SPECIAL FEATURE The joys of journaling

New year, new diary? Caroline Deacon lets us in on why she's ditched a traditional diary and embraced bullet-journaling.

I’ve got a confession to make. I don’t keep a diary. I used to write one when I was a teenager; I had a five-year one with a lock, but even then it was a bit sporadic and bulked out with who fancied who and what I was watching on TV. On leaving school, I started to use my diary to keep my life in order. Always overcommitting myself meant I needed an appointment diary, and in fact, looking back, the ones I still have are more informative about what I was up to than the secret diaries of my teen years.

When electronic organisers came along I embraced them; firstly stand-alone ones, then a Blackberry, and finally the iPhone. Paper diaries? Old fashioned. Cumbersome.

But using electronic diaries does mean you lose your own history, unless you bother to archive stuff, and even then things disappear or get superseded.

Recently I found myself buying a diary at the start of a new year and vowing to keep it up to date… but it never happened.

I also have a drawer full of lovely notebooks, many of them half filled in, which I use for writing down plot ideas, thoughts, shopping lists…anything really. And then it becomes a chore to find what I need again, and some ideas get forgotten for good.

But maybe all that is now about to change… I have just discovered a fad which has been around for some time - bullet journalling. Referred to as the analogue method for the digital age, there is something exciting and creative, not to say useful, about creating a bullet journal. The advantage this has over all other analogue methods is that’s it’s bespoke. The reason diaries fail for me is that they prescribe how much you write each day. But we all know that sometimes we need to write screeds every day, and sometimes weeks will go past without the need for any writing.

The other brilliant thing about bullet journaling is that it keeps EVERYTHING you personally need in one place. Want to keep track of exercise, dieting, sleep? You can do that alongside your to do lists for the day/week/month.

And finally, it looks nice! I always wondered what Washi tape was for. Now I know. (You don’t have to have Washi tape, any more than you have to have highlighter pens, but once you get started with it, you won’t stop).

Here are some of the things I’m doing with my bullet journal

A permanent packing list. I travel a lot, and every time I seem to end up creating a list of what I need to take. Not any more. Now I turn to the permanent list, draw a new column for a particular trip, highlight specific things needed, and tick off as I go.

Books on loan. When, who and what.

Piano. I’ve been learning this for about four years now, but practice is a bit haphazard. Now I track which pieces and which scales I rehearse and when.

Notes for work in progress. Thoughts as they come to me, which get ticked off when I deal with them. A page per WIP.

Useful books read.

Of course in addition I have my diary - things which are about to happen - in as much detail as I need. I also track various things like exercise, infrequent household chores, etc. And finally there are morning pages. I can write as much or as little as I like, whenever the mood takes me, and they are there for perusal when needed.

Your bullet journal will be personal to your own needs, and it would take too long to explain exactly how to set this up, but have a look at this website and the book that goes with it. Enjoy!

All images by Caroline Deacon

Caroline Deacon lives in Edinburgh and is the author of several childcare books. She now writes MG and YA and is agented by Lindsay Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates, Edinburgh. Find her on Twitter @writingdilemmas and at www.carolinedeacon.com

1 comment:

  1. I love bullet journalling and have been doing it for ages now. What I love is that you can keep tweaking it. I think I've got the perfect weekly spread for me, but I also know (and love that) I can change it if and when I want to. Lovely post Caroline - and I second the recommendation for the book featured here, as it offers lots of ideas rather than one way to do it. The website and quite a few other resources are a bit prescriptive, but there isn't really one way to bullet journal - it should be flexible.


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