I have a busy, complicated life. I'm an engineer, but I'm also an artist (painting, photography), I like to travel - mostly solo, which requires extensive planning, I have several serious health problems; I'm a homeowner, and a widower who recently started dating several women. I also like to write and I've had some nonfiction articles published and even a few poems published in obscure literary journals.

I've kept a personal journal for a long time, but because I have separate journals and logbooks for artistic, engineering, household, travel, and medical progress, I don't feel my personal journal really captures the sheer complexity, color, richness and difficulties of my life.

So I'm starting a new document with daily entries that will have elements of a personal journal, along with projects, medical procedures and status, travel research, artistic ideas, lists, and records of all kinds. Some of it will link to other documents but I WANT it to have a cluttered, eclectic quality that reflects how my life really is. It will be mostly text, but also images, video, and sound.

I was thinking about this when I saw this question: What's the difference between "diary" and "journal"?

... what is the right name for this? It's not a logbook, exactly, although it will have many elements of a logbook. I think of it as a cross between a diary and a logbook and a design notebook.

Is there a good word for this?

  • 3
    I'd go with journal. It's cool. Log is fine, too. – NVZ Aug 13 '16 at 4:09

I think the term "commonplace book" suits your need.


Although the above entry stresses that commonplace books are not diaries, it is evident that your effort is much more than a diary, and it fits the description very well, aside from the chronological aspect. The distinction of concern here seems to entail the method of organization: journals or diaries organize by time and date, commonplace books organize by subject or theme (or eschew organization for benign chaos).

Google search results tell me that modern uses of the term "commonplace" include appending the word "journal" to the term (and the term's application to computerized formats e.g. Evernote). Your work's eclecticism and format robustly justify the use of the "commonplace" term, as well as the liberty you can take with nomenclature and organization (including utilizing chronological entries), and I would not consider your use to be an abuse of language, but to instead be a spurt of language growth.

| improve this answer | |
  • "commonplace book" is too generic - there's nothing about it that suggests it's a record of events or that it's chronological. – user316117 Aug 14 '16 at 13:11

I suggest prefixing the term notes with an adjective suggesting the nature of the contents.


adjective notes

Some suggestions for the adjective: (All from oxforddictionaries.com):


3.1 Put together as a temporary measure; makeshift:he had one arm in a rough sling

3.3 Not fully worked out or including every detail: he had a rough draft of his new novel

3.4 (Of stationery) used for making preliminary notes: rough paper

eclectic (yes, from your question itself): ADJECTIVE

1 Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources: universities offering an eclectic mix of courses

miscellaneous  ADJECTIVE

1 (Of items or people gathered or considered together) of various types or from different sources: he picked up the miscellaneous papers in his in tray


Of various sorts put together;miscellaneous: bowls in assorted colours

Definition of note from oxforddictionaries.com:

note  NOUN

1 A brief record of points or ideas written down as an aid to memory: I’ll make a note in my diary; lecture notes

More example sentences:

I was taking notes during the brief but my pen went dry midway through.

University is not just about sitting in lectures and taking notes, then going over to the library to do essays.

Yes, just taking notes can trigger your memory and revive all those important points.

| improve this answer | |
  • The problem with adjective notes is what to put for adjective. It's everything in my my eclectic life. Also, 'notes' doesn't imply that it's chronological. Anyway I've chosen a suggestion made by a writer here in the Boston (Ma, USA) area where I live. I didn't ask her permission to use her name, otherwise I would credit it, but she suggested "chronicle", which I like, so that's my choice. – user316117 Aug 14 '16 at 13:15
  • @user316117, I did mention my suggestions for the adjective in my answer. Anyway, I know the discussion is just academic now that you have your preferred answer. Good luck with chronicling! – alwayslearning Aug 14 '16 at 13:21

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.