A Good Example of How to Write in Your Journal – A Book Review


The quote that got me.

“On my doorstep this morning: a tea cup and saucer, with a note from my upstairs neighbor: I know you like old china.”

Because I prefer to check the inner pages of a book before I decide if it will make it home with me the second thing I saw about the book titled, When Wanderers Cease to Roam A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put, was the above quote.

This was going to be good stuff.

Man oh man. I knew this was going to be a book which would tug at me and capture my interest on many levels. Besides the quote and the cover the next thing I noticed about this book by Vivian Swift was page after page of beautiful water color paintings and line drawings which made my nose twitch with the desire to draw up the aroma.

OK, so I did smell the pages. Perhaps it wasn’t the beautiful gardens and landscapes along with clothing, cats, shoes, store fronts and so on depicted throughout the book which I detected, but I love the smell of books too. So, hey, this book smells lovely. Now, lest you’re tempted to smirk, check this out.

Well, did you check the link?

Never mind, let’s keep going.

The first quote (you know, the quote way up there at the top of this article) was written on March 3. Then on the same page another entry from March 21 caught my attention, “Slammed shut the windows today – it’s freezing again.” That was the entire entry for the day.

One sentence.

One sentence not only captured the weather and the writer’s mood, but also the essence of succinct journal writing.

Now, it was time for me to do a bit more exploring.

On the copyright page I discovered the first edition was in 2008 and that the entire book had been hand lettered by the author.

  • At page three I encountered January.
  • After flipping to the back I had my confirmation. Yes, the book concludes in December. Ah, wonderful. A full year of Swift’s journal entries were mine for the taking.
  • Near the center – An African Memoir in Four Minuscule Chapters.
  • In various places – Acre of Earth Stuff.
  • Throughout – captivating glimpses of Swift as she lives (as she describes it) on the Long Island Sound.

Who should read this book?

If you are new to journaling, if you are concerned that writing in a journal would take too much of your time, if you think your life is too boring to record, if you think no one would read what you wrote, may I suggest you read, When Wanderers Cease to Roam A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put. Also, if you just like to read books which have creative sentences, tell an interesting true story and have way cool art then this book will appeal to you.

What you will find.

In the pages of this book you will find the ordinary, the unusual, the wild, the simple, the lovely, the joy of home and the “wild longing to run away [and] change your name.” Swift has given you a wondrous read as well as an excellent example of elegant yet simple journal writing. An alluring example of memoir done well.

If you would like to find out more about the book and the author here are a couple of places for you to check out. Vivian Swift Blog and Vivian Swift.

Have you read other memoirs which have helped you learn more about or be better at writing in your own journal? Please let us know in the comments section below.

As a lover of words, pens, paper and the dictionary I'm a natural for journal writing. But, I wasn't always faithful to the task and had to learn the hard way. Some trial and error as well as input from my journal writing friends helped move me along. I have a burning desire to help people who want to use and get the most out of their journals and diaries. I see journal writing as a self improvement tool and a way to avoid costly mistakes, bad relationships and my stinky-self. Finding my kindly self is part of the journey which keeps me writing. I Journalate and so can you.


  1. Thank you, Yvonne, for these nice words about my book! I’m 100 per cent with you on your mission to spread the love of journaling — and as you say, it’s something that can be accomplished in just a few minutes a day. Even as a diary of one small event after another, or a chronicle of the little pleasures of daily life, your hand written record of how you (the one and only YOU) made it through life is a treasure that is unique in all the world.

  2. Oh Vivian,

    Thank you! Your book is such a delight to read. Also, it is great to have you drop in here and add such thoughtful words concerning the building of journals or diaries. You can rest assured that your kindness will be added today to my chronicle of daily pleasures.


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