Some people claim seeing your old notes and annotations when you return to a favourite book enhances the experience. I beg to differ.
In which I am astonished by a reminder of how I used to work.
After a frustrating six months, progress on my book is emerging from the doldrums!
In which I unwittingly mimic my hero with the aid of an old chopping board.
An overly nerdish description of the taxonomy I use to classify my various notes.
There are important elements of writing that feel like skiving.
Collections of informally documented stuff have become my archives of sorts.
How I used my note-making system to research and write a chapter of my Darwin book.
How the problems I’ve been encountering lately are a sign (I hope) that my book is starting to come together.
How was I ever able to organise my thoughts without ‘atomising’ them—breaking them down into smaller and smaller discrete notes—and then linking them together?
I’ve known it from the start, but this new way of making notes is perfect for the way I tend to work. It’s what I’ve been looking for all these years.
On the unavoidably provisional nature of essay collections.