I’ve always been a big fan of writing, journaling, note-taking, etc. But, I’ve found it hard over the years to keep up with a diary or a bullet journal. There’s too much discipline required from something like that. While I enjoy having time blocked out in my day to write in my notebooks, I find it hard to keep up with sometimes. And since, like most people, I have a fairly busy schedule, days will go by without any writing, note-taking, documenting of my day or planning of my week.

But, I love to write. And sometimes, it’s less about churning out creativity, and more about jotting down thoughts I’ve had or beautiful quotes and stirring song lyrics. Or, to put it another way, the thoughts don’t have to be my own–I just want to revel in the physical process of writing.

That’s where the commonplace book comes in. The idea is to use one notebook as a catch-all for the wisdom you hear on a daily basis. Read a beautiful quote? Jot it down. Did someone say something particularly witty? Into the notebook! And it doesn’t just have to be quotes, either. You can also include pictures, stickers, and other embellishments. The point is that it’s not a journal, it’s not a planner, it’s a snapshot of what touched your heart and caught your attention.

My commonplace book has rows of quotes. And sometimes, if I find a quote that was especially beautiful or a bit long, I’ll highlight it by giving it its own page. I like to add backgrounds (either with colored paper or pen and marker) and really make it shine. I don’t date the pages, but I do include my start date at the start of the notebook and my finish date at the end, so that when I look through this later, I’ll have an idea of where I was in life and when these quotes inspired me.

Not sure where to start? Why not pick up a book of quotes?

Garner’s Quotations: A Modern Miscellany

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations

Distilled Genius: A Collection of Life-Changing Quotations

And of course, you can add your own quotes, too! Find passages from your favorite books, song lyrics that speak to you, observations throughout your day, funny things your friends said, words of wisdom from your grandparents, etc. Write them all down, and look back on them later. When you need inspiration or just a pick-me-up, having a list of quotes to play with and ponder over is a great place to start!


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.