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He had the background, the data, the record, and the inclination, and he has blessed us throughout the eternities for the service he rendered in writing the first five books of the Bible. How grateful we are that Abraham wrote his own life story and that important segment of the history of the world and his own revelations, thoughts, feelings, and rich experiences. And he said unto them: Was it not so? I am glad that it was not I who was reprimanded, even though mildly and kindly, for not having fulfilled the obligation to keep my records up to date. Early in the American life of the family of Lehi, his son, Nephi, said:.

This great record included not only the movements of his people but events from his own personal life.

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And then we must not forget or minimize the great efforts of our modern prophet, Joseph Smith, to write the history of the Restoration of the gospel and also his own personal experiences in great detail. What a mass of confusion we would have without those authentic, personal, carefully written records!

Accordingly, we urge our young people to begin today to write and keep records of all the important things in their own lives and also the lives of their antecedents in the event that their parents should fail to record all the important incidents in their own lives. Your own private journal should record the way you face up to challenges that beset you. Do not suppose life changes so much that your experiences will not be interesting to your posterity.

Experiences of work, relations with people, and an awareness of the rightness and wrongness of actions will always be relevant. No one is commonplace, and I doubt if you can ever read a biography from which you cannot learn something from the difficulties overcome and the struggles made to succeed. These are the measuring rods for the progress of humanity. As we read the stories of great men, we discover that they did not become famous overnight nor were they born professionals or skilled craftsmen. The story of how they became what they are may be helpful to us all. Your own journal, like most others, will tell of problems as old as the world and how you dealt with them.

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The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative. Arguing with Reality. A lot of people mark down passages or fold pages of stuff they like. Then they put of doing anything with it. You can avoid this by not letting it pile up. You have to stay on top of it. Scott Fitzgerald published after his death—is the random phrases and observations he made. They are aphorisms without the posturing that comes with writing for publication. So many of my notecards are just things that occurred to me, notes to myself in essence.

Use it how you want.

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Look, my commonplace book is easily justified. I write and speak about things for a living. I need this resource. But so do you. You write papers, memos, emails, notes to friends, birthday cards, give advice, have conversations at dinner, console loved ones, tell someone special how you feel about them.

He carried them with him all over like a carpenter brings their tools. These were the tools for his trade. You do have the time. But start, now, and stop putting it off. Make it a priority. It will pay off. I promise. Want to learn more about writing? Check out WritingRoutines.

Comments can be seen there. Get the secret book list here! Great post! I do make sure that I physically write down things myself for the most part instead of copying and pasting and paraphrasing when I do copy. My girlfriend in high school bought a notebook and told me that I should just start writing. I have kept a notebook ever since. It has changed me for the better. This post has summed up what I thought for years but have never been able to put into words. Funny that the practice of writing in the notebooks never became the topic of writing. I saw one of your earlier pieces on this topic, I think at thought catalog.

Your piece made me realize I should take it more seriously, and it have been. So thanks for that. I would always make notes in the margins whenever my English teacher started rambling about a topic or book. When I re-read them today, those notes are way more meaningful than interesting than the real notes. One comment: after reading this on ThoughtCatalog I stared this myself.

But worrying about preserving the notes, and wanting an easy way to search should I need to, I decided to buy one of the LiveScribe pens. This enables me to follow your suggestion of physically writing notes onto flashcards, while having the material automatically and digitally saved. Ryan, have you ever found yourself pouring through your themes, looking for a quote you know you wrote down, but never finding it? Before I heard Joe Polish say that Neil Strauss kept a crazy amount of notes on his phone and then each night would categorize them for easy access, I thought I was crazy.

But I love that. I have many files on my computer i keep everything electronic, although I understand and really like the way you do it that are all themed by main subject. Each time a subject becomes too crowded, i create a new file with a sub subject. My favorite method are spreadsheets because i can have multiple tabs and it makes everything neat and easy to organize and sort.

Although I tried many other methods my own PHP scripts, Evernotes, dropbox, etc i always go back to spreadsheet since they are so malleable to my need and universal. But i have a question about taking notes in a book. Just to add on that, I just realized that i love taking notes with Snagit I use it a TON for other images and sorting websites that i like i used to have a web design cie and have thousands of those. But yesterday, after writing this comment, i took a note from a Fastcompany article and used Snagit to do exactly as my 4hww image above as a test and it was wonderful: arrows, yellow highlights, brackets, circles, colors, etc.

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Is there a way to do this on Kindle, or an app that open kindle books that i could use to do that? The only major drawback when i used snagit to take notes on that articles is that all text is converted to images, therefore not searchable… Bummer. Joel, if you use an iPhone you might want to try Captio. It opens on a blank screen and, when you save, emails it to you with the from address of Captio. Then in your email you can set up a filter to put those all in one folder for processing later. Yes, you can do this with existing email, but skipping the step of having to enter your email address makes a difference.

Kindle is also great for this as well when dealing with books. Easier to organize, recall, and build upon than an actual physical database of knowledge but to each his own!

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But the idea of a commonplace book to store ideas and random information I come across and would like to keep is brilliant. Just a side note the links in the article are all going to a page. I would be interested in reading the articles on how to read more and which books to read. Let me know if it is possible to fix those links or direct me them. Late to the game, but must say I like this article. I keep mementos from all my travels and hope that I will eventually use them to write a book.

I suppose I should be more organized in keeping a commonplace book or box. Oh wow! The information from this post helps me to get my head straight, especially the part about writing in the book first and transferring later. Because I have already started organizing all my other stuff into Evernote as I developed the system myself. Thank you so much. This might seem like a minor little tidbit, but this just literally lifted a huge weight of books from my shoulders.

Read the book on kindle, make highlights and notes on your device, export your notes to an email via the kindle management portal, and forward the email to your Evernote account email address. Done and done. I came upon your piece about commonplace books via a very circuitous route, but instantly recognized the concept from my own practice of keeping notebooks.

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I certainly identify with your attachment to pen and paper, but I also recognize the incredible utility of cross-plaform, searchable, digital cloud-based notes. I used to get distracted from making important notes, because I was constantly trying to find the best system for organizing them. Imagine how much fun and joy that brought into my life! Once I finally just started using basically two journals, one that remains near my desk and one in my handbag, the joy of spontaneously capturing all those bits of wisdom and inspiration returned.

With that came an incredible burst of creativity! I use one run-on document on my computer for longer stints of writing. I like the idea of using the Life Scribe for tactile pleasure of writing and the convenience of digital storage. I will try that. I would love to implement this system and have already begun. Also, how do you ensure you actually remember the stuff? Do you go back and review or study the cards?