I take a spiral notebook and a pen with me everywhere I go. I use it to jot down ideas. There is no rhyme or reason to what I write. When I fill one notebook I start writing in another one. I know I should probably take such notes on my computer, but I prefer to write them out.
Here are some of the entries in my current notebook:
- “Thoughts on ‘Bible Cause’ session at AAR”
- “Notes on Battle Lines: Questions for Jonathan Fetter-Vorm”
- “Presbyterian presidents” (Sunday School class at Derry Presbyterian Church)
- “Thoughts on evangelicals, Trump, and abortion”
- “Notes on Springsteen, Born to Run
- “Stuff at New Jersey Archives”
- “Notes on podcast meeting”
- “Notes on David Smith lecture: “Charity, Humility, and Justice: Learning to Read and Inviting Virtue”
- “Pennsylvania history assignment: Digital Harrisburg”
- “Conversation on Race”
- “Summer 2017: Free weeks”
My notebook writing sounds similar to what Jessica Parr describes in her recent piece at The Junto: “The Research Notebook.”
Here is a taste:
We all have been there: or, at least many of us have. That is, the experience of having a writing brainstorm at an inopportune time. It may disrupt our sleep at 3 am, appear in the middle of office hours, or make itself known as the latest crisis is unfolding on Queen Sugar: often as a partially digested kernel of an idea. Much as writer’s block inevitably comes when we have All. The. Deadlines, that nugget of brilliance does puckishly seem inclined to appear when we are not in an immediate position to write. It has the potential to make a work-in-progress so much better, but its evanescent nature means it may not stick around until we are back in front of our computer. So what’s a scholar to do when they have a stroke of genius and don’t have a block of writing time immediately available?
Read the rest here.