Way back in 2002, an artist friend recommended keeping a design journal. I did, and it turned out to be excellent advice.
I now keep 5 types of journals, which sounds obsessive but each serves a purpose and they’re not all used daily. None of them are the beautifully presented, artistic books
one sees on Instagram; they’re written purely for my own eyes and to help keep my brain organised.
1. Design sketch book, kept since 2002 and just starting on book number 9. I favour A4 spiral bound visual arts diaries full of blank cartridge paper, just waiting for sketches, notes, body measurements, knitting schematics and great ideas that pop into my head. Sometimes I cut photos from magazines and stick them in. This book is mainly devoted to fashion but includes some home decor, costume and craft ideas. At the back of the book I keep a list of everything I’ve sewn in the year, checklists for sewing workshops, books I’d like for Christmas presents and blog post ideas. The back issues are invaluable for design ideas, although the first 4 sketch books disappeared into the abyss of the shed when we moved house.
2. Separate sketch book only for zero waste patternmaking. I did this at the start of writing last year and I’m up to book number 2. The pages of these are numbered so I can reference. Zero Waste Sewing
3. Writing journal. The written version of the sketch book. I began these in 2015 and I’m up to book number 5. I like spiral bound A4 lecture books, lined. I keep them all but rarely refer to the back issues. I use these books for writing blog posts longhand, drafting letters and making job lists. I used to use scrap paper and old envelopes for this but they ended up all over the place. I find I’m best at writing during the evenings, just before bed. I’m always the last to turn in, and sitting alone in a quiet kitchen is when I enter The Zone.
4. Daily personal diary. Another spiral bound lecture book. Funnily, I didn’t feel confident enough to write a weekly blog post until I started keeping a daily diary (10 minutes/half a page). No thrilling tell-all exposes here; these are pure literary diarrhoea. I write, then forget. I don’t even re-read what I’ve written or edit anything. When I’m no longer in this world, no doubt my children will read these and see how mundane A Day In The Life was. Typical entries list chores I’ve done, bad nights sleep I’ve had, and maybe what we had for dinner. Snore.
5. There’s also an online journaling life, which you’re reading now. It’s fed by the tangible paper journals and consists of blog posts, Instagram photos, Facebook posts and Pinterest boards. The online journaling is mostly images and while it’s useful I find pen and paper more convenient for getting ideas out.
Do you keep a sketchbook or nurture a daily diary habit? Do you prefer paper or computer? How helpful do you find it?