ON KEEPING A JOURNAL – with advice from Virginia Woolf




I am a keeper of journals.

Scribbled  with secret thoughts.

Faded photographs.

Demanding lists.

Thoughts and bits and pieces of my life.

Cherished Letters.

Empty envelopes.

Even a pressed flower to remember a summer day.

Virginia Woolf kept diaries – more than thirty-two marble patterned notebooks.   Her diaries –  one of the most complete records of an exceptional writer.

“What sort of diary should I like mine to be?  Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace any thing, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind.

I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking.

I should like to come back, after a year or two and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work or art.

The main requisite, I think, on readying my old volumes, is not to play the part of a censor, but to write a the mood comes or of anything whatever; since I was curious to find how I went for things put in haphazard, and found the significance to lie where I never saw it at the time.”

(written April 1919)


11 thoughts on “ON KEEPING A JOURNAL – with advice from Virginia Woolf

  1. This is a lovely post. I think if I kept a journal there would be a written record for people to look back on and say ” well…I guess she really was crazy after all” lol Maybe if I traveled to exotic locations more….not very exciting here in my little house in the country : ) huggs from your friend Ginny

    • Ah … my dear friend Ginny you don’t need to travel to some place exotic. You live in a beautiful area. You are extraordinarily creative. You have huge love and respect for your pets. You have a wonderful family. You have much to write about.. Simple random thoughts. Words for just you. XXOOVirginia

  2. Lovely post Ms Virginia, yes writing in a journal is a wonderful way to write love notes to oneself. If only I would depart with my thoughts and commit them to ink… perhaps fear of commitment to me myself and I … 😉

    Love from all of me… A

    • If one looks at writing in a journal – as just notes… thoughts quickly jotted down.. . nncomplete sentences … one word … sometime a sketch … not concerning oneself with doing it every day. Keeping a journal is easy when you forget structure and just write. I know what marvelous thoughts are in Amy’s head. Love Miss V.

  3. i too am a writer of journals but every year i am pleased to throw a few old ones out, I do glean, but most of it is boring moaning rubbish. I think my journals are where i dump these thoughts so that they do not get in the way of my life! I live in terror of someone reading them!! morning darling.. I dropped in before I go out into the cold to do some work in the barn and Now i am going to give some serious thought to creating journals FOR people to read, maybe then i will create something marvellous.. tho the blog is a journal really without the moany bits!.. c

  4. May great-great-grandmother kept a journal for many years and I was fortunate enough to discover them several years ago. It was quite an insight to her daily life. I randomly keep a journal. I like the way you describe your journal writings.

  5. Let not jotting notes in a journal be something to fear but rather a place to go for whatever the reason. It can be a place for saving precious quotes, documenting late night thoughts or, simply writing about that which you observe when out in the world, even if in a different neighbourhood.

    A long time ago, when in Italy, my camera broke so I wrote about that which I saw. Twenty years later, when one night this particular journal’s pages were turned, I was delighted and amazed at what was captured by my eyes rather than a camera. It provided for a wonderful few hours of entertainment.

    The same held true for my journals from highschool which were saved for me by my mom ( God forbid.) I don’t know if she ever read them but at this point in my life, they represent the banal jottings of a teenager which I am thrilled to have because of memories that are refreshed. Although, I must admit, one was written in “pig” latin so it could not be understood; rather ironic, because now I am no longer able to understand the entries.

    If things are so personal that you would want no other to ever lay eyes upon your thoughts, let it meet with fire one day or, perhaps have a pact with a dear friend to rid your home of same upon your demise. I have such a pact with my dear Meece.( please don’t forget.)

    I think it also important to remember that journals can provide insight into one who might have died. It becomes the choice of another whether to read them or, not.

    They line my bookshelves and are rarely read but I find comfort in knowing they are with me.

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