3 years of quotes piling up and talking to each other
I keep a running powerpoint open on my laptop at all times. I call it "beautiful things and ideas". As I find things that touch me online, I copy and paste them into this powerpoint...images, poems, quotes, ideas, short biographies, etc. Every week on Sunday I go through and read and look at some of these beautiful things and am inspired. BTW, I also keep what I call my "daily commonplace sketchbook" in a notebook (with no lines). I put the date on each page and fill it with drawings and quotes, poems, questions that I would like to figure out the answer to. You have inspired me so much through the years, Austin. Thank you!
I noticed you have Jules in your diary, which I love. I like reading through my kid quote list better than my general one. It’s weirder. Here’s a favorite from my son when he was seven: "Horses like tater tots and zebras don't. That's how you can tell the difference." Their nonsense wouldn’t mean much to other people, but we really like it.
Many years ago, I was asked to transcribe 40 years worth of five year journals! I did it in exchange for a beautiful woodstove and the opportunity to read about an Alaskan homesteader who tersely described everything from the cat he shot because it was bothering his bird watching to the struggles he and his wife had as they traveled across the US by car looking for a miracle treatment for her cancer. He was addicted bingo and testified before the Alaska legisture about big game hunting rights. He helped bury his neighbor when the ground thawed from a long winter in Anchor Point, Alaska. It was AMAZING to see how much a small diary like that can document a life.
My best friend is helping an Afghani family of 9 resettle in the SF Bay Area- here’s a great quote the father of this family shared with her...’He told me on the phone today that immigration officer asked him at the border “why are you here, we didn’t invite you”. Can you believe that? He answered: “your country came in and occupied my country for 20 years, we didn’t invite you either”. Perfect answer!’
So much cool stuff here! I love everyone’s ideas. I just use my five-year diary for daily happenings, nothing creative in that, but I do love seeing the growing evidence that I did, indeed, show up for each day. Which, obviously, we all do, but the journal also helps pluck out this or that memory from the ocean of my life, and I love that.
My other daily must-do is Morning Pages, and, inspired by Austin, I start each entry with the phase of the moon. I am constantly trying to divorce myself from my phone and so found this nifty moon phases thingie from NASA:
and it’s strangely satisfying to have the disk slowly work its way into a complete circle over the course of the year. A sort of Year Clock, I guess.
I collect my quotes on sticky notes and throw them up in the wall as I work. Once the wall is full - or if I move house! - I place each sticky note on a page of binder paper. It’s often a bit willy-nilly so things come up against each other in unexpected ways in the grid on the page. I put the sheet in a binder and start again on the wall. I grab these quotes when I’m afloat in some way - sometimes I’m a little lost and searching, sometimes I’m sad or outraged, often I am wide open to cool ideas. The notes anchor me in a good way.
Years ago I started a practice of writing one good sentence every day just as an exercise in making sure that no matter what else happened, I was practicing my craft. That practice led directly to my first book (yes, I'm about to be the guy who drops a link to his own book) and the result has been life changing. Last year I bought a 5 Year Diary (mine came from Levenger) to keep them in, though often the sentence begins in one of the Field Notes notebooks I carry all the time, sometimes I text them to myself, sometimes they are in the Notes app ... just whatever I have close to hand when the idea arrives (I keep quotes in files too – like this one! “The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.” — Henry David Thoreau). Anyway, I'm a huge fan of this kind of thing. If I could suddenly only ever retain one writing practice it would be this one. Meanwhile, here's that book I might have mentioned.... 😏
I have been collecting quotes since college, writing them on index cards. I then transferred them to handmade books that I made. I just finished filling up my last book, so have to head to the studio to make another book.
I hand rip the edges of the text pages, for a deckled look, and my paper comes from either French or Italian paper mills. Believe me it is very, very fine paper! (I just bought a deckle paper cutter, so I will see how that works.)
I copied four quotes from you piece, today, Austin. And your four quotes came on the heels of two quotes I copied down last week. I believe you will get a kick out of them:
"Follow your inner moonlight. Don't hide the madness," Allen Ginsberg
"Hell is empty and the devils are here." Billy Shakespeare
I sketch out a grid in a sketchbook each day and the different sized boxes are filled with: a quote, a small amount journaling, a room for prayers and praise, a place to sketch a daily log, and room for a one sentence memoir about my day. I often use one of the quotes in my weekly newsletter.
I started a commonplace book in a 5-year diary based on an earlier post of yours, Austin. That one simple daily practice has led to a daily writing and painting habit. It’s messy and I don’t know where it’s going, and I love not knowing.
i don't really know what to say except thank you (again) for this space - i have ordered a 5 year journal and a roget's thesaurus from my local bookseller - as i said to them in my email - if only i had all my days to draw and read and be :) (and bike too of course) - thank you so much austin, truly truly
I have a folder on my computer called “What is an image?”, after Lynda Barry. Whenever I read something online that makes me think, or see the world differently, I take a screenshot and add it to the folder. It might also be a picture, or a comic (xkcd!). Every 30 minutes the computer shows me one of these screenshots as the background. I love being surprised by them. The source usually isn’t included, which leads me to reading these with less prejudice. But since they’re from the internet, when I’m interested I search for the source. This has led me to spontaneously reading books by that person.
Very rad. Thanks for sharing. I have an entry titled "Musings" in Notion app where I place quotes, images, articles (Notion can embed bookmarks), etc as I find them. Daily, mostly digital findings. Things I revisit. This may be more of a private digital garden though? The intent is to have a running journal/archive of things I've come across that made me want to spend more time with or share.
I've come at this from many different angles and I'm constantly revising my process of daily journaling/logging/sketching. Last year I had a Field Notes book that was intended as a planner, and each week was one spread. I used the space to write down a quote every day. But I found that at the end of the notebook, it was starting to feel like a chore. Now I save quotes but I don't force myself to find one every day, that just works better for me. It's funny because I journal every day and have kept this streak going since January 2020, and that rarely feels like a chore. I use the app DayOne for journaling and have a commonplace/quotes journal there. DayOne has a feature where you can send a text and it will be saved as an entry, so when I find a quote or other piece of info I text it to my commonplace journal. Another DayOne feature is "On this day" where you can look at all the entries made over the years on a given day. So my saved quotes will appear alongside the journal entry for that day, and I can see how they "talk to each other" as Austin says, and that's really fun and sometimes insightful. I'm sure next year at this time I'll be doing something different but for now this is working for me. The most important part of all of it for me has been to simply "keep the channel open."
thank you for posting about your commonplace diary. Last year on March 11, 2022, I taped an article from Dwight Garner about commonplace books into my B.O.B. I was saving that article from the New York TImes since Nov 2020! Anyway, do you know about B.O.B.s? Book of Books. Mine is a composition book. Not fancy at all. I write the title and the date I finished the book (sometimes the date I started). It is helpful to put my thoughts about some aspect of the the book or my reactions or my connections to the book into writing. Sometimes I copy lines that got my attention in some fashion. I pasted the article by Dwight Garner in there because I didn;t want to lose it and I wanted to be able to look at it without turning on a computer. have a thoughtful and wonderful day.
I started keeping a daily log book after seeing how you (Austin) keeps one. I’ve had it going about 3 years. My grandfather passed away a few months back and we found all of his diaries and log books he kept most of his life I was shocked to find he and I log things extremely similarly. It was a great connection I didn’t know I had to him. His most amazing log books are from his navy days in WWII