If you’ve ever wondered what Geoffrey Rush was pecking at in The King’s Speech, or what Colin Firth was writing his novel on in Love Actually, this website should shed some light on your questions. I know I’ve definitely added some of these to my “must have” list.
I have added a new page to the site titled Site Notes. I’m using this page to build an evolving set of rules and recommendations The Cramped. A philosophy.txt as it were. This is what constitutes an operating manual for this site. It is also, more than anything, a promise to the readers. As I say on one of my other sites, this is “What we believe in…”
“We don’t write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,” Mueller told me. “The people who were taking notes on the laptops don’t have to be judicious in what they write down.”
She thinks this might be the key to their findings: Take notes by hand, and you have to process information as well as write it down. That initial selectivity leads to long-term comprehension.
So, aspiring writer, I propose that the quality and meaningfulness of what you and I do correlates with our willingness to consume, ponder, critique, and contemplate the thoughts of others. We are not little blobs floating in some sterile vacuum, and neither are we sitting at a typewriter in a whitewashed isolation cell. We only nurture our capacity to say something constructive about the world if we let the world in.
A reminder that, in order to be better writers, we must be better observers. It is essential that we disengage from the blank page regularly so we might go out and have the experiences required to return and fill it.
As an aside, James Shelley’s subscription newsletter, The Caesura Letters, is one of the best things I read daily. It’s smart and challenging. You should check it out.
I have been writing, but if you follow me online there’s no way you could have seen it. In December, as part of my quest to cultivate one habit per month, I journaled every day: quietly, consistently, prolifically. I didn’t mean for it to be a secret, but the deeper I got the further I drifted from the Internet. My tumblr went stale. Old articles of mine resurfaced on Medium, but I didn’t pick up the conversation. I disengaged from industry conversations I normally would have participated in. I didn’t tweet once in three whole weeks. Online, it looked like I didn’t exist. (Or perhaps was on vacation.)
To the Internet, Something Was Up! And I confess?—?something was up. The truth is, I was writing: I was writing by hand. Writing with ink, pen and paper (not the app). And it felt?—?and “felt” is precisely the right word here?—?it felt great.
Beautiful read. And it’s not just about the joys and benefits of writing on paper but also reading as well. This part especially resonated with me:
Writing?—?by hand?—?makes me a better writer. And reading?—?on paper— that makes me a better reader, too.
At the end of December, I ordered a large single page per day Moleskine diary in bright yellow, and couldn’t wait to start the process of logging my days on January 1st.
I’ve never been one to do well keeping a regular diary in the traditional sense. When I’ve tried in the past, I’d start hot and fade after a few weeks of writing diary entries.
Digital tools haven’t solved this issue either. I love Day One, but have been off track for over a month in that app.
Yet, despite my issues keeping a traditional diary, it isn’t dampening my enthusiasm for keeping a logbook. This alternative approach to documentation fits me. It remains something I look forward to every day.
The difference? My logbook is a living document. I add to it as the day progresses, rather than trying to recall past activities and thoughts at the end of the day, in narrative form. I’ve shifted to capturing atomic bits of the day as they happen, rather than working to create a narrative of the day from memory.
I track my tasks with hand-drawn checklists, add icons with notes and comments about what I’m doing or should do, and if I have time or the inclination, I can add a short narrative from the day’s activities. But recall narratives are completely optional to the logbook pages.
I’ve made use of empty pages to sketch out concepts and ideas. On one occasion, I sketchnoted a TV documentary as an experiment for the book I’m working on called The Sketchnote Workbook.
I’ve also jumped back to past days, adding detailed narratives and notes to the pages to fill them in. Oddly enough, because my daily log is already on the pages somehow encourages me to fill in the details on memorable days.
Overall, the active nature of a logbook fits me much better than a traditional diary. I can verify it scientifically by the 4 months of entries in my yellow logbook. Now I feel incomplete if my logbook isn’t in my briefcase, and the desk seems empty if my logbook isn’t on top of it.
Exploring, experimenting and pushing my logbook has been an enjoyable and valuable experience. Why not consider starting a logbook of your own? It doesn’t have to start at the beginning of the year, nor be captured in a fancy logbook.
In notebooks, I’ve found it a unique way to see the ink of my life spill together on the pages. Mundane lists, sketches you can’t decipher anymore, phone numbers you can never call again because of the pain on the other end of the line, meeting notes from an hour of your life you won’t ever get back. They flow together on paper in a way that matches our bleeding lives.
Beautiful post by Nick Wynja on why he prefers notetaking and journaling on paper.
From Virginia Woolf’s heart-breaking suicide letter, to Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones sent to President Eisenhower; from the first recorded use of the expression ‘OMG’ in a letter to Winston Churchill, to Gandhi’s appeal for calm to Hitler; and from Iggy Pop’s beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan, to Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable job application letter, Letters of Note is a celebration of the power of written correspondence which captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that make up all of our lives.