This Delightful Habit of Journalising

“I see what you think of me,’ said he gravely – ‘I shall make but a poor figure in your journal tomorrow.’
‘My journal!’
‘Yes, I know exactly what you will say: Friday, went to the Lower Rooms; wore my sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings – plain black shoes – appeared to much advantage, but was strangely harassed by a queer, half-witted man, who would make me dance with him, and distressed me by his nonsense,’
‘Indeed I shall say no such thing.’
‘Shall I tell you what you ought to say?’
‘If you please.’
‘I danced with a very agreeable young man, introduced to me by Mr King; had a great deal of conversation with him – seems a most extraordinary genius – hope I may know more of him. That, madam, is what I wish you to say.’
‘But, perhaps, I keep no journal.’
‘Perhaps you are not sitting in this room, and I am not sitting by you. These are points in which a doubt is equally possible. Not keep a journal! How are your absent cousins to understand the tenor of your life in Bath without one? How are the civilities and compliments of every day to be related as they ought to be, unless noted down every evening in a journal? How are your various dresses to be remembered, and the particular state of your complexion, and the curl of your hair to be described in all their diversities, without having constant recourse to a journal? – My dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies’ ways as you wish to believe me; it is this delightful habit of journalising which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies are so generally celebrated. Everybody allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female. Nature may have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal.”

I love this dialog between Henry Tilney and Catherin Morland in the very beginning of Northanger Abbey! It’s so sweet and charming and funny! And I think it’s interesting how they discuss journals. It isn’t that often that you encounter any mentions of journal writing in books like these I think. Letters are plentiful, but not journals in the same way. And yet, the way Henry talks about it in the quote above it sounds like keeping a journal was something most ladies did. And so why is it we never hear of them? And if that was the case, where have they all gone to? I wonder if Jane Austen herself kept a journal… Just imagine reading that! But if she did, I suspect it probably shared the fate of all those letters Cassandra got rid off…

There is something very special about reading journals I find. I just finished reading Anne Frank’s diary, or “The Diary of a Young Girl”. It’s a book I have been meaning to read for a very long time, and finally I got around to doing it. It was fascinating and touching to read. Because it was a journal you got to see so much of what she thought and felt, saw her secret hopes, dreams and fears. That’s what makes reading journals special I think. They way it opens up the door into another persons life. And often I get the feeling that those people, are really not that different from me.
I haven’t read many “real” journals, a few, but many fictional ones. In those of course not every little detail is true, but it still gives a much more personal feeling to the book, and often I find I like that.

I keep a journal myself. Have done so for three years now. Before then I had often tried to do it. Because I wanted to keep a journal. But… it never worked…. The reason for that I think was that I compared myself and my writing to my dear sister Viktoria’s. You see, she kept journals (I say journals, because she had several!) for many years. And she was so good at it! She wrote many times every day and filled book after book in no time at all! And I couldn’t do that. It didn’t work for me. So every time I gave it a try I would give up after a day or two. Until at last I decided that I would write, but only when I wanted to. So not every day (unless I wanted to of course) and not about everything, only when I felt like it. And then finally it worked! I was delighted! And it has been working very well now for, like I said, three years. I write now and then. Sometimes a couple of times a day, if I feel like it, and sometimes not for several weeks. But I confess, when I haven’t written anything at all for about two weeks I get a bit of a bad conscience… ๐Ÿ˜‰

I really want to show you some pictures of the journal I write in now, because it’s so pretty! A good friend sent it to me (thank you Sarah!) last year. She said she’d seen it and thought of me instantly, and just had to buy it! I was very surprised to get it, and fell in love with it at first sight!

From the front.




And close up of the text on the back. On the front it also says Charlotte Brontรซ, and then the other writing is a part from Jane Eyre! ๐Ÿ˜€


Isn’t it gorgeous?! I think so! I am dreading the day when I shall have finished it!
For me it is important that the book I write in is pretty, it makes the whole thing much more fun! The one I had before this one was one I liked very much too…


The pages in this book were beautiful, and the first page had a Shakespeare quote on it!


I’m really curious to know, how many of you keep journals? And if you do, how do you go about writing in them? Do you write every day, sometimes, about everything or only about certain specific things? I’m just curious to hear what others do, if you are willing to share!

And then I’ll just have to finish this off with another fantastic quote about journals/diaries. From Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.

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9 Responses to This Delightful Habit of Journalising

  1. Rebecca says:

    If I could, I would follow up to your comment about Viktoria’s journaling habits with another quote from dear Jane: “Pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have journaled for years and years and I write when I feel like if I didn’t write, I would have to scream at someone. It is astonishing what resolution I can bring to my frustrations simply by writing about them!

    Love the Northanger Abbey quote! Oh, yes! Tilney is always right, isn’t he? And for some reason, I don’t begrudge him that.

  2. Viktoria says:

    Haha, Rebecca, I love that quote!! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Unfotunately I stopped keeping a journal about the same time that my lil’ sis’ Aurora started… So it would seem that only one of us can keep a journal going at one time… ๐Ÿ˜€
    Oooh, and I dooooo love Mr Tilney!!! So charming, so funny and so kind… ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Aurora says:

    That is a great quote Rebecca!
    I know what you mean, sometimes writing is such a good way to release frustration. It can be such a help to me at times just to write down thoughts and feelings, to get it out of my head, and get clearer about things.

    Tilney is truly fantastic! And as you say, he is always right. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And no, we don’t begrudge him that at all!

    I wasn’t aware that you had stopped all together Viktoria. Huh, that’s interesting. I think you should take it up again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Peg Kerr says:

    You may be quite interested in the Livejournal community Embodiment, where people post pictures of and discuss their journals. It was only since I’ve started following that community that I realized that many people use quite a bit of visual input to their journals. I’d always simply written my entries. See the community here:

    I started keeping a jouranal when I was 10, sporadically, stopped, then started again when I was 14 and I’ve kept it up since then, and I’m about to turn 50. Keeping a journal probably had a lot to do with me becoming a writer (I’ve had two books published). My entries are starting to get more sporadic again. After years and years of faithfully filling out a page EVERY SINGLE DAY I now have periods where I might skip a week or two.

  5. Francine says:

    Dear Aurora,

    I’m keeping a journal. The one that I now writing is my fourth.
    I’m not writing every day. Because some days are verry borring ๐Ÿ˜‰
    My journal is verry special because I’m writing to my grandmother. She died five years ago and I miss here verry much. This way she is always with me.
    My journal is full of tickets, photos and so on. I hope I’ll write for a long time.


  6. Aurora says:

    I don’t think I’ve heard of Livejournal before. That sounds interesting! I’ll have to have a look at it. Thanks for telling me about it!

    I’m impressed with your journal writing! Good job keeping it up! I can well imagine that keeping a journal has to do with you becoming a writer. It must have been good practice.

    Francine, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother! The way you write to her in your journal is beautiful. It must be very special to you, and I am glad to hear that it helps you keep her always with you. I am sure she is happy about it too!

    I had a journal I wrote when we were on our six months trip around the world, and in that one I also put in tickets and things like that too. It’s fun to look at them now. But I don’t put any in the journal I write at present, but I’m considering whether maybe I shall now… We’ll see.

    It’s so fun to hear that many others out there write journals too!

  7. Alyssa W. says:

    I love the quote from Northanger Abbey! I too love to read old journals and find out what and how people thought years ago.

    I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was 10 years old. (I am on my 34 joural now!) I used to write everyday about almost everything I did (which resulted in my getting to bed rather late…). Now I just write whenever I feel like it or when I want to be sure to remember an event or conversation. I also add in extra things like Francine said she does.

    I’m so glad you’ve started journaling! Someday your grandchildren will read them and get to know you even better! ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. Gillian says:

    I journal, but certainly not every day. When I first began, I was 14 or 15, I think – reading back the old entries they seem so immature! I wrote more then, I think, but it was more just the everyday, mundane things. Now, I write sometimes daily, sometimes weekly… I went more than a year, between my first and second years of college, without writing a thing. And I journal more about the important things, or problems weighing on my mind, now; important conversations or events of impact.

    (I’ve been reading your blog for a while, now, by the way, but only just stopped “lurking”!)

  9. Aurora says:

    34 journals?! Wow Alyssa! That’s impressive!
    It’s true I suppose what you said, some day my grandchildren (!) will know me better if they read my journals. At the moment though, I couldn’t imagine anyone reading them! I wouldn’t like them to…

    Hello Gillian, I am so glad you decided to comment! It is always so fun to hear that people are reading my blog, even if they’ve never commented before!

    I know exactly what you mean about seeming immature in the earlier entries. Even though I haven’t journaled for that long, I find that to be the case too!

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