Keeping a Notebook

Keeping a Notebook

And I don't mean keeping a laptop. I meaning having a place to write things down to get them out of your mind.

I have written in a notebook for almost twenty years now. I started early. It has been a practice that always brings a lot more with it than you expect.

By writing things down, you make them concrete. I am a dreamer. Always dreaming up new ways of doing things. These things float into my mind at random points of the day. Sometimes they stay and sometimes they move on. Some ideas are good and some are bad. But if I can, I write them down. This fixes them in place. It makes them real instead of a dream. Writing is an action and by taking that first action, the work is set in motion.

Now not every idea is a good one. But when they are down on paper, I don't have to worry about losing the good ones. Somehow the act of writing brings life into the good ones. A few days or weeks later, those ideas come back to me more complete, almost by magic. I don't know what mechanism is at work in this process. I just have learned to trust it over the years.

Another benefit of writing things down is that is seems to free your mind up, as if the ideas I currently have are blocking future ones. Once they are out of the way, watch out. They will come twice as fast tomorrow.

But I try to do it daily. I just start writing. Eventually there is a point where the pen won't stop moving. And that's when I find things I never even thought.

Notebooks are for more than to do lists.


Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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