Recently I’ve found that, when I post on Facebook, what I actually want to do is write a blog post. There are more thoughts and events in my head than I can handle, and as of yet not a one has been fully written down in almost a year – despite my best intentions at keeping a Commonplace book! Therefore, my ponderings and journal entries and dabblings shall now be posted for all the world to see!
For my first post, I may as well discuss what a Commonplace book is and why YOU should be keeping one! (even if you have a blog already)
Commonplace books are, in the words of Wikipedia, “essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: […] used by readers, writers, students, and scholars for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned.” Because it is filled with your uncensored writing and thoughts as well as other things which interest you, a Commonplace book is also a valuable tool to help you get to know yourself.
To me, a Commonplace book is where you think on paper. It’s where, when a thought or idea or question crosses your mind, you write it down. It’s where you expand upon those thoughts, explore those ideas, ask and answer difficult questions. It’s where you jot down inspirational quotes, take notes on things you need to remember. Rough drafts for papers, writing exercises, and stray recipes often appear in my commonplace book as well.
Your Commonplace book might be in the notes section on Facebook, or a notepad app on your phone. It might be a Google Drive file. Or, like mine, it might be in a composition notebook.
Wherever it is kept, whatever it is filled with, your Commonplace book is your safe place for your thoughts and epiphanies to be recorded without worrying about presentation, completeness, incoherence or spelling errors. This is why I feel that it’s valuable, even if you have a public blog. Inked in pen some places and scribbled with fading pencil in others, my Commonplace book is filled with ramblings and rants, poems and sketches, novel concepts and beginnings to actual novels.
Several years ago, I absentmindedly recorded a newfound desire in the pages of my Commonplace book during one of my many inspiring Leadership classes: “I have found a new life purpose. I want to share the skills for happiness that I have learned here with others, so they can be happy.” I forgot that I had written it until, soon before my graduation from high school, I nostalgically flipped through that tattered notebook. I was shocked that I’d ever had such clarity concerning my life purpose! Yet it rang true in my soul, and has given me direction in life.
Many other life-changing epiphanies came to me while writing in or reading from my Commonplace book, and I know myself better from keeping one. I know that you will find that the same is true for you as you write in your own.
I challenge you to start keeping a Commonplace book. Write in your Commonplace book every day, jotting thoughts and ideas and quotes down in it when they come to you. Take ten minutes out of your day to expand upon thoughts you’ve had or write your response to a quote you heard. It will be life-changing.