Although I don’t totally ascribe to the whole “do not digitize” thing (my whole life is on my iPhone–it’s hard not to Evernote everything), I do agree that this is probably one of best small ways to enrich your life a little. My Evernote “Commonplace Book” is crammed with quotes, other people’s poems, my poems-in-progress, song lyrics (mine and others), photos, story “snippets” and scenes, and all sorts of stuff.
I used to keep everything in Stickies on my Mac, then in Day One (which I got for free during the App Store’s anniversary), but Evernote just makes organizing and syncing so much easier. 🙂
Oh, and if you plan to keep a physical “commonplace book”/diary, it’s best to use a tiny notebook. Less pressure to fill the pages, and easier to lug around. I find unless I’m in one of my “diary seasons,” I don’t fill up notebooks that go beyond hand- or pocket-size.
The other day I was reading a book and I came across a little anecdote. It was about the great Athenian general Themistocles. Before the battle of Salamis, he was locked in a vigorous debate with a Spartan general about potential strategies for defeating the Persians. Themistocles was clearly in the minority with his views (but which ultimately turned out to be right and saved Western Civilization). He continued to interrupt and contradict the other generals. Finally, the Spartan general threatened to strike Themistocles if he didn’t shut up and stop. “Strike!” Themistocles shouted back, “But listen!”
When I read this, I immediately began a ritual that I have practiced for many years–and that others have done for centuries before me–I marked down the passage and later transferred it to my “commonplace book.” Why? Because it’s a great line and it stood out to me. I wrote it…
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