Sometimes I’m asked why I carry a notebook in my purse or my backpack. I always keep the notebook with me when I’m out and about. While on my daily walk, I may stop abruptly to capture a thought, idea, or memory. It’s not uncommon for people to take a second look at me when I stop walking to write.
Recently, someone stopped on the walking path to suggest that I take notes on my phone. I acknowledged his suggestion. However, I find that handwritten notes serve me better than using apps like Evernote. I’ve had little success with capturing notes on my phone although I do resort to the phone if, by chance, I’ve left my trusted notebook behind.
I also keep a pen and notepad on my bedside table. It’s handy for making notes of things I want to do or for noting ideas that come as I read in bed before sleep. Sometimes I record dreams — if I can remember the dream!
I learned to take copious notes while training as a social worker. Writing a process record of interviews was something that was required in graduate school in the early ’70s. In group work classes we were required to keep logs of interventions, questions, and observations as part of class assignments.
Using a notebook became a survival technique during my career. At work, I used project management logs to track team tasks and deadlines. I made notes in most meetings that I attended including dates and places along with who was (or wasn’t) in attendance.
Sometimes, I wrote notes simply to stay awake during boring presentations. I may have looked engaged with the topic but I was likely writing an outline for a report or a presentation that I needed to make!
My notebook at work was filled with reminders and ‘to do’ items. I developed my own shorthand and symbols. The notebook served as a memory jog when writing reports. Colleagues, certain that I had captured details of an event, often asked me to look up important information.
Carrying and using a notebook helped me to develop observational skills. I wrote about who said what, how it was said, and how it was received. Sometimes I wrote a note to myself to follow up on a suggestion. Sometimes hearing a discussion triggered new ideas.
I’ve always loved cursive writing. Decent legible penmanship comes easily for me. There is something tactile about writing words on real paper rather than digitally. It certainly helps with retention. I also believe that magic happens when both the hand and the brain are engaged.
Thoughts and ideas are fleeting. Like dreams, thoughts and ideas don’t always come back unless I note them. Writing stimulates my creativity. When I re-read notes I often combine ideas in new ways. As well, I find themes. Sometimes I solve problems by reviewing what’s on the pages!
Writing allows connection with life around me. It’s a link with my past as well as a tool to restore a sense of well-being in the present.
Finally, this notebook inspires my writing. I mine the ideas and thoughts in notebook pages for blog post topics. The unrelated observations, ideas, and memories provide a goldmine of information. Combined with a bit of creativity, a blog post emerges first as a draft and later, as a finished post. Who says random thoughts should be ignored or worse, lost?