Start a Commonplace Book

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

If you’re like most writers these days, you spend most of your writing time at a keyboard and rarely pick up a pen or pencil except, perhaps, to jot yourself a note. It’s just so much easier and faster to type and copy/paste than to handwrite and transcribe. But what if you’re missing out on creative leaps you might have taken if you picked up a pen every now and then?

Your mission this month is to start an old-school commonplace book, even if—especially if—you’re resistant to the idea. “But I prefer to blog,” you say. No worries. There’s no law saying you can’t have two commonplaces. Use your blog for quotes and ideas you want to share with others and your old-fashioned book for things you want to keep to yourself for now. Come on, there’s something a little exciting about having a Secret Book, right?

Your commonplace book will likely be with you for years, so think about choosing a sturdier book than you might normally choose for a regular journal or writer’s notebook. A commonplace book is the perfect opportunity to indulge your desire for that leather-bound journal you’ve long admired but never been able to justify spending that much money on. (With the gift-giving season upon us, maybe it’s time to update your wishlist.)

Once you’ve selected your commonplace book, make sure you have a pen or pencil you like writing with. A writing instrument doesn’t need to be expensive; it does need to write easily (I like these). Avoid scratchy ballpoints that are just going to irritate you even if they do happen to be free and in arm’s reach.

Now. Do something to make your commonplace book yours: write your name inside the cover, maybe add the date or place. Finally, find a quotation you love and write it in your book. Congratulations, you’ve started commonplacing!

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