“There are certain emotions that not even your best friends can sympathize with, but you will find the right film or the right book, and it will understand you.” ~ Bjork
When a close friend of mine moved unexpectedly to a new city, leaving behind a life she’d spent four years building, she held onto the quote “Life is a journey and the journey is home” like a lifeline.
Bit by bit, she began to feel at home in her new city—while quoting that line more times than I can count.
Most of us have a quote (or a few quotes) that stick with us because they say exactly what we’re feeling, or offer us something to hold onto, or give us the courage or the comfort we need at a certain time in our life.
But what about all the other quotes, the things we hear or read but have forgotten the next day, despite how much they meant to us in that moment? How much is lost because of this?
Enter the quotes journal.
I started keeping a quotes journal when I had a song lyric stuck in my head; I decided, on a whim, to write it down in an empty notebook I had lying around. (Side note: this is a great case for why creatives should own at least one empty notebook at all times. You never know, right?)
Over the next few days, I found myself adding other lyrics I liked or quotes I stumbled on or remembered.
That was over two years ago. I’ve now filled almost four notebooks with song lyrics and quotes that resonate with me in one way or another. It’s a habit I intend to keep up until the end of my living days.
It’s so simple as to seem arbitrary, a quirky little self-indulgence—and yet, it’s become something I can’t imagine not doing, like washing my hair or drinking coffee in the morning.
I’d even argue that keeping a quotes journal has played a role in making me into the person I am today.
I see quotes journaling as a deep act of creativity, spirituality, and self-assurance. Here are just five reasons why I believe everyone should keep a quotes journal.
1. By physically re-writing a quote onto the page, we connect with the words more intimately, really taking in and assimilating their meaning. This gives them even more worth, and helps us to remember them better.
2. Even once we’ve forgotten about them, the things that we read can have an effect on us. When we gather these quotes into a book, we become more aware of the words that are shaping us.
3. In keeping a quotes journal, we reach into the world and cherry-pick the words of others that express something about ourselves. So, keeping a quotes journal is a form of self-expression, and every form of self-expression is a path to knowing ourselves more deeply. My quotes journal carries a piece of my soul—of my identity. It is a testament to who I am and who I have been.
4. In a similar way to traditional journaling, keeping a quotes journal is incredibly cathartic and therapeutic. There is power in putting how you feel and what you think down on the page—and in quotes journaling, the fact that these are not our own words, but the words of others, lends a certain credibility. It says: I am not alone in how I feel, in what I fear, in what I believe, in how I experience this.
5. The creative life isn’t all long days spent cooped up painting in a studio or embarking on art history tours of Europe. Between these grand gestures, we need to engage in small acts of creativity that sustain us, like baking breakfast muffins, tidying our rooms, or visiting a new coffee shop. Curating a quotes journal, slowly and decisively across a length of time, is an art form in and of itself.
6. As a child growing up in a religious family, I memorized a lot of Bible verses, and quotes journaling is not dissimilar. A quotes journal—both the words preserved within its pages and the act of keeping it—validates us, comforts us, encourages us, and helps us grow. In a way, a quotes journal is almost like a curated personal bible. I’m always amazed how the right quotes seem to find me just when I most need them, and I often return to my quotes journal when I’m feeling lost or down to reconnect with and learn from the wisdom preserved there.
Author: Aimee-Claire Smith
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Travis May