The Making of a Commonplace Book
I’m putting a pin in the travel content (don’t worry, I have another Los Angeles City Guide coming your way next Thursday) for a moment, because I wanted to share with you something that I’ve been working on, mostly at night, with a cup of tea and a good playlist.
I’ve been working on a commonplace book.
All of this started a couple of weeks ago when, for whatever reason, I couldn’t fall asleep. I puttered over to the couch and opened up YouTube to watch something mindless. Instead I came across Jordan Clark’s video sharing her commonplace book and the kinds of things she chooses to write down and come back to.
A commonplace book (the term dates back to the 1570’s) is a book in which noteworthy quotations, comments, etc, are written.
I think the reason why this resonated with me so deeply is because I used to have a variation of this book all through high school and college. It kept my favourite quotes, photos I’d save and print off from Tumblr, song lyrics and some angsty thoughts I was working through at the time. In short, it was a keepsake of that time in my life. Sometimes when I’m lacking inspiration, I go back and thumb through those books, and while I can’t help but cringe at how overly emotional I used to be, I come across quotes from books I forgot that I read and loved. I come across songs I forgot I once listened to. I’m immediately brought back to a simpler time and I become nostalgic over teenage friendships and first loves. I’m reminded of what my room used to look like or what the air smelled like when I documented those thoughts.
A commonplace book is a time capsule for your deepest thoughts, emotions and desires. For those late night conversations with your friends that you’ll want to remember years from now. For that sentence in that Sunday New York Times article that really got you thinking. For that song you listened to when you sat in a patch of sunshine on your kitchen floor with a cup of coffee, smiling to yourself, because life just feels so complete. It’s a place to jot things down.
The next day after watching Jordan’s video, I rummaged through my stationary inventory and pulled out a brown unlined notebook and some ephemera. I rummaged through my box of old photographs passed down from my grandmother and chose favourite photos of my family. A quick trip to Michaels equipped me with index cards, stickers, brown labels, old book pages and some bits and bobs to adorn the notebook and the pages with.
I’ve been writing in it every since, bringing it with me everywhere I go, in case I have a thought worth documenting. It’s something I especially love working on at night, the city lights a perfect backdrop, the notebook a gentle reminder to slow down, prioritize creativity and not grow up quite so quickly.
If you’re also inspired to create a commonplace book of your own, here’s what you’ll need:
An unlined notebook, preferably with a simple cover, so your creativity can stand out
Newspaper or pages from an old book
Ephemera (pins, ticket stubs, stamps, coins, buttons etc)
Stickers of your choosing (I went with a floral / wilderness theme). Jordan actually has an online store where shesells thoughtfully designed stickers that you can print out and use! I especially love her wildflower collection.
Old photographs or memories you’ll want to keep close
Pen, scissors + glue
Anything, really! Anything that moves you.
If you end up creating a commonplace book, snap a photo and tag me and Jordan in it on Instagram. I would love to see your creativity and personality shine!
Until next time,