- Nov 2022
A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial, reason, that "great wits have short memories;" and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day's reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men, as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there. For, take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his. By these few and easy prescriptions, (with the help of a good genius) it is possible you may, in a short time, arrive at the accomplishments of a poet, and shine in that character.
"Nullum numen abest si sit prudentia, is unquestionably true, with regard to every thing except poetry; and I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, care, attention, and labour, make himself whatever he pleases, except a good poet." Chesterfield, Letter lxxxi.
Swift, Jonathan. The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift. Edited by Thomas Sheridan and John Nichols. Vol. 5. 19 vols. London: H. Baldwin and Son, 1801.
- card index as memory
- career advice
- Jonathan Swift
- writing advice
- supplemental memory
- commonplace books
- accounting influence on note taking
If you are like Lebron James or Paul Simon, if you were born with a gift for recall, you might not need a note-taking system.
I would suggest that this is wholly wrong as both of the memories described are honed for specific situations and not broadly applicable.
Even those with good natural memories as well as those with significant mnemonic practices can benefit from a structured note taking practice.
- Jun 2022
I also like the simplicity of a box. There’s a purpose here, and it has a lot to dowith efficiency. A writer with a good storage and retrieval system can write faster.He isn’t spending a lot of time looking things up, scouring his papers, and patrollingother rooms at home wondering where he left that perfect quote. It’s in the box.
A card index can be a massive boon to a writer as a well-indexed one, in particular, will save massive amounts of time which might otherwise be spent searching for quotes or ideas that they know they know, but can't easily recreate.
- May 2022
The minute we saw his frantic, hand-lettered presentation of the Field Notes credo — “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now” — we knew just what to do.
Field Notes, a manufacturer of notebooks, uses the credo "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now." This is an fun restatement of the idea behind the power of the Feynman technique.
Link to Ahrens' version of this idea.