Why Every Writer Needs To Know About Commonplace Books

A man with a cap writing in a notebook

Photo: Brad Neathery

You know how you wake up in the morning and think ‘Whoa, that was a weird dream’, and you’re pretty sure you’ll remember it for later, but before you’re done making coffee, all that remains are the vague leftover feelings?

That’s memory for you. Here’s another example. Try recalling what you had for dinner last week. Doesn’t really ring a bell, am I right? What about last month? Last year?

The reason why I bring this up is exactly because of last week’s dinner. There I was, stuffing my face with chicken and rice, and this thought popped up in my head.

What if I wrote a blog post about remembering every dinner I ever had?

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Having Trouble Getting Things Done? Try Out This Neat Little Trick

A woman in glasses lying down on her couch in a blanket

Photo: Adrian Swancar

The best parts of being a writer is having an excuse to craft the most outlandish metaphors. I could liken rock climbing to drawing, for instance, because it’s all about learning the little techniques that’ll make up the larger picture (heh) that is your art.

Or I could link running and writing, because you’ll never see your improvement in your day-to-day, but do it long enough and you’ll be able to see how far (heh heh) you’ve progressed.

Having said that, boy do I have the metaphor for today’s topic.

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Listen To That Voice Inside You

Many walking across a line of fiery coals

Photo: Joshua Newton

I’M GOING TO START THIS STORY OFF WITH A BANG. ALL CAPS BABY. WHOOOO!

How did that sound in your head? Did it feel like I was shouting at you?

How about now? More reasonable? Good. You’re probably wondering what this is all about. I promise I’ll get to that in a bit.

But first, let me pose you this question. Have you ever had a calling? Or has your conscience ever spoken to you? Maybe gave you a couple pointers that seemed outlandish at first, but started making sense after a week?

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That Time I Tried To Be A Pickup Artist

Banana with lipstick stains all over it

Photo: Deon Black

“Hey, any idea what’s cool to do around here?”

The woman I’d just spoken to held her book closer to her chest, sidestepping away like a crab. No reply, no smile. In fact, she scrunched her face as if I smelled like goat droppings.

I still cringe at the memory of me talking up to random girls in the shopping mall, just because I’d gotten a copy of The Game during my young adulthood, and I thought it that it would be the key to my relationship problems.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

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Working From Home Ain’t As Cool As It Seemed, Huh?

Woman with notebook and laptop on her bed

Photo: Jodie Cook

You know I used to idolise the freelance life. I wanted the remote lifestyle, my own hours, and the freedom from fluorescent-bathed cubicles.

And I would get a taste of the digital nomad lifestyle, but me being me, I would also get bored of it real quick.

Back then, I used to whine to anyone who’d listen, and seeing as to how my friends were way more responsible than me, my complaints often fell on deaf ears.

“What’s the problem?” a friend once said. “At least you get to stay home.”

“Yeah,” I’d tell them, “but I work just as hard at ho—”

“And you don’t need to spend time and money on your commute. You lucky guy, you.”

“That’s a solid point for sure, but—”

“It must be great to schedule your own time. If I were you, I’d spend my days working at cafes.”

“But work is work—”

“You’re so lucky.”

“Right.”

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