply tina January 19, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Yeah, know what you mean. I can see all my boy related stuff and laugh about it… Have you ever seen a pic of Karl Legerfelds library in Paris? That’s the one I want:)

  • Reply Heather @ Canal Notes January 19, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I love this – what a fun subject! I wish that i has kept my calendars from my pre-technology days, although likely nothing too interesting – just school assignments and to do lists. I’ve always admired those who can keep up a good habit of writing in a journal! Especially as i love beautiful paper and notebooks so much – i really envy those who can make use of them:) And I am tempted to quiz you and ask what indeed were you doing on 20 Nov 1989?

    • Reply tina January 20, 2012 at 12:14 am

      Ha ha…, would have to look it up!! Was wondering whether someone would be curious and ask.

      If you love beautiful paper, you can write a letter? What, I hear you squeek? Writing a letter? Why not write your hubby a letter from the US, as you will be apart for a bit? Just a thought! Have a good trip:)

  • Reply Josh January 21, 2012 at 6:01 am

    Wow, I love this post. I actually carried around notebooks from the mid nineties to about 2002, when I just stopped keeping any kind of calendar or record at all. I started about two years back to keep a calendar online but found I did not utilize it particularly well. This past summer I bought a filofax and have been obsessed with writing again ever since. I have accumulated two filofaxes now, plus a lovely simple Clairefontaine notebook, a basic fountain pen, a pencil case…. And I write constantly. It is wonderful. I don’t have nearly the collection you do, but just tonight was busy flipping through one of my old notebooks from 10 years ago, loved seeing what I was up to.

    • Reply tina January 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Josh, thanks for stopping by… glad to see there are more obsessives out there…. Yep, good old filofax. Glad you love yours. Don’t get me started on Clairefontaine, pens and pencils. All obsessions of mine. Will be checking out your blog… have a good weekend.

  • Reply annie January 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Wow this has kinda freaked me out! You’re all so organised. Tina that’s truly fascinating, amazing that you have all that stuff and that you write everything down. The photos are fantastic.

    Richard uses those Moleskines too, he’s a total freak, he has a whole book shelf in his office where they’re all lined up, it’s very sleeping with the enemy as they’re all exactly the same.

    I’m a bit odd. I can only trust what is in my head. I believe in writing things down to get them out of your head and therefore I can’t write anything down that I’ll need to remember, as the act of writing it down will make me forget it. This helps me to not stress about things and I only have to carry around in my head things I need to remember. So everything else goes in my moleskine (I only like the A4ish large ones, soft cover, lined). Basically for me, the act of writing something down commits it to my memory and so I never ever look through my notebooks. All a bit backwards really. I do use the iCal on the mac which I like but I can’t sync it with my work laptop so that’s a bit useless. I remember all my stuff very well but I can’t remember anyone else’s. So I can never remember what R is doing for example which means I always forget to ask him how important things went.

    I also use the Stickies on the mac. I have hundreds of those with sayings and soundbites that I like to re-read, inspiration quotes, that sort of thing.

    Am I weird?? Did any of that even made sense?

    • Reply tina January 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Didn’t mean to freak you out:)

      Richard’s line up of M’s is what I expect of him:) I must find a way of personalising mine when lined up as the black is rather male and all too common. Sorry R!

      Don’t think you’re odd. You have your way of doing things. That’s what makes us all different and individuals… interesting how writing something down makes you forget it, bit like the act of delegation for me. Whereby keeping it in your memory exercises those muscles in your brain and forces you to remember. How do you deal with work stuff? Hhmmmm, interesting!!

  • Reply Beth January 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I can’t believe we wrote about diaries on the same day! How cool. I LOVE this Tina. I did this years ago and so wish I had stuck with it. I also miss the amazing stationery shop I used to love in the US. Have never found anything quite like it here – need to keep looking. Another reason to come back to London.

    • Reply tina January 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Beth, I remember I commented on your post! Don’t get me started on stationery shops. I am obsessed and never really found a great one here, even in London. Best ones are in Germany, Paris and Italy. We can go hunting together:)

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