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.