Letters to Kitty: Journalling in a Filofax

Today is the 1st of February, one month since New Year and I thought I’d write a post about how I am getting on with Journalling and the Page-Per-Day Journalling Challenge. I have since discovered that this Page-Per-Day Journalling Challenge is only for the people who have gone corporate and bought their assigned planner for the task, rather than sticking to the intended spirit of being there as a facebook group to help encourage other people and share inspiration. So I am now on the hunt, although unsuccessfully to find some other groups that don’t really care where you are journalling.

First let’s talk about my setup. When I was planning to start journalling I didn’t know what to use paper wise. Should it be plain for free writing or whether it should have a specific format, size was also an important consideration. So I began to think what would work for me. I keep a Personal sized filofax with me pretty much all the time. My filofax since switching into a Malden has gotten extremely fat and bulky. I don’t mind that but when I use my smallest bag there is barely enough room for my phone, let alone a little mini Malden which I use as a purse. So it was quite clear from the beginning that if I wanted to save on space, rather than looking for a separate book or another binder to carry around I was just going to use my personal Filofax.


Then came the decision making with regards to what to actually use. I tried, without success to find either lined paper I liked or somewhere where I could just buy plain cut to size personal paper that was already punched. I found a couple that had logos on, such as the filofax ones, but I didn’t like them. I eventually decided that I would probably have to go down the route of making my own, at least this way I could choose the paper quality I wanted. Then there was the decision whether to have it with a date pre written on, like a page per day, or to leave it more flexible if I wanted to write more. I posted a couple of questions looking for advice on Philofaxy. People suggested that leaving it blank without a date would leave it open for me to write more if I wanted to write more.

So that’s my set up. I just have completely blank paper cut to size and punched and it just sits in a dedicated space in my planner for me to use. That way, if I wanted to write more I could, if I wanted to write less it didn’t mean I was carrying around additional pages.


There are pros and cons to this setup, which I have experienced since I’ve been using it. I like the flexibility of being able to write more or less depending on my mood. BUT one of the major problems I didn’t imagine was that if I skip a day and do not write it; I find it very difficult to be able to just fill the day I am on and go back and capture past days. I feel like I have to sit and write each day in sequence. Now because I am still new to journalling there have been occasions I have forgotten to write for days, because I crawl late into bed and I am just too tired to write. The problem thereafter is that because I have days building up I feel overwhelmed to find time to sit and write previous days and in reality all I would like to do is quickly jot down something that happened today. In the end I tend to write only a small amount, usually because I’ve left it several days and I need to catch up quickly, so at the moment I tend to write maybe 2 days on one page. I am not worried about writing less. At the moment my main goal is just to try and get into the habit of writing everyday, even if it is just a sentence or two. So I am already thinking about next year and I am thinking that I would like to go with dated day inserts, which may limit how much I can write, but may solve the problem I am currently having. Although I do have 11 months to force myself into the habit or writing everyday.

The next important thing I have discovered or done this month was that I have decided to give my Journal a name. I felt like giving my Journal a name would help me to write each day in the form of a little letter to my Journal. Whilst thinking for names, the obvious one that entered my mind was Kitty. As I am a Holocaust historian, it was natural for me to think towards Anne Frank and her diary, which she called Kitty. It got me thinking about the diary she received for her 13th Birthday on the 12th June, 1942. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. Her death is believed to have occurred in February, the camp was liberated two months later in April.


If Anne Frank would have been alive today she would have been 86, and I am sure she’d have had a good 73 years writing to Kitty had she continued to do so. A few years ago there was a project within the UK to get children around Anne’s age to begin writing diaries. I decided that this year I would try and write my journal to Kitty, as a reminder of Anne and all the years she never got to write to Kitty.

Other than writing, I try to stamp a tiny icon with the weather each day so I can just have a visual record of it. I have a virtual post it note on my computer, keeping a running tally of what the weather was like each day, because like my writing I don’t always feel like stamping the weather in every day.

I did also try to keep a line guide when I was writing to attempt to keep my writing a little neater, but in the end experimented without it and decided that I was easier to write without it and it didn’t look any different without it.

That basically concludes my first month writing my letters to Kitty. If you have been doing the Day-per-page challenge or are a regular journaller I’d love to hear about your setups and maybe use a couple of your tips!

Update (01/02/2016):
Someone said they intended to find out more about Kitty, here are a couple of links I recommend:

A youtube documentary about Anne Frank

In the documentary Anne hears that Jews are being gassed to death and she wonders if that is a quick way to die. Whilst it is a quicker way to die than slow starvation and forced labour, it was a lottery depending on where you stood. It could take as little as 2 minutes to die, it could take as long as 20-30 minutes whilst the Zkylon B slowly starved your oxygen away.

Anne was 15 when she went to Auschwitz so narrowly missed the gas chamber. She instead was shaven, tattoo and sent within the work camp. Eventually she ended up in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died probably of Typhus, she was burried at Bergen Belsen, in one of several mass graves. Her exact whereabouts of her remains are unknown.

Her Father, Otto, was the only member of the Family to survive the Holocaust. He was given Anne’s diary by Miep Gies, who had saved it hoping to give it back to Anne. It was first published in 1947.

A second youtube documentary

A BBC drama of The Diary of Anne Frank

A Wikipedia entry about Anne Frank

Her Diary in Print


So for 2016 I have decided I would like to keep a Journal. I tried to keep one last year but it is electronic and me and the software did not get along! Long story short, I got frustrated and stopped.

This year I am doing it on paper so hopefully it’ll be a little easier. Since I already plan to carry my personal Filofax wherever I go, I figured it would be ideal for me to slip a couple of blank pages in there and write. Over time I would transfer these to a stay at home Filofax so my main one doesn’t get too cluttered.

I came across a Journalling Challenge on the Quo Vardis blog. The aim is to simple do a page a day in a journal, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a full written page but a photo or a quote, just some way of capturing the day. There is also a Facebook community with other people taking up the challenge. (Update (01/02/2016: I have since discovered that the group is for only those who have bought a Quo Vardis product to journal in, rather than than supporting anyone just wanted to journal. So I am on the hunt for a new group and have removed the links).

Whilst discovering this challenge I read two great things on the Quo Vardis blog. The first is how people often get anxiety about writing in a blank book. They say that the find the blank book perfect and by somehow writing in it with your less than perfect handwriting, you somehow ruin the perfectness of the book. The blog explains that this is a misconception, the book rather than being perfect for being empty, is inperfect or flawed because it is empty and unfilled. Each empty page marks a wasted documented day or a page unfulfilled.

The second is the idea of a minute book. Keeping the book close to hand and jotting down anything that inspires you to write, whatever it is. It doesn’t even have to be a full expression or story, it could simply be a quote or an observation.

I quite like both ideas. I have always been a person too scared to use an empty note book for fear of ruining it. That’s why I like a Filofax, if it is really bad I can simply remove it, but lately I have been embracing the imperfect nature of things and knowing that it is ok for thing to be imperfect…because everything is imperfect…it doesn’t mean that it is any less beautiful.

Today is day one and I feel inspired and excited to embrace it.