Start your commonplace
1 min read

Start your commonplace

Start your commonplace

This will be a very short article this week because the subject I wanted to cover has already been written about in a way I quite frankly can't but would like to. It's about starting a commonplace.

What is a commonplace you ask?

Well, Thomas J. Bevan has a much more poetic way with words than I do, so what I call note-taking (or note taking, or notetaking; I get confused easily) Thomas calls a commonplace. That has a much more pleasant ring to the ears so let's stick with that.

A commonplace is like your personal wiki, tailored to your tastes and interests, and full of the raw materials which may be useful in the future. The small act of making a note about a book you read or an idea you had and putting it in a commonplace is a terribly powerful and nice thing to do.

Dropping memories, ideas, passing thoughts, and reference points from the past you to the future you in a commonplace is also a tremendous way to track how you think about the world and your place in it.

Your commonplace could be a file, a bunch of notebooks, on your phone or, like me, in a system like Roam Research.

The system doesn't really matter, but getting into the habit of noting down thoughts here and there quickly builds up into a library of ideas.

I've been using a commonplace for around a year now and to read notes from a book I read only six months ago is an astonishing reminder about how bad my memory is and how many interesting things sit all around us. We just have to remember to pick them up from time to time.

Already I'm starting to see how notes in a commonplace act as breadcrumbs connecting past thoughts to future endeavours. It's really quite something.

So, without further ado, allow me to send you away to Thomas' essay on starting a commonplace. Enjoy.

On Starting a Commonplace by Thomas J. Bevan

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