To me writing a diary, or journal, is about senses; I’m capturing my memories using my senses as well as my thoughts. This is one of the reasons why I handwrite my diary; even though I type quicker than I write I like the sensation of pen on paper and believe it helps my thoughts flow.
I’ve written a diary on and off since I was eleven and have used a variety of diaries and notebooks ranging from university notebooks to Italian leather books. When I was younger I decorated the books (my first includes pictures of Dirty Dancing, Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street and Corey Haim and Corey Feldman) but more recently I’ve bought pretty or interesting books. I’ve also gone from A5 page a day diaries to lined notebooks to plain notebooks and I’m currently using an A6 page a day and a few lines in a five year journal.
I only have a few requirements in a notebook. I like smooth paper; scratchy paper which causes a pen to stick or leave uneven marks is annoying and interrupts my thought process. I like the notebook to feel luxuries because it adds pleasure each time I use it and the book must be compatible with using a fountain pen. I admit I don’t always use my fountain pen but when I do, I don’t want the ink to come through the page or to feather around the text because it makes it difficult to read later.
Paperblanks is a brand I discovered after my sister-in-law bought me a couple of their notebooks for Christmas, and I learnt they meet my requirements as well as as coming in a variety of sizes, covers and formats.
The first two notebooks were plain page Ultra and Midi sizes with a magnetic closure. The fold over closure feels secure and has been useful because I carried the Midi book in my handbag and I didn’t want other items to slot inside and bend the pages. That notebook has seen a lot with me, including two pregnancy scans where I remember writing as I sat in the waiting room. I used the Ultra book as my main diary so it remained in my bedside drawer.
I purchased the small pink book to capture the stories my daughter tells me about her (imaginary) fairies. I wanted a book that was small as I don’t know long the fairies will be around (they are currently on a long holiday in Africa) but pretty and magical looking. Shiny pink with gold swirls fits the requirements. My daughter loves the book and sometimes we read it before bed instead of a story and relive comments such as:
- B’s fairies are not allowed pets; except for parrots
- B can’t really see her fairies, but she can leave them a phone message
- B’s fairies are taller than Daddy
Even though I’ve used their notebooks for several years, I didn’t know Paperblanks did diaries and planners (maybe because I’ve concentrated on non dated books recently), so when I was asked if I wanted to try an 18 month planner I was very excited. Although I have no idea what you use 18 month planner for; are they for people who can’t decide between a normal diary and academic planner, but what do you do at the end of 18 months or do you run two in parallel for 6 months?
Anyway, we use Google calendar for our appointments, even B has one so all three carers (ED, mother in law and I) have access and can see what she is doing each day. So instead of using the planner to record appointments, it is our central place to record items we need to buy or take somewhere on a specific day, such as birthday presents to a party or items to go on the shopping list.
We’re not currently using the overview pages because we can easily see this in our digital calendar, but I love the space. In normal diaries you have the whole year on the inside cover and you can squeeze one short thing in for each date, but in the Paperblanks planner there is room for several words. There are also several timetable pages which I’m thinking of using to list the times of B’s extracurricular activities, because I haven’t worked out her timetable in reception yet.
The planner also includes an address book stored in the standard pocket at the back. At first, I thought this was pointless as all my numbers are stored in my phone, but realised it was a useful place to store important numbers such as school, nursery and doctors so they can be accessed quickly, particularly for my mother-in-law. The book is so small that even if she has to look at every page it won’t take long to find the correct number.
Would I buy Paperblank notebooks and planners again?
Absolutely. Now I know Paperblanks make diaries I am going to add a small page a day diary to my wish list. This year, I made the decision to use a dated diary on 1st January so bought what I could find in my nearest town; it is actually pretty good as the cover is interesting and pages are smooth but it does not feel luxurious. However, I do have an issue with the book sizes. I work very well on the ISO A sizes, so I know I want an A6 diary, but unfortunately Paperblanks use their own system which involves me having to look up the dimensions of A6 and compare it to the Paperblanks website and pick the closest match; not straightforward.
When we replace the 18 month planner, I really like the Verso layout which has a week on one page next to a lined page. This works great for our use because we can write a long list and link it to the relevant date, rather than squeezing the list into the available date. I’ve never seen this format before and think it is fabulous, but unfortunately it appears there are none available at the moment. I hope they are in stock this time next year.
What type of notebooks and diaries do you use? Do you have a list of requirements like me? How would you use an 18 month planner?
Disclaimer: I was given two notebooks by my sister in law, one by Paperblanks and I bought one. I was not paid for this post and all opinions are entirely my own.