Commonplace books

Recently there has been quite a bit of buzz about commonplace books. Commonplacing is the art of keeping quotes, words that strike deep inside of you, words that cause you to think, contemplate, ponder. This is indeed an art. It is easy to just copy any combination of words but it is a gift of picking the words that represent ideas or are just plain beautiful.

I have been keeping a commonplace book since my children were young but I wasn’t faithful in entering quotes or thoughts. Two years ago, though, I was spurred to be more consistent in my entries. The problem was, though, that whenever I found a passage that I wanted to write into my commonplace book, well I couldn’t find my book. That happened quite a few times. Now, I keep it beside my bed as that is where I do the majority of my reading. I have gotten in the habit now that if I do read somewhere else I take my commonplace book with me, just in case.

Before, commonplacing was a chore, something that I felt I had to do. I didn’t realize the beauty of keeping this type of journal. I didn’t see the purpose of slinging other people’s words into a book where they were all mingled together. If I wanted to find a quote how in the world was I going to find it in amongst the gazillion other quotes that were smooshed up around it. My book seemed chaotic to me but I didn’t have any idea as to how to organize it.

Then I watched the video by the Schole sisters last month. That was a breath of fresh air as far as commonplacing goes. Three of the four ‘sisters’ shared how they keep their commonplace book. In watching the video I realized that commonplacing is an individual, creative art. Each person has their own way, style of journaling in this manner. This was my answer in finding a better way to organize my book; I needed to find my own style, my own personality of commonplacing. In listening to these four women tell how they journaled to meet their personalities, I was able to find my own style.

The one thing that bothered me about keeping a commonplace book was that all of the quotes were smooshed together with quotes from other books. I read a number of books all at the same time so I might have a quote from ‘Pilgrim’s Regress’ but right next to it is a quote from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and so it goes. It was too chaotic for my ordered soul. In watching the video, though, I decided to keep an index a la bullet journal. So I keep three or four pages for a book and write the words that jump out at me. Next to it I set aside three or four pages for another book that I am reading and so it goes. If I need more than four pages for a book then I go to the closest blank page and reserve the next 4 pages for that book. I number each page of the journal and at the end of the book I keep a page with all of the book titles and the page numbers that host the quotes from that book.

Voila! Chaos tamed.

I have also started to make this book mine. I am a girl who loves, craves colour so I put this in my commonplace journal. Each quote is written in a different coloured pen. Oooh! It is so pretty! I now have a rainbow book full of beautiful, thoughtful words. I love it. This inspires me to write more in it.

When I first started journaling the words that found themselves being copied were those that were beautiful to me, words that made my heart leap as I read them but now my copied words tell of ideas; ideas that inspire the mental Grand Conversation that I have with myself. This copying fuels my soul.

I have finally figured out how to make commonplacing mine.

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