Friday, May 22, 2015

Keeping a journal helps writing

"My dear madam, I am not so ignorant of young ladies' ways as you wish to believe me; it is this delightful habit of journaling which largely contributes to form the easy style of writing for which ladies are so generally celebrated. Everybody allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female. Nature may have done something, but I am sure it must be essentially assisted by the practice of keeping a journal." 
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, ch. 3 (Mr. Tilney speaking)

Austen's use of the word “journaling” in Northanger Abbey astonished me when I saw it: I had thought that using “journal” as a verb was a recent development. When my editor checked the quotation [I used it in a Law Library Journal column], though, she found editions in Google Books that used “journalizing” or “journalising,” so Austen might not have said “journaling” after all. (The OED does have an instance of someone else using “journaling” in 1803, so I can still remark on its being such an old usage.) And the point remains: writing in a journal develops your ease in writing.

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