Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are essentially handwritten scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas, etc.
These commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts, or facts they had learned and each book would be unique to its owners particular interests. They became significant in early modern Europe.
Per Wiki, commonplace books are not diaries nor travelogues, with which they can be contrasted: English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke wrote the 1706 book A New Method of Making a Common Place Book, “in which techniques for entering proverbs, quotations, ideas, speeches were formulated. Locke gave specific advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using such key topics as love, politics, or religion. Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective.” – Nicholas A. Basbanes in “Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World”
And in the words of Jonathan Swift: “A common-place book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories;” and whereas, on the other hand, poets being liars by profession, ought to have good memories. To reconcile these, a book of this sort is in the nature of a supplemental memory; or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own by entering them there. For take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his.” —from “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”
Would you like to read more about commonplace books? Try these links:
How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book” at ThoughtCatalog
Commonplace Books at Harvard University Library
Scribbling With Style on OZY
Yellow Rhodia Paper at Pencil Revolution
A Minimal Pen with a Twist at Fubiz
A Celebration of The Stop Doing List at Danielle Laporte
Pilot Ageless Future Gel Ink Pen Review at The Pen Addict
Rhodia Mouse Pad Note Pad at Office Supply Geek
Can the Right Tools Help You Write Better? at Writing Forward
Stanley Kubrick’s Annotated Copy of Stephen King’s The Shining at Open Culture
Journaling lessons learned at Plannerisms
Hero Has Cloned The Lamy Safari at Pentorium
7 Inspiring Quotes About Writing at LifeHack
Shaw Pens – The Bessemer Ballpoint at No Pen Intended
2014 – the year of very many books about Urban Sketching? at Making a Mark
Writing and the Creative Life: 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently at The Creativity Post
Gorgeous images of the new Pilot Metallic VP at Ink Nouveau
22 Manly Ways to Reuse an Altoids Tin at The Art of Manliness
Art Journals at Quo Vadis Blog
Ink Review: J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen at The Well-Appointed Desk
Guide to Choosing a Highlighter Pen at JetPens
Wolff’s Royal Sovereign pencil samples in a tin at Palimpest
iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap Spring 2014 at iHanna
Start Shipping! Enjoy Free Shipping on Orders $45+ at European Paper
Image courtesy of marcieello on Instagram
Therapy can be costly, and our friends aren’t always available or capable of holding space for us- while our notebooks and journals stand ever ready to serve. I first started journaling in 2005 and can now look back and see how valuable writing was to my growth process.
In the book “The Artists Way“, author Julia Cameron describes a practice she calls “Morning Pages” in which you regularly dump the junk out of your mind and into your journal – effectively freeing up space for clearer thinking.
In “Dark Side of the Light Chasers” Debbie Ford says, “Journaling is a good tool to help process your emotions. It encourages whatever comes into your mind to flow out onto the paper. It allows the emotional toxicity in our bodies and minds to express itself freely. Once we can grant this toxicity being and allow it to exist without judgment it will be released.”
I wrote with great consistency from 2008-2011, yet very little in 2012. Things picked up in 2013 but not as much as I would like. Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about writing and am ready to once again make regular time for it.
Do you have a regular writing habit? Do you make time to “dump the junk?” Is this a process that has proved valuable for you?
Image courtesy of sookyung on Instagram
Have you read Wild by Cheryl Strayed? I just finished it last night – literally only a few days after I’d started it because I couldn’t put it down. The book is Cheryl’s story of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail – a 2650 mile trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. It found it riveting because of all the completely amazing things she did wrong which could have gotten her killed over, and over, and over again as she chose to tackle this monumental journey with close to zero experience. She also did it alone.
During and after my read of Wild, I started wondering how she was able to recall such detail about her experiences on the trail. She passingly mentioned having a sketchbook in her backpack but never mentioned writing in it. A quick visit to the FAQ on her website explains:
“I kept a particularly detailed one (journal) on my PCT hike, which I noted passingly in WILD. My journal was enormously helpful to me as I wrote the book, often providing me with details I’d have forgotten. I also researched facts and consulted others about their recollection and interpretation of some of the events I wrote about in WILD, but, like any memoir, WILD is based primarily on memory. I re-conjured moments, conversations, feelings, landscapes, and the people I met as I remembered them from my own point of view.”
I think about the dedication it must have took to detail her trip. Through the sweltering heat, the bitter cold, while hungry, exhausted and in pain, she still managed to write about it.
The Clairefontaine 1951 collection has been expanded! Options now include:
- Staplebound Notebooks in 3.5 x 5.5″ and 5.75 x 8.25″ 48 sheets, lined, in two sizes and seven colors
- Clothbound 5.75 x 8.25″ Notebooks: 96 sheets, lined, available in 6 different colors
- Top Wirebound (Reporter Style) Notepads: 3 x 5.25″ 64 sheets, lined, available in 7 colors.
- SquareBack Notebooks 3.5 x 5.25″ 64 sheets, lined, available in 7 colors.
All of the Clairefontaine “1951″ Collection include the Authentic Heritage design and contain the following:
- 90 g pH neutral, acid-free and fountain pen friendly paper
- Smooth satin finish, white paper
- Grained paper cover with front label
- Vintage look and feel
Rhodia Drive experienced a few hiccups over the last 2 days and when the blog was restored, this post disappeared along with a few of your comments. I think we may have also lost a few comments from Friday’s post about Herbin Anniversary inks. Since we greatly value your feedback, if you don’t see a comment that you know you submitted on either of these two posts, we’d be grateful if you’d be willing to take the time to resubmit your thoughts.
For the last several years I’ve made it a point to always finish a notebook by the year’s end and move into a new book in the new year but I didn’t do it this year. With my birthday being the very last day of the calendar year, I’ve often found myself running around during the end of December, “I’ve got to do this by the end of the year, I’ve got to do that by the end of the year…” As if the significance of these actions would make a real difference when performed with such specific intention. (Letting go)
Truth be told, I found that I did not like using the 2013 book in 2014. It just felt, wrong. Like I was living in the past, or that I didn’t want to let go of the events that happened during that year. Thankfully, I’ve since finished it and moved into a new book .
As you finish a notebook and move from one to the next, is there anything special you do to mark the occasion? Such as:
- Writing a defining end passage on the last page
- Writing a list of specific accomplishments during the time the notebook was in use
- Putting your name and the date inside the cover of the new book
- Adding a favorite quote to the inside front cover
- Copying your bucket list from one book to the next
- Moving a favorite bookmark, photo, or papers from one book to the next
If you haven’t had the chance to see all of the great new products in the 2014 Exaclair USA catalog, allow me to introduce one of my favorites: Large Rhodiarama Webbies! the NEW 5 x 8.25″ version will be available this spring/summer in the same 15 colors as the 3.5 x 5.5″ notebook. (Yaaaay for Purple!)
Haven’t tried a Rhodiarama Webbie yet? Here’s the specs:
- 96 sheets, lined or blank of 90g acid-free, pH neutral fountain pen friendly ivory paper
- Italian leatherette cover with the embossed Rhodia logo
- Inner pocket
- Orange elastic closure and orange ribbon bookmark
- Rounded corners
Which color is your favorite?
“November 20th 1874: Dark day snowed about three inches left Murhpys shanty with Butter, Welsh & Murphy. Went to Pages Depot Bought one adze from Monshan for 50c Butter Bought for Rathbun & Son Iron, Coal, Lamps, ox chains &c, &c. Left Depot about 11 a.m. Rode with Mule team William Diamond teamster about half way to Genarouxs walked from there to Mellons and had dinner. Left about 4 p.m. for Genarouxs Met Wm McMahan at forks[?] with 58 Head Cattle bought by O’Brien. Slept at Genarouxs Shanty all night. Butter slept at James Mellons. Walked today eight miles.”
This photograph, (courtesy of Desoronto Archives on Flickr) is of the pages of an account book and diary kept by Denis Nealon and covers the period between 20 November and 28 December 1874, when Nealon was working as an accountant for Rathbun and Son. He travelled between the various shanties (lumber camps) run by the Rathbun companies, compiling their accounts and noting the weight of cattle and other goods used by the men at the camps.
You can see all of the images from this diary in this set on Flickr.
Any thoughts on the pencil used to write this entry?
Have a safe and Happy New Year everyone!
Many thanks for all of your feedback, comments and suggestions throughout the year.
The Creative Experiments Challenge at daisy yellow blog
How to Improve Your Writing Skills at Writing Forward
365 Quotes to Inspire You in 2014 at Inc.com
Wattpad at Quo Vadis Blog
Last Minute Art Journaling Thoughts at iHanna’s Blog
Our 2013 Doodle, Draw and Illustration Year in Review at Doodlers Anonymous
Fountain Pen Experts And Their Favorite Pens at An Inkophile’s Blog
Link Love: Top 10 List Roundup at The Well-Appointed Desk
Nearly never without a Rhodia at Pentamento
How to Buy A Pen That Will Last Forever at Pentorium
Top 10 of 2013 at A Penchant for Paper
Annual 2013 Top Ten List of Popular Reviews at Office Supply Geek
Rhodia Wirebound Business Notebook Review at Write to Me Often
Back to Journaling Basics at Writing Through Life
30 Ideas For Your 2014 Bucket List at Abundance Blog
Overcoming Writer’s Block at The Passive Voice
Review- Four J Herbin Fountain Pen Inks at Life Imitates Doodles
Seeing the Big Picture: When Paper is Better Than Digital at A Penchant for Paper
Faber Castell Albrecht Durer/Caran D’Ache Supracolor/Caran D’Ache Museum Aquarelle Comparison chart at Lung Sketching Scrolls
Pencil Paraphernalia and a Pretty Pencil Pin Pendant at Bleistift
Prophetic Name For a Stationery Store: “Horder’s” at Contrapuntalism
More Pencil Sculptures at Pencil Revolution
Make Your Own Leather Notebook Cover at Notebook Stories
Journaling Exercise: Your Journaling Habit at Kaizen Journaling
Ink Sample Scribbles at Gourmet Pens
Breathing new life into an old bullet pencil at Woodclinched
Image above courtesy of panpan904 on Instagram
You can now take a look at the NEW 2014 Exaclair catalog and see all of the goodies coming in the new year – like the large Rhodiarama Webbbies, Landscape Webbies, Mignon Refillable Leather Journals, new colors for the Habana, Graf-It dot pads…
Which products are you most excited about? (You must KNOW that I’m excited for the large purple Webbies!)
Our friend Sandra Strait from the blog “Life Imitates Doodles” recently performed an in-depth review on the Exacompta Basics Forum Journal with a Nostalgie Cover. The review includes an emphasis on how the paper responds both to writing implements and various art materials. You can find the full review here.
Do you keep a log to record your physical activities? How many miles you ran or biked, hours spent working out at the gym, new yoga poses learned… How does this help you? Does seeing it on paper keep you motivated?
Keep an Exercise Log to Record Your Daily Activity at Dummies.com
Why You Should Keep a Workout Journal at WeightWatchers.com
How to keep an Exercise Diary at Weightloss.com.au
I spent a few hours yesterday at an ephemera show. If you’ve never heard of such a thing, it’s basically vintage book and paper items. Loads and loads of postcards, vintage advertisements, ancient handwritten letters, worthless stock certificates… you name it.
I hadn’t been to this show in at least a dozen years and didn’t really go looking for anything in particular except maybe for items that might either inspire my art or things that I could potentially use to make art with.
The first thing that really caught my eye was a booth filled with advertising posters of Hollywood-style glamorous women. From that vendor I ended up selecting a Coles Phillips illustration from a 1911 Life Magazine cover that depicted a stylish woman holding a fountain pen and appearing to have writer’s block. Continue Readering »
In celebration of my 4th anniversary writing for Rhodia Drive, I’ve got 20 assorted Rhodiaramas to give away!
What are the Rhodiarama Webbies? A 3 1/2 x 5 1/2″ notebook somewhere between orange and black…
- 96 sheets of 90 g ivory paper, acid-free, pH neutral, lined or blank
- Italian leatherette w/ signature orange elastic closure
- Embossed Rhodia logo
- Inner pocket, printed full color flyleaves
- Round corners and an orange ribbon marker
The contest will be remain open until midnight EST on Tuesday 10/08/13. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on the blog on Thursday 10/10. One entry per household please. If you are viewing this post via e-mail or on a mobile device, you may need to visit Rhodia Drive directly to see the entry form. As the color/ruling options are limited to the 20 Rhodiaramas currently on hand, we will make every effort to offer your preferred selection - though no guarantees.
Help us to get the word out? Please feel free to Tweet, blog or share this post via Facebook.
(Scroll down for entry form)
Image courtesy of keiim on Instagram
I drive a black car – my 4th black car in a row. When offered a choice, I really want to drive a black car.
When selecting items of practical (or impractical) use, how important is it to you to have them be a certain color? Does it in someway make the item more pleasurable to use?