Skip To Content

    18 Quotes From Famous Writers That Will Make You Want To Start Journaling

    “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    “Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” —Jack London, "Getting Into Print," The Editor


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "But what is more to the point is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. ... What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art." —Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Diary


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "I guess in my diary I’m not afraid to be boring. It’s not my job to entertain anyone in my diary." —David Sedaris


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today, when we may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition, and for that very reason have got to admit the courage of our earlier striving in which we persisted even in sheer ignorance." —Franz Kafka, The Diaries 1910-1923


    Jenny Chang / Aaron Burden / BuzzFeed

    "Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point. It is a difficult point to admit. We are brought up in the ethic that others, any others, all others, are

    by definition more interesting than ourselves; taught to be diffident, just this side of self-effacing. ... Only the very young and the very old may recount their dreams at breakfast, dwell upon self, interrupt with memories of beach picnics and favorite Liberty lawn dresses and the rainbow trout in a creek near Colorado Springs. The rest of us are expected, rightly, to affect absorption in other people's favorite dresses, other people's trout."

    "And so we do. But our notebooks give us away, for however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable 'I.'” —Joan Didion, "On Keeping a Notebook," Slouching Toward Bethlehem


    Jenny Chang/ Hope House Press / BuzzFeed

    "In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it." —Susan Sontag, Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963


    Jenny Chang / Luis Llerena / BuzzFeed

    "But what am I to do? I must have some drug, and reading isn’t a strong enough drug now.” —C.S. Lewis, writing about journaling after his wife died in A Grief Observed


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” —William Wordsworth


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "What a comfort is this journal. I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved." —Anne Lister, I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister, 1791-1840


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "Some may say [journal keeping] is a great deal of trouble. But we should not call anything trouble which brings to pass good. I consider that portion of my life which has been spent in keeping journals and writing history to have been very profitably spent. If there was no other motive in view [except] to have the privilege of reading over our journals and for our children to read, it would pay for the time spent in writing it." —Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Wilford Woodruff


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. ... Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss." —Joan Didion, "On Keeping a Notebook," Slouching Toward Bethlehem


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "I am anxious, and it soothes me to express myself here. It is like whispering to one's self and listening at the same time." —Mina Murray in her journal in Dracula, by Bram Stoker


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "As there are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.” —William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond


    "It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I — nor for that matter anyone else — will be interested in the unbosomings of a 13-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart." —Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things — childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves — that go on slipping, like sand, through our fingers.” —Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "If you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair." —Madeleine L'Engle


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "A diary is useful during conscious, intentional, and painful spiritual evolutions. ... An intimate diary is interesting especially when it records the awakening of ideas; or the awakening of the senses at puberty; or else when you feel yourself to be dying." —André Gide, Journals: 1889-1913


    Jenny Chang / Getty Images / BuzzFeed

    "I’ve been keeping a diary for 33 years and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just whining, but every so often there’ll be something I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote. It’s an invaluable aid when it comes to winning arguments. 'That’s not what you said on February 3, 1996,' I’ll say to someone." —David Sedaris