I'll annotate this article into my note-taking system.
Interesting - in many ways I really disagree! I think the root cause of stale ideas is not taking notes vs. not, but rather letting attention be drawn to what you're "supposed" to be interested in (an external focus), rather than to what you're actually interested in (an internal focus). Focusing on what I'm supposed to be interested in means I'll never have any new ideas, because new ideas can't come from the outside.
I have an elaborate backlink-full notetaking system not because "I'm supposed to take notes", but rather because the neurons in my mind come together maybe once a day or once every other day to form some interesting, novel view and if I don't capture it, I *will* actually lose it forever. And capturing all my ideas + making them easy to find resurface makes having new ideas much easier - I often find that reading my old ideas causes me to generate many new ones. It also makes outlining essays much easier (it's why when we talked about essay ideas, I had such a big list!), and thus writing (at least, for me) feels more within reach.
The most important thing, though, is that hanging out in my notes and discovering new ideas from my past self is one of my favorite things to do - it feels like I get to have a conversation with a Kanjun from a parallel universe whose mind was full of beautiful but very different ideas than me, and she's kindly recorded them all for my benefit, and building off her ideas gives me great joy!
This is goddamn beautiful.
Thomas Edison was a big note taker.
Mark Twain kept 40-50 pocket notebooks over four decades of his life. He often began one before embarking on a trip. He filled the notebooks with observations of people he met, thoughts on religion and politics, drawings and sketches of what he saw on his travels, potential plots for books, and even ideas for inventions (he filed 3 patents during his lifetime).
Goerge Lucas was mixing the sound for American Graffiti with Walter Murch, Murch asked Lucas for R2, D2, meaning Reel 2, Dialogue 2. Lucas liked the sound of that phrase and jotted it down in his notebook. This little note would of course come in handy later for the naming of that now famous robot. Names like Jawa and Wookie also began as quick scribbles in Lucas’ notebook.
Charles Darwin, Beethoven... the list goes on.
I don't buy it. Note taking isn't going to ruin your creativity or keep you from doing uncomfortable things. Some people may use it as a distraction, but here is what it truly provides - a way to override your impulses and cognitive biases. Often times, what you perceive to be the most important thing in the moment isn't the most productive or creative or valuable thing to be doing. Being creative is about drawing two distinctly diverse ideas together to generate something new. Notes help with that. They help with getting you to do the hard thing, because that hard thing is at the top of your to do list.
The issue you are pussyfooting about probably has more to do with being dishonest with oneself than it has to do with wether or not notes taking is a bad thing.
This is it!
Can definitely tell the difference between a book written by "synthesizing the previously unarticulated in the moment" versus one that just reads like a hodgepodge re-arrangement of prewritten notes.
Thank you so much for sharing such a great insight, Sasha!
As I'm an avid note-taker, I really enjoyed reading this article.
Here's a list of my highlights that I really resonated with from this article and my notes:
>> Getting lost in your knowledge management system is a fantastic way to avoid creating things.
>> Most heart-stopping writing comes from synthesizing the previously unarticulated in the moment. Rather than reaching for your database, try channeling what’s in the air at this very second.
✍️ Note: I prefer to use my database to search for related topics and ideas though.
>> It’s not that I advocate for no note-taking. I just strongly believe in keeping it as elementary as possible, such that the note-taking itself doesn’t become the thrust of the endeavor.
>> Leonardo da Vinci kept all of his notes in one big book. If he liked something he put it down. This is known as a commonplace book, and it is about how detailed your note-taking system should be unless you plan on thinking more elaborately than Leonardo da Vinci.
✍️ Note: Interesting to know that he gathered all the notes in one big book. I think having things in one place and make it easier to access are keys.
Thank you again for sharing this!
Though it's in Japanese, it reminds me of this article.
Never try to make your notes look pretty.
GET THEIR ASS!
If you want to have a look at Da Vincis commonplace book, than head over to this article (https://open.substack.com/pub/jillianhess/p/leonardo-da-vincis-zibaldone?r=23i39x&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web )
where Jillian Hess wrote about Leonardos note taking!
Note taking is not _preparing_ for creative work. Note taking _is_ creative work.
I write. I throw it in the box. Every Sunday I go through the contents of the box, categorize and file them.
The internal struggle to organize my notes according to someone else's idea's was real. Thanks for a change in perspective.
This is what I do so obviously this view has my ringing endorsement :')
Though I will say that if you're on no notetaking at all, a common notebook is a *huge* upgrade, so don't sleep on it. I only started using Pinboard maybe 18 months ago and it's saved my ass constantly. But I also don't have a robust tagging hierarchy, pretty much just Big Pile.
Never been a note-taker except in certain circumstances. I just know I'll never read those notes so why take them
As an aside to that, I heard someone saying that we shouldn't worry about forgetting an idea because we didn't write it down. It if's a really great idea, an idea that resonates with us, we will remember it. If it's gone, it wasn't really meant for us.