Tag Archives: Thoreau

Having eaten our supper of hot cocoa and bread and watermelon, we soon grew weary of conversing, and writing in our journals, and putting out the lantern which hung from the tent pole, fell asleep. 

Ultimately, many things have been omitted which should have been recorded in our journal; for though we made it a rule to set down all our experiences therein, yet such a resolution is very hard to keep, for the important experience rarely allows us to remember such obligations, and so indifferent things get recorded, while that is frequently neglected. 

It is not easy to write in a journal what interests us at any time, because to write it is not what interests us.

‑‑Thoreau  A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers  






“…many things have been omitted which should have been recorded. . . .  It is not easy to write in a journal what interests us at any time, because to write it is not what interests us.” –Henry David Thoreau

Still?  Haven’t started yet?  For an introduction, or a refresher, see

composition book 1No expensive blank-page, hardcover or leatherette book: use notebook paper, a speckled notebook, or some similar writing book.  (Avoid notebooks wire-bound that flatten or break or can scratch or poke.)  

Keeping it regularly?  Faithfully?  A few times a week?

Stuffed with “stuff,” like receipts, greeting cards, pictures, favorite essays from magazines, emails from friends?  or also filled with dreams and bads and goods?

Are you conversant with your soul?  Do you confer with those who have crossed over to the Other Side?

Can you/do you capture life as you see it, the now, the past, the present?  (You are not stuck in the past, are you?)

Do you connect the few facts you know, the slim insights you have attained, the “chance extensions of sensibility into which you have been once or twice tempted into a larger enough context to make sense of the world…or the works of art you encounter”?–[Leslie Fiedler]

Chronological order: date, day, time.  A good record (for reference, a place in time).

Not boring details.  But details.  What is that saying about details?  “The idiom “the devil is in the detail” refers to a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details, and derives from the earlier phrase ‘God is in the detail,’ expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important.”  — [Wikipedia–and other sources]

No day is bereft of material to write about…about which to write.  See, hear, touch, taste, and smell.  Then understand, react.  Then WRITE.

Note the particulars that make you your journal, your journal you.

Need more than this?  Need a book for starters?  “If you want to change your life and know that you have the answers within, then learning to journal as a tool for rediscovering what you already knew, is the best way I know how. This book stands alone; and if you want to have a master teacher guide you into the depths of your soul, get this book and the companion workbook.”  [Marcia C. Bliss comment in 2013]:  Journaling for Joy: Writing Your Way to Personal Growth and Freedom by Joyce Chapman, 1991, 2013.

journaling for joy




“…many things have been omitted which should have been recorded. . . . It is not easy to write in a journal what interests us at any time, because to write it is not what interests us.”   –Henry David Thoreau

thoreauHenry David Thoreau

Through the writings of Thoreau–Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers–a person interested in journaling can begin to make connections between writing, self, and life. Thoreau is the teacher.

walden pondA journal can help its writer make such connections, make her or him feel alive, discern life; journal writing can bring insight, can shape human identity, and give life meaning.

The journal will become a place to make progress in prose style, a method of/a place for self-understanding and self-revelation.

The journal-keeper will be able to make connections with the past and the present–and have a special vision: to see and to realize the value in making those connections–and writing about them.

week on the concordNOTE: A diary is a fact book: I saw a rainbow. A journal is a fact book with feeling–or with feelings about the facts: I saw a magnificent rainbow and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the colors of a prism. Simple, no?

composition book 1The Speckled Notebook for Journal Entries

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