A couple of years ago, I realised that it would be necessary to keep a notebook about my person at all times, in order to jot down ideas when they come to me. Being me, of course it is always on the days I have failed to throw a notebook in my bag that I need to make notes. But that’s okay, because there are always scraps of paper to hand, and often whole sheets (which I can then fold down to mini-zine format). Excellent.
I’ve never been a sketchbook person, because I don’t consider myself an artist, but of late, I’ve realised that sketching quick diagrams to accompany words is actually quite handy; and it really doesn’t matter if the sketches are not those of a talented fine artist. If they convey the point I’m trying to put across, that’s good enough. So now the multitudinous notebooks of my life have been joined by a smaller host of pocket sketchbooks (okay, notebooks with blank pages).
As I work at my laptop every morning, I always have my to-do list notebook by my side – which in addition to my long lists frequently finds itself home to numerous scribbled asides and diagrams because it is handier than either notebook, or sketchbook (which I could obviously go and fetch but simply don’t).
You can see from this haphazard summary that I am less than organised when it comes to organising my ideas. When it comes to getting a particular idea off the ground, I can always visualise in which notebook or on which scrap of paper I made my notes, but then I have to waste time remembering where I have currently stowed those particular pieces of paper, waste further time digging it/them out, then work surrounded by open notebook/s and/or scraps of paper, while I collate my notes for that particular idea.
So it occurred to me that what I need is a larger sketchbook (scrapbook?) in which I can pull together all the scrappy notes into something slightly more coherent. Somewhere that I can literally cut and paste torn out pages from smaller notebooks or loose scraps or pictures I’ve found in a magazine. Then add some extra notes, of course.
Okay, that makes sense: a larger sketchbook. Not something I would carry around with me, I’m clear on that; because I’m lazy, and a pocket notebook is the largest extra weight I’m willing to carry on a regular basis. It would be unwieldy, too, and not very practical to whip out for notes-on-the-go. But how would pasting all my notes into one larger sketchbook work? Because my ideas rarely come in a coherent flow, and are frequently jumbled up with ideas for different projects from day to day (or hour to hour). If I pasted them all into one large sketchbook as the ideas came, it would be equally difficult to collate related thoughts when the time came – flipping backwards and forwards through the pages to find the relevant bits. So, a series of sketchbooks, one for each different idea? This could get complicated. And expensive.
My next thought was a ring binder. Just hole-punch the pages, add in plastic pockets to hold cuttings etc, and easily switch around the pages to re-organise thoughts, and keep notes for individual ideas together. Problem is, I just don’t like ring binders. Those rings always get in the way. And everything looks scrappy very quickly unless you keep everything in those plastic pockets; but then everything is visible but inaccessible. Hmm.
Bingo! Well, maybe. How about an index card system? I’d only ever seen standard 3″ x 5″ index cards before, but I just noticed that my local office supply shop sells 8″ x 5″ index cards (and holder boxes) that would be perfect for organising ideas. Cards are sturdier than paper, so would be less inclined to get scrappy (so quickly) and are easily shuffled back and forth, organised and re-organised according to whatever whim I am currently working on. I’m liking this idea. Hey, I’m liking this idea even better:
- a shoebox
- plus cut-up cereal box index cards
- plus all those blank postcards I have in my stash that I have never found a use for as file cards (write/paste on the blank side, obviously)
- equals cool handmade index card system!
Or, I could go the whole hog and just use an actual filing cabinet with a separate file for each idea. Wow. That sounds a bit scarily organised. I think the shoebox is a bit more me…
Of course, realistically (because like I said above, I really am lazy), I would still never get around to actually filing my ideas until the point at which I wanted to turn the idea into something. But I would have spent some happy hours preparing the filing system. And I would have a better way of keeping the ideas organised while I was working on them.
And of course, the only reason I am thinking about this now is because I have forbidden myself from new projects until after the house-move so I am obviously twitchy to be doing something creative rather than practical. Must distract self from distraction…
(Will update on Friends & Faux project soon – please accept my apologies for continued delay, I’ll get there shortly, I promise!)