pen and paper

My Facebook and twitter feed are full of people talking about new year resolutions and plans to make joy jars, keep diaries, set fantastic goals.  It is a wonderful momentum created by people from all over the world as we try to make our world and our lives better places and perhaps us better people.

Over my fifty or so years I have kept a diary most of the time and added a daily gratitude list some six or seven years ago.  I have set SMART goals and fantastical goals.  I have used simple jottings to set goals and complex systems and programmes to set them.  One system required a whole book to explain the process!


Anyone who loves stationery will understand the joy of a fresh new notebook ready for you to fill with your observations, dreams, tears and private rants.  The smell of the unused paper and the creak as the spine bends for the first time.  However, the greater joy is to go back and read them.  Several years ago I got out all my diaries, going back to a 1974 Puffin Book Club diary in which I spilled my heart out with gems like “Today I palyed (sic) with Georgina”.  Some entries brought back vivid memories, some took me completely by surprise; I had no recollection of those events and they read almost like a novel.

Diaries can be cathartic.  Any diary keeper who has been through a trauma, particularly an emotional one will remember writing pages and pages of  “Why?”  “What if?”  “Could I have …?”  In my great reading session I came across the diaries I kept after my first husband left me for another woman after six months of marriage.  They made for interesting rather than painful reading.  At the time I thought I would never love or be loved again.  It was good to see how wrong I was and all those people who told be I would eventually come out on the other side were right after all.  Having said that I had no wish to keep those diaries.  They had served their purpose at the time of writing and again at the time of re-reading some 30 years later.  My husband set up a huge fire in our largest wood burning stove and I happily consigned them to the flames, they served their purpose one last time, that part of my life was well and truly over and I had no need of a written summary of it.  All the other diaries, even the excruciatingly embarrassing teenage ones I kept.

Today many people keep a blog like this one and many of those are extremely open and raw, the writer exposing themselves, sometimes anonymously, to a public they don’t know with more honesty than they may to the friends that they do.  But that is not, at least for me, quite the same as putting pen to paper that is only intended for my eyes.

So if you are making resolutions, setting goals and planning a better life then you could do no worse than resolve to keep a diary.

Love Gillie x




I’m still on paper week.  I have a morning routine that, acts of God and teenagers notwithstanding, I stick to like burrs to a dog.

  1.  Get up, dress, drink large mug of black tea and large glass of pink grapefruit juice.
  2. Take Singers to station for school.
  3. Return home and have second mug of black tea.  Check emails/blog etc and have breakfast (fruit and yoghurt/porridge/toast and marmite or marmalade depending on mood and state of pantry).
  4. Read and contemplate Bible verses from New Daylight.
  5. Write 3 things in my gratitude journal.
  6. Complete daily entry in slightly offbeat Keel’s Diary.
  7. Write Morning Pages.
  8. Meditate and Pray

After that I am more or less ready to face the rest of the world and am a nicer person for the rest of the world to have to face back.

Now, your starter for ten.  How many of the above require me to use a pen and/or paper?  The answer is 3.  Actually it is less than I had thought.  Are they necessary – ABSOLUTELY!  Can I do it differently – maybe.

New Daylight

Bible reading notes that I have been using for years and love.  And guess what – available online.  I don’t need to buy a book, I can read them on my laptop or my phone.  Advantage Gillie

Gratitude Journal

Three things, every day, for which I am grateful.  Sometimes I just about manage (1) I am alive (2) my family is alive (3) we have a roof over our heads.  But it is rare that I am that desperate.  Yesterday’s were (1) A beautiful walk home from book club along the lane at 11pm (2) Friends like V and L  (3) The soft wet nose of a dog who wants a cuddle.


I could write these in an online journal somewhere, but no, I don’t want to.  I have a beautiful blue soft leather journal The Boss bought for me from Sorella.  I feel happy just unwrapping it.  I love flicking through the previous entries.  Some repeat time after time, some reflect the position I was in at the time and some make me laugh  “Two perfect poached eggs for supper”!  Deuce

Keels Simple Diary


You have to see it to understand it.  I am on my second volume.  I have been a diary keeper from the moment I could write (a problem in itself – what on earth do I do with all those diaries, especially the mortifyingly embarrassing ones full of teenage angst and unrequited love?)  But when you write in a diary you write what you can remember, what you want to remember and how you want to remember it.  With the Keels Diary you have to fill in the gaps.  So for yesterday I had to answer:

Your day was:   a woodpecker     hip     a heartbreaker

Explain why:

This is engagingly vulgar:

What is for good?

The ideal time frame for SOON: a) not to be worlds apart  b) to be home some time after midnight c) surprising others with an earlier arrival or delivery

NEVER 1. Spit in someone’s face 2. Mess with children  3. Burn a book 4. Always be nice   5. One more time.

I had to consciously think about my day, what was it like?  Why was it like that?  What do I think?

It’s maybe not for all, but I love it.  As a little quirk of my own I write each day in the appropriate colour for the day (synaesthesia – go on look it up!)

There is apparently an app for this.  UGH.   I don’t want to fill in an app I want to write and doodle and use the right colour for the right day (Tuesday is yellow)  GAME SET AND MATCH

Morning Pages

Ha!  This was easy.  I use  I know that Julia Cameron says that it should be longhand.  But I type faster than I write and I think even faster.  Longhand was taking me ages and leaving my thoughts behind.  Anyway I like the little badges I can earn and these aren’t pages I ever intend to read again. They are a mind dump.  Online is perfect  DEUCE

But is it?  Zero waste is about throwing things out.  Neither my gratitude journal nor my Keels Diary are going to be thrown out in my lifetime (unlike those awful teenage diaries).  It is rather passing the buck to my children, but hey they have to make some decisions for themselves.  ADVANTAGE GILLIE