What I Talk about When I Talk About Running Journal

By Sean Sharp

I recently finished the book by Haruki Murakami titled, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which, for lack of a better descriptive phrase, is a meditation on distance running. It’s outlines how he came to be a distance runner, how that intersects with his life both as a writer and in terms of his daily routine. Murakami states, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.” As one who runs regularly this is something I can relate to a lot.

After completing this book I decided to create an analogue journal of my running, naming it after the title of Murakami’s book. There are a lot of digital tools to track one’s running, but I wanted to have some notes that I would write following the run (hopefully immediately afterwards) which would capture my thoughts on my distance, pace and anything I noticed, saw or felt while running. A simple reflective journal is what I wanted.

I use a Field Notes larger notebook from the Arts & Sciences edition (though one can use any notebook) and I keep it on my kitchen table where it waits for when I return from a run. Reading back through I can see where I’ve been, what part of my body felt off, what I saw, and anything else I wrote down.

I recommend both the book and a reflective journal for this type of activity. Even if you’re not a runner the book by Murakami has themes around the ideas of perseverance, boredom, an pushing through to which we can all relate.

Sean lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he works as an Educational Technologist for the School of Architecture at the University of Oregon. When not helping faculty and students with technology, he enjoys time with family, reading, writing, running, seeing friends, watching and playing baseball, & hiking. Sean can be found online @seansharp and at seansharp.org.

Guest Review: The OnTask

By Petey “Pete” Conklin

Look, I’ll be straight with you. I don’t like Kickstarter stuff. The whole deal kinda sucks. You see something cool and it looks like a deal and you think, “Hey, that’s cool!” But, then, half the time you don’t get the cool thing because it never gets made because what was a cool idea was too cool to actually make. Or you get it and then it’s junk because the cool idea was too cool to make well. Or, you order the thing based on the cool idea that seemed like a good deal and then you see a thousand Chinese knock-offs on Amazon at half the price before the thing you backed even ships because cool ideas are simple to copy. And, then, you try to cancel your thing and the Kickstarter folks are all, like, too busy playing with fidget cubes to give you the time of day. So, for the record, Kickstarter’s sucks.

That said, every once in a while a cool idea comes along that is cool enough to actually ship. That’s when I order it. The OnTask is one of those.

The idea is stupid simple. It’s a tiny whiteboard shaped like a triangular tube. You write your three “big rocks” or whatever else you want to remember for the day on it — one per side. It has a lid on one side that pops off so you can stick your dry erase marker or other pens inside. Or you can stand it on its side and use it as a pen cup. Oh, there’s also an eraser on that cap so you can wipe the thing off for re-use. It’s small enough to throw into a bag and be portable. It’s well made by folks that have been doing the indie business thing for a while. It’s a cool idea executed in a cool way.

Look, there’s two type of people in this world. Whiteboard people and everybody else. If you’re a whiteboard person like me, you’re probably are already on their site clicking the buy button. The rest of you, Godspeed!

Petey “Pete” Conklin is an almanac aficionado and reliable raconteur. His writing can be found various places around the way or the no-door stall in the restroom of his favorite bar in his hometown of Elsewhere, OK.

The Notebooks of Joan Didion

I just recently finished reading Joan Didion’s short new book, South and West. What’s interesting about this book is that it’s not really new at all; rather, it’s a series of selections from Didion’s personal notebook, written in 1970 while she was traveling through the American South with her husband, researching a piece that she didn’t end up writing (there’s also a short section, also from her notebook, about Didion’s thoughts on California during the 1976 Patty Hearst trial).

While the contents of the book have some excellent insights (most strikingly that the South has changed little in the last 40 years), what really struck me were the style and quality of Didion’s notes. Didion takes notes in such a way that many of them are more fully formed, more beautiful, than a lot of writers’ prose. In fact, much of what Didion observes in her notebooks is so detailed that, considering most of it was written at the end of the day or even days later, it simply can’t be accurate.

This isn’t a problem, though. It’s just Didion staying true to what she writes in her famous essay “On Keeping a Notebook“:

So the point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking. That would be a different impulse entirely, an instinct for reality which I sometimes envy but do not possess. At no point have I ever been able successfully to keep a diary; my approach to daily life ranges from the grossly negligent to the merely absent, and on those few occasions when I have tried dutifully to record a day’s events, boredom has so overcome me that the results are mysterious at best. What is this business about “shopping, typing piece, dinner with E, depressed”? Shopping for what? Typing what piece? Who is E? Was this “E” depressed, or was I depressed? Who cares?

In fact I have abandoned altogether that kind of pointless entry; instead I tell what some would call lies. “That’s simply not true,” the members of my family frequently tell me when they come up against my memory of a shared event. “The party was not for you, the spider was not a black widow, it wasn’t that way at all.” Very likely they are right, for not only have I always had trouble distinguishing between what happened and what merely might have happened, but I remain unconvinced that the distinction, for my purposes, matters.

If, like me, you love peeking into the journals and notebooks of some of our best writers, then I highly recommend South and West.

5 Analog Tools I Can’t Live Without (and Why) — George Williams

5 Analog Tools I Can’t Live Without (and Why) — George Williams

This is an old article, but I just came across it. It’s a great list. I especially love the inclusion of a coffee press—it’s a nice reminder that analog has benefits in all areas of life, not just pen and paper. (I use a Chemex to make my coffee, and while it drips I tend to do some morning journaling and to-do list planning.)

Want to be more productive? Don’t go paperless. — Todoist Blog

Want to be more productive? Don’t go paperless. — Todoist Blog

Paper doesn’t require booting time, passwords, or fingerprint scanning. Pens and pencils don’t require charging. Field Notes don’t crash. Bic pens are ready to write at a moment’s notice, whether you have 4G connectivity or not. Cheap spiral notebooks don’t need a lightning cable or a power brick.

With paper, there’s no system to learn; no hot keys to memorize. Formatting is decided by the user and can be changed in an instant.