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A Writer's Diary

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  3,918 ratings  ·  213 reviews
An invaluable guide to the art and mind of Virginia Woolf, drawn by her husband from the personal record she kept over a period of twenty-seven years. Included are entries that refer to her own writing, others that are clearly writing exercises; accounts of people and scenes relevant to the raw material of her work; and comments on books she was reading. Edited and with a ...more
Paperback, 355 pages
Published March 31st 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 1953)
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Deborah Markus This is a collection of excerpts from Woolf's diaries.

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Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Writing as a means of being
Shelves: read-in-2016
These diary entries brim over with life, with hunger, with a passion that cannot be contained, with the conflicted need to absorb it all; the lonely walks in the Sussex countryside, the visual and sonorous chaos of life in the city, of incessant travel, mental and otherwise, the unstoppable flow of time, the transience of things, the galloping rhythm of emotions, sensations and the simultaneity of memory, past and present in one’s conscience, the tedium of discussions and routine, the truth ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2015
Published by Leonard Woolf in 1953, A Writer's Diary compiles literary extracts from Virginia Woolf's full diary: the short collection's entries feature the writer's plans for her own books; her reactions to other writers' works; character sketches and other exercises; and philosophical musings about literature and society. Not a single part of the diary reads as superfluous or superficial. Even at her most informal, Virginia wrote thoughtful and brilliant prose, and Leonard included only the ...more
scritch scratch scritch scratch dash
scritch scratch scritch scratch semi-colon
scritch scratch scritch scratch inkblot
the trusty nib flounders a moment
then wades through the puddle of ink
and on to the end of the line
to the end of the page
to the end of that year’s diary
and though it flounders sometimes along the way
the trusty nib keeps on scratching through the diaries
until half-way though the last
it flounders finally

Now for The Longer Review - and apologies

Virginia Woolf

On January 1, 1953, Leonard Woolf completed his Preface to A Writer's Diary, a compilation of extracts from the 26 volumes of diaries that Virginia Woolf wrote from 1915 until 1941, with the last entry written just four days before her death. This book was published before the five-volume set of Woolf's diaries that is still in print today. Leonard Woolf makes it clear that, especially since so many of the people whom Woolf wrote about were still alive at the point, it was
I have to wonder at my timing on this one. Here I am, picking up one of the most perfect books for spurring the self on to writing during the merry month of NaNoWriMo, only to finish in the midst the most recent surge of action in the great Gramazon debacle; a debacle wholly embittered by the concept of self-published authors. Now, I'd like to go the traditional rout of publishing myself, but still. It gives both this review and my dream of writing for a living an air of antagonism, watch your ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it

A Writer's Diary, unlike Woolf's fiction–beautiful though, is an easy book to read. One can see what she has lived through from 1918 to 1941. The book is aptly titled; it is primarily about words, mind, books, artists, writing, and how these myriad things at once possess and liberate a sensitive soul like hers.'

There are a few things, among many other, that particularly make me stop and reflect to know her better. What one immediately recognizes in her work, even when her work is not really
Julie Christine
My copy of A Writer's Diary—I tried to post a photo, but Goodreads just couldn't deal with whatever it was I had to offer—has a forest of little tags poking out from the side. All the passages I've marked.

As a writer, I move between despair and joy on a daily basis. A good day of writing leaves me scoured clean and refilled with peace;

There is some ebb and flow of the tide of life which accounts for it; though what produces either ebb or flow I'm not sure.

but the stress of rejection and of
Stephen P
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: diary

A full review to come.

It has arrived. However most of the, Likes, below referred to a quote of Woolf's in an update status I entered. Then using the magic of my technical skills I lost. Sad. A period of web mourning, yet it appeared again in the review below.

What we have here is a reviewer who has been kidnapped. I’m sure it will be in tomorrow’s papers. But how to get out to write… the review? Is there anything here to use to be resourceful?

Only words.

More words.

They mount threatening to
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was glorious. I’ve underlined great things on nearly every page. If this is what Virginia Woolf could produce when sitting in bed and simply writing an expansive version of a ‘dear diary’, it tells us something about her genius (she calls it a dialogue of the soul with the soul). It is the best I’ve read by Woolf so far. It is more immediate, more intimate, more relatable than what I’ve read by her before. It is packed with thoughts and feelings and metaphors and meaning.

I’m slowly wading
Robledo Cabral
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Virginia Woolf is known to be one of the most prolific and diversified writers of the 20th century. Her cardinal importance, repeatedly attested by critics and reinforced by the immense popularity of some of her works, is mostly due to her tireless efforts at redefining the novel. Mrs. Woolf was a perpetual observer and a majestic philosopher, and into her production she channeled all her spiritual restlessness. How, she repeatedly wondered, can language be reinvigorated so as to become ...more
Ben Winch
Oct 08, 2015 added it
Recommended to Ben by: Fionnuala
Shelves: anglo, english
Woolf. I can’t say as I get her yet, but I’m trying, in fits and starts. A Writer’s Diary has sat by my bed for a good few months now, at times (during the sections on To the Lighthouse, The Waves, The Years) leaping into the foreground of my thoughts, but mostly providing a fallback when I wanted to snatch a quick paragraph or two of something that wouldn’t get its hooks in me. And no, at no point did it really get those hooks in, whether through discussion of craft (which I would have loved, ...more
this isn't exactly prying. leonard woolf presents a very distilled version of her mind. for the public, for her readers and fans, with a clear focus on anything literary, her criticisms, fears, disappointments, perpetual feelings of failure: all in relation to her writing.

but, as with all her autobiographical works, there is the impending date of doom at the end of March, 1941.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diary, literature
Surprisingly as tough and true as its subtitle implies, this paperback has indeed started as my long journey of reading it since 1994, the year I bought its paperback copy (HarperCollins, 1978) in which I browsed off and on once in a while with inadequate motive and left it (at p. 260) on the shelf till I came across this Harcourt edition with larger fonts early this month in the Booklovers Bookshop on Rambutri Lane, next to Khaosan Road, Banglampoo in Bangkok. Delighted to have a more handsome ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full of Virginia Woolf's typical incredible insights, also a really interesting look at the books she was both reading and writing, her process as a writer, and her reaction to the reactions her books received.
Lady Jane
Ah, Virginia. I feel that I know you, although I know that I do not.
I like reading about your struggles and realizing just how much you leave out (this book is excerpts from a much longer diary). I like that you are human, worried, fallible. I want to jump though the pages of time to reassure you that your writing, your reputation and your beautiful works of art will survive. I love you Virginia. How very presumptuous of me.
Jenny Maloney
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this! I highly recommend this book for writers...especially those who think that they might be struggling in vain. After all, Woolf is now listed as one of the greats and this book is packed with information on her process, her concerns, her self-doubts, and her triumphs. It's inspiring.

The reader does have to keep in mind that this is a diary, and therefore doesn't have a particular 'design'. The emotional ups and downs can be tiring (especially regarding her concern about
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
"I enjoy almost everything. Yet I have some restless searcher in me. Why is there not a discovery in life? Something one can lay hands on and say “This is it”? My depression is a harassed feeling. I’m looking: but that’s not it — that’s not it. What is it? And shall I die before I find it?”

What can I say to a person's diary which consist of something so raw and honest.
I only have read one of Virginia Woolf' writing which is Orlando, so I think when I finish reading all her collections of her
Aman Mittal
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
There are few writers who write their diaries in a fashion of self-talking. Just to clear one's mind from all the wandering thoughts. I think, that one of the sole purpose of keeping a diary. While reading A Writer's Diary, one has to keep in mind that diaries does not have a specific design by which they are written. It's diary, it can be tedious, and full of blissful thoughts at the same time. It can be an account of one's daily musings, or be a thoughts keeper from time to time. Virginia ...more
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I don't really know much about the relationship between Leonard and Virginia Woolf, but this book was lovingly edited. Excerpted from her unabridged diaries, Leonard Woolf culled the bits that he thought to be most about writing--the process, exercises, etc. These entries detail her exhaustive writing and revision process, as well as the relationship between her own reading and writing. She often sets herself schedules and tasks here, which were interesting to read. Reading this book has ...more
Nina Milton
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
My copy of Virginia Woolf’s A WRITER'S DIARY seems to be a first edition of 1953 from The Hogarth Press. It has that smell of an old book about it – a mix of tobacco, spores and midnight oil. The original owner of the book has written her name in on the first page in slanting black ink...Marjory Todd...and dated it 1/1/54,suggesting that this was a Christmas present. Dipping into it on occasion, as I do, reminds me of something Virginia wrote...What a vast fertility of pleasure books hold for ...more
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found this book interesting to read, yet this was maybe the hardest Woolf book I have read. This contains samples from Woolf's dairy selected by her husband after her death that dealt with her writing process. If you are looking for entries about her personal life you won't really find them here (maybe a few here and there).

Maybe the hardest part about reading this for me was at times you could tell she had mental illness. Some entries seemed to be all over the place. You would have to read
Jennie Rogers
“I live in intensity.”
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AN incredible book full of insight into Woolf's life, genius, writing and relationships.
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had forgotten just how meaningful it was to read Woolf’s diary entries that involved her writing and literature. Any writer, whether they have read her works or not, will find this book useful. I plan to read it at least yearly (as I do “Alice in Wonderland”). It gave me such courage, as the genius Woolf shared her insecurities and how she worked through her novels. I have most of her works and have read most many times. I felt the tug to read them from the beginning alongside her diaries (or ...more
Leah Rachel von Essen
A Writer’s Diary: Being Extracts From the Diary of Virginia Woolf edited by Leonard Woolf is one of those rare books that has actually changed my life. After her death, Virginia Woolf’s husband went through her diaries and extracted the parts that had to do with writing, process, and reading, compiling them into this volume, which is now published by Persephone Books.

If you are a fan of Virginia Woolf, this book further proves her genius: it reveals the interior thought processes and struggles
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are times when I think that Virginia Woolf was our most passionate, observant and shrewd writer and that is most in evidence, perhaps, in her diaries and letters. Here she is sharp, entertaining, thrilling, brilliant, sorrowful and inspiring, and yet, always, human.
She says this: “I get the strangest feeling now of our all being in the midst of some vast operation: of the splendor of this undertaking—life: of being capable of dying: an immensity surrounds me. No—I can’t get it—shall let
Sarah Yeung
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing, lovely, reading VW's impressions of books, writing, people is, as always, keenly sharp, flirtatiously experimental and tinged with that self-consciousness of a writer moving in and out of productivity and depressions, the triumph of new forms discovered, goals achieved, and the anxiety of disappointment and despair. Fascininating historically, really moving, personally.
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, favorites
I meant to read this in small pieces, in between reading other things. But instead: I got hooked. Her relentless pursuit of writing, the tension between the fire to create and drudgery of work, her intense concentration -- it fascinates me. I'm also in awe of how hard she works, writing fiction in the morning and using afternoons and evenings to write articles and reviews. Each book seems to take more from her: finishing "The Waves" took a huge toll of her, but it was nothing in comparison to ...more
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Of course I've read this before, and all of the unexpurgated volumes, many times. But this is special because it is newly available on Audible. It is pure magic having these well-known, much beloved passages floating around the aural sphere, accompanying you on walks, helping with folding laundry, rocking you to sleep at night. As always, I hear things that I hadn't noticed in visual readings. And I am left as well with a renewed sense of Leonard's skill in picking such a characteristic sample ...more
L Timmel
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread
I first read this in the 1980s, as a fairly new writer learning my craft and piling up mss of unpublished novels. Back then, the first part of this book spoke to me powerfully, even as, I now see, the later parts were largely over my head. How could I, back then, possibly have understood what she was feeling after having (self-)published the Years and Three Guineas? Most of her friends & closest colleagues simply didn't speak to her about these works--& this after having reaped so much ...more
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(Adeline) Virginia Woolf was an English novelist and essayist regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), and Orlando (1928), and the book-length
“I will not be "famous," "great." I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped. The thing is to free one's self: to let it find its dimensions, not be impeded.” 640 likes
“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.” 313 likes
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