Commonplace books

I've been finding myself leaning more towards traditional or analogue ways of doing things. I haven't used my Kindle regularly for years (only recently for our trip to Malta), favouring actual printed books. Having tried journaling digitally for convenience and have it fall by the wayside, I now favour writing by hand. Years ago, I had a short-lived practice of going though my Kindle highlights and re-typing them into Google Docs and over the last year or so I've been writing down various quotes relating to story-telling as a way to improve my own skills as a comic artist. I recently found out having some sort of collection like this goes by the name of Commonplace Books.

I've since been delving into how others keep commonplace books to pick up some tips and tricks. One of the videos I watched put across the question of what you do with your notes and highlights after you've put down a book. I realised I don't really do anything with them. There's valuable knowledge I've taken the time to mark in some way but not really put in any effort to try cement it in my memory. I guess this is the essence of studying a subject. You might not be surprised to learn I was never very good at this at school.

Bringing this back around to commonplace books. An idea I came across was to have a notebook devoted to the highlights you take only in books, as you're reading them. Not just simply copying down a quote to review later on, but to write below your own thoughts on that quote. There's value in writing down your thoughts at the time for a later date. You can apply context as to why the quote struck a chord or how you think it might help you in your own life. I guess a by-product of taking this more considered approach, applying a quote to your own thoughts will build a stronger link with the quote and therefore be more likely to stick in your brain.

Another benefit for having this notebook for this singular purpose combined with my desire to keep notes grouped by book will encourage me to stick with a book before starting a new one, which, given the number of unfinished books I have, is a habit I need to squash. It'll also encourage me to revisit books I know I've found useful in the past but just never taken the time to write down the why.

So this weekend while I was at the shops picking up some food so I decided to grab a new notebook to write down things I read and want to remember or explore further.

My aim with this is ultimately to improve my retention of information. I've never had a great memory but it feels like it's even worse now I have a device in my pocket that can remember everything for me. This is one way to try take back a bit of that control away from my phone and get away from the bite-sized attention sucking black-holes of social media.

If you've tried keeping a commonplace book or something similar, it'd be great to hear about your experience so hit me up on Instagram.