Commonplace Book

A Commonplace Book

Posted at — Aug 9, 2019

I’ve decided to name this collections of posts (is it really a blog?) “Commonplace Book”. The name came after reading an article about something I have been doing for a very long time, but never realized had an official name and impressive history.

If you haven’t heard the term, and don’t care to sift through the Wikipedia entry, Commonplace Books are essentially compilations of knowledge, filled with whatever happens to strike the author at any particular time. They differ from journals in that they aren’t necessarily a recording of personal action (though they can be), and they aren’t necessarily prone to introspective writing (though they may), but are more of a scrapbook of sorts, collecting ideas, quotations, diagrams, thoughts, observations, or anything else that may be useful for reference in the future. There is no prescribed format, and the author is also the intended reader, though in some cases, they have been published publicly.

For me, my commonplace book has always been about retaining information. My memory retention improves a great deal if I manually write something out with a pen or pencil, almost the same way song lyrics are memorable because they are tied to notes in a scale, triggering the memory of the words when the notes are played. I have been keeping a commonplace book off and on for around the last 15 years.

a collection of the author's commonplace books

I find that for writing, I prefer pencils to pens, though in a pinch a good fountain pen comes very close to a nice pencil. If possible, a regular wooden pencil over a mechanical pencil as long as there is a sharpener handy, though the later is still preferable to a pen.

an example of the inside of a notebook

Returning to this site, I’ve decided on the name “commonplace book” because I want no prescribed length, content, format, or other restrictions on what I post. Digital as it is (I recommend keeping a physical commonplace book), it may be excerpts from my notebooks, or pieces expanding thoughts already in one of my notebooks.

Looking forward to it.