The accidental Commonplace book

Before I start talking about my Commonplace book, I should probably preface my thoughts with some background on the Commonplace book.

Commonplace notebooks were very popular a couple of hundred years ago and they were places where people stored pieces of information that they would later find useful. Some people recorded at random and by this I mean they took notes on the next available page whilst other people used indexes and filing systems and, in some cases, had separate books for work and personal matters.

These days, as Commonplace books are enjoying something of a renaissance, it is interesting to see how many different ways pieces of information are being captured and stored; some people are traditional and keep analogue notebooks and some keep digital versions and for others it’s a system that combines the best of both worlds.

Now, me, I’ve always been a collector of quotes, snippets of information and fractions of ideas and every so often I would pull this chaotic mixture of index cards Post-it notes and scraps of paper together and try and make some sense of them.

After doing this for many years I decided to compile them in a notebook and as I had a large Moleskine notebook lying around, they got written, stuck and wedged into this notebook and then I acquired several packs of A5 document wallets from Muji and I gave each project its own folder, so all the scraps of information were sifted and re-filed in the relevant folder.

2 Pages Web 500px.jpg
Two pages from my Commonplace book.

It was only recently that I started reading some online articles about Commonplace books and I realised that what I had been doing for a long time, albeit in a very haphazard way, was keeping my own Commonplace book. After a little searching mine is back on my desk (with the project folders) and has, in a funny sort of way, acquired a new level of importance.

However, you choose to keep your Commonplace book; be it index cards, a notebook or a simple digital file it’s about keeping the information that is valuable to you.

Essentially, like a mechanic needs a toolbox a creative person needs a Commonplace book; it’s your spanners and hammers, it’s the tools that will make and fix your work.

So, if you haven’t got one, now is the time to start one.

4 thoughts on “The accidental Commonplace book”

    1. Hi
      Thanks for reading my piece on Commonplace books, I’m glad you liked it.

      The Theives Guild receipts were give to me by my good friend Bernard who runs the Discworld Emporium in Wincanton, needless to say I am a Discworld fan.
      If you find yourself in that part of the world it’s definitely worth a visit, the Emporium is amazing, here is the link to it

      Best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah – thanks for confirming my suspicion. Alas, I now live in the colonies where I enjoy trying to explain Pratchettisms like “Llamedos” to the more literal minded.


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