I have decided to try out this space as an online commonplace book. A commonplace book, in case you don’t know, is a diary of sorts, except it is for keeping track of ideas, quotes, thoughts, things to research. I’ve used them for years without knowing that they had a name. I first heard of the term at a book event with Steven Johnson, who was discussing his book, Where Good Ideas Come From (an excellent book, by the way).
I use my paper commonplace book as a place to keep track of the myriad of ideas that pass through my life and my mind each day. I go through it when I write. For example, I have a whole notebook full of ideas/thoughts/notes from the year I wrote my cookbook. When I run out of room in one notebook, I start a new one. At various points in my life I’ve tried to divide up my commonplace books: one for this project, one for that project. But that doesn’t work for me. It’s easier and more relevant for me to put all my ideas in place, where they can bump up against each other and create new connections.
In case you’re interested, there is also an online program, Devonthink, that is designed to be an online commonplace book. But, the way it is set up doesn’t work for the way my brain works.
In addition to being extraordinarily handy, my commonplace books allow me to indulge in my addiction to pretty notebooks.