I am writing all the time – I find I think better when I am with my notebook and pen. My notebook and pen are always with me. The mind is always at work. I am not much for meditation. My equivalent of meditation is sitting in a place with my notebook and letting the thoughts flow out from the mind. My book becomes a mirror into my mind. I don’t worry about organising my thoughts when I am writing – there is always time to do that later.
One change I have made in the past year is to my early morning thinking and writing. Earlier, I used to write in my notebook. Now, I write on the computer. I identify the topic that I want to think about more deeply on the previous night before I go to sleep. At times, I will even open a Word document and put the title – this way I don’t have to waste time after I wake up thinking about what I am going to write on. I write in a list (as an outline). It is much more efficient than writing in sentences and paragraphs.
Consider the idea for this series. I was on a flight from Goa to Mumbai and started thinking about what I should be blogging next. I wrote out the obvious 4-5 ideas that I had been thinking about. And then as I was reflecting on the conference I had just attended and some of the conversations I had, the idea came that it would be good to write about my process of note-taking. And then I thought: why stop at that? Why not make it into a much broader theme on my “life system”? I opened my book and let the thoughts flow – in about 15 minutes, I had listed about almost 30 themes to describe in such a series.
A trigger from a conversation I had had the previous night (“You are the only person making notes. How do you do it? And why?”) became the spark for a new blog series. As I had answered that question, I had a gut instinct that there was something interesting and I had noted it in my book. And so when I was thinking in the flight (“contiguous uninterrupted time”), the idea took on a life of its own.
Many times, I end up just rewriting old ideas. There is nothing that repetition will not improve. As Heraclitus put it, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” It is never exactly the same idea, and we are also not the same. I may rarely look up older notes but the slow evolution and natural selection of ideas is visible in my writings.