I am greatly intimidated by a blank journal. On one hand, I love them and all their potential but on the other, I hate the thought of filling one up with anything less than perfectly painted watercolor flowers and calligraphy.
Which is why I didn’t think my dollar store notebook filled with scribbles from my favorite books was much to brag about when I shared it on Instagram.
But, the idea really struck a chord with several of my followers, one who mentioned I’d created a commonplace book without realizing it. In actuality, I have a rather disjointed collection of tablets, planner margin notes, Evernote entries and book page snapshots versus a true commonplace book. However, I still love the idea of one volume where everything is lovingly contained in the best handwriting with watercolor illustrations. I would also love to be able to inspire my children to keep journals but thus far all I can do is contain their random ephemera in boxes and folders and the occasional three ring binder.
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 Common-Place-Books, “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.”  By the early eighteenth century they had become an information management device in which a note-taker stored quotations, observations and definitions. They were even used by influential scientists. Carl Linnaeus, for instance, used commonplacing techniques to invent and arrange the nomenclature of his Systema Naturae (which is the basis for the system used by scientists today) -Wikipedia