Do folks still use notebooks and write with a pen and paper? I still do. I have a laptop, an iPad, I used to have an iPhone but no longer do, and I still think writing with a pen and paper in my notebook is the easiest and most creative way to help get the ideas in my brain out into the world.
“Big things have small beginnings”
Many of the early concepts to decide our farming future were first inked in the notebook shown above whilst we lived in Norway from 2009 – 2012. Kimmy and I started this one entitled “New York Future” and right after the Winter Farming Conference this January, it ran out of pages. As I go through it, I still manage to find a few white spaces to add stuff and embellish past concepts here & there. Because I refer to it almost daily, I can’t bear to part with it completely just yet.
Going with the stream
My notebooks tend to be filled with a “stream of consciousness” style of writing in block letter print and seldom in script. I never use an eraser. Wrestling with my thoughts for hours and then getting them down as they flow out is often a worthwhile experience. At times I am like a divining rod downloading the secrets of the universe & feel like I’ve given birth to some big idea! Somehow the idea also finds a sense of validation and security merely from the simple act of committing it to paper. Sound crazy? Maybe it is. But I’ve always been a creative spirit full of imagination, inspiration and intuition. Ideas, both right and wrong, are what I produce. It’s a natural extension of my being and I know at times it makes my wife go mental.
Writing ideas about this blog before it went live was one of these experiences. It started small and I kept building on the concept over time. I did not really know what to expect. Two years later as the blog became a reality, it went pretty much according to the bits & pieces I had outlined, which is not always the case.
I have to admit that my organization in my notebooks is pretty poor. There’s no rhyme or reason to how I have it set-up. But that’s probably why I like it so much. When I want to go back and refresh my memory I am forced to page through all the randomness before I can spot that little nugget of knowledge. This reminds me of all the other ideas I had as well as other to-do items.This could be seen as highly inefficient – but being a “collective mind map” of my essence, I find the time spent reabsorbing prior schemes worthwhile. My mom is always asking me what I’m scheming up next so being on-the-ball is always good for her sometimes challenging conversations.
The pen is still mightier than the iPad.
Many people, me included, like their Apple iDevice because it just works. For me, a pen & notebook just works and I have always loved that in its simplicity. The pen is still mightier than the iPad. Technology has gotten pretty good at helping us all take notes or more the point, clip-the-web and tag for later. I do use programs like Evernote and in my previous job I used OneNote quite a bit. So now I have notes everywhere: in the cloud and ones penned on wood pulp. Both have their uses. I prefer the notebook.
The dichotomy of ideas
I appreciate the space and time that a notebook offers. The example page above is my simplistic attempt at mapping out the inputs, outputs and infrastructures in an artisan farm system. Impossible? Probably. But in all truthfulness, there are bits and pieces here that will be viable (ecologically and economically) in our farming future.
I never said that my notebooks were 100% accurate or even entirely based in reality. I have found (often) that they are not! But the exercise itself is a valuable one if you embrace the inherent duality of ideas. In my estimation, put into action, ideas can represent both trial & error.
What I do is get it all out and pen everything to paper: the ideas that won’t work and the ones that will. My hopeful task in the journey is to figure out which ones are of the right path; the path with a heart, and to make mistakes (or happy accidents) while learning from the rest.
It’s not the perfect roadmap. It’s actually more like a treasure map because the answers are there, just somewhat hidden and only action will reveal them. That’s what’s in my notebook. What’s in your notebook? I’d love to know.