This is Question 3 from my book Your Biz Your Way: Q3 Why am I always compelled to start a new notebook?
“The ‘I’ll start a new notebook for that idea’ syndrome means I always have many, many, notebooks on the go at any one time, plus bookmarks in Pocket and in different browsers, helpful ideas and notes on my phone, books laid open where I was taking notes… the resulting visual chaos means that from time to time I simply tidy everything away and start again.”
What happens when you tidy everything away? Do you lose your notes and ideas? Are they replaced by others?
I’ve written elsewhere in this book about Ideas Sex, how seductive a gazillion ideas are and how much we creative types adore them. But they don’t pay the bills, do they?
I too love a bit of stationery and suffer from stationery lust. Only this week my client showed me her new notebook, so I bought one even though I don’t need one! I’ve since paid it forward to my niece who has the stationery thing and accepted it gratefully, sight unseen.
There are a couple of useful thoughts which come to mind. It’s an either/or I think.
Carry on as you are. Collect all your thoughts and ideas and write them down for fear of losing them.
Trust that the Universe has got your back and that you will remember anything important, or your subconscious will. I think there’s a scarcity (and a lack of trust in our memory too) that we scrabble to write everything down. Ironically, as you probably know, smart woman that you are, our memory works better the more we use and trust it to work as it should, as it does just naturally if we will but allow it.
I don’t have notes all over the shop. I use one notebook at a time but you are beginning to get to know me by now. Discipline is one of my middle names! I’ll confess I do keep the odd note or list on that thingie on my iPad, but I think they currently number four and I’ve owned this iPad since 2011. So you get my drift.
Next time you feel the need to bookmark something or start a new notebook, don’t. See what happens instead. See what it feels like. See if you lose something valuable forever. Or see if you just feel easier and you sigh in relief. I’m betting you will.
In a nutshell, hoarding ideas is scarce. They are in unlimited abundance and available to us to download from divine escrow whenever we want. Action is the thing. Am I going to action this today or soon? If no, then how will it help me if I record it for posterity?
There’s no shortage of ideas, nor ever will be. We could trust that our memory and our sub-conscious and our genius always has full access to all of the ideas we’ve ever created or, at the very least, the important ones or the ones we are determined we are going to do something with. If we aren’t going to do something with them, and we don’t want to hug notebooks full of them to ourselves (not quite sure what the point of that would be?), then we don’t need to record them. I have a sense that recording them is just contributing to your overwhelm which is why, eventually, you let them free, releasing them back into the wild or the WPB, whichever is handier on the day.
What I do do is review each notebook as it becomes full. Sometimes as I move from the old to the new, I keep the just-past-finished one for a bit, then one day I go through it and bring forward to the newer notebook anything important. And occasionally, if that becomes repetitive, or in the case of something I want people to access after my death (!), I record it somewhere on my computer, although God alone knows how they will break into that.
This is a major bonkersness on both our parts, isn’t it?
Ideas are not gold-dust. They are in a never-ending and plentiful supply, that’s part of the problem. Accept them, appreciate them, love them, let them come and go knowing they are all around us all the time, even when we are sleeping. And stop with the need to record them.
Just to play devil’s avocado* in closing, many creative people comme nous die with homes full of notebooks crammed with snippets, creativity prompts, cuttings and ideas. If that’s you, then keep on keeping on. Only you can decide if this habit is doing more harm than good, for that’s all I believe it is, a habit. And you can decide whether that’s a good and supportive habit, or not. By the sound of it, the answer is not. And, if so, you already know what I am going to say, don’t you? Stop it immediately!
* Thanks to J and C for this gorgeous expression. You know who you are.
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