Jul 062012

All the writers who advise writers agree I must keep a notebook.  But they don’t say what it is for.  The obvious intention is that I should use a notebook to collect ideas together for later use.  But I have about 3,000 3×5 index cards, and numerous jottings and computer files, collected over a period of more than thirty years.  I can remember hardly anything that’s in there.

Maybe I should do a random sift every now and then.  Pick up a bundle of cards and see what is there.  Classify them somehow.  Then I could have collections marked:

  • People’s appearance and characteristics;
  • Witticisms and insights – maybe subdivided into politics, marriage …
  • Descriptions of places and buildings;
  • Ideas and sketches for stories; and so on.

Then I would end up with two hundred little drawers – each with two or three cards in – and a vast heap called “miscellaneous”.

And I would have wasted another slab of time which could have been used for writing.

Robin W. Ahlgren

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