Sunday 13 November 2022

Content Warning: Deeply Boring Post by Sheena Wilkinson

Content warning: deeply boring post follows, unless you are interested in the minutiae of other writers’ working practices. (Personally I am.) 

Like many writers, I have a serious addiction to stationery. Diaries, notebooks, loose paper, pens, post-its – I love it all.

And you can’t have too many notebooks – or can you? 


I’ve been writing professionally for over twelve years, and freelance for nine. This means juggling a lot of work. For example, in the last week I have:


·      Taught a five hour workshop in a prison;

·      Given a school talk about my fiction of the First World War;

·      Had a zoom meeting about my forthcoming new website;

·      Done my accounts. (Note to accountant: they really are on their way…ish.);

·      Proofread my forthcoming novel – out in March, can’t wait to be able to share the news officially;

·      Discussed the cover design of said novel with my editor;

·      Written a couple of thousand words of what I hope will be said novel’s sequel;

·      Written a piece for a newsletter about women and money (

·      Read several thousand words of a manuscript I’m critiquing for a client;

·      Plus all the usual admin associated with all the above – emails, phone calls, invoicing, note-taking, etc.


I’m an organised person but I’ve never seemed to crack having all my info in one place. I have a desk notebook, which might contain anything from proofing notes to a new password to the gist of a phone call or even the planning for a post like this. And a work diary which is where I log all the stuff I actually do – invaluable when it comes to calculating days worked at home for accounting purposes, and even for me justifying to myself that actually, yes, I  do work quite hard even if I sometimes feel I don’t have much to show for it.


This year I divided each page into work-work (i.e. teaching, visits, admin) and writing-work – and what’s been quite depressing is to see how much the former dominates. I wonder if putting it in the top of the page makes it seem more important? There are too many days when the bottom half is blank. And there’s no room here for information such as what I was paid, when I was paid, etc – that all goes in the proper diary. It feels like too many notebooks, and too many places. 


But next year it’s all going to change! I have just bought this GIGANTIC diary – two pages per day. I’m going to have a whole page for work-work and a one for writing-work, and plenty of space to make all the notes I need about passwords and phone calls and payments. I am sure this will make life easier, and the diary looks so huge and impressive on my desk that I am quite impatient for January.


Of course I also have a lot of notebooks for actually planning my writing-work – a memoir notebook, a general notebook, and the notebook for whichever novel I’m planning. But – no doubt much to your disappointment – I’ll save all that for another time. 


Penny Dolan said...

Love hearing how people use their diaries and notebooks so thank you.

Hope that confidently scarlet diary holds all manner of good things for you in 2023

Cynthia Peterson said...

I also enjoy hearing about diaries and notebooks, so thanks for sharing. I love the idea of a really BIG desk diary!

Rowena House said...

Really hope the new system works. PLEASE report back!

Saviour Pirotta said...

I am addicted to notebooks. I keep starting them but then forgetting what is where, and in which notebook. I'm going to take a leaf out of your book, Sheena, and have different notebooks for different projects.

Anne Booth said...

I love the look of that diary!