What Do You Do with Old Notebooks? Part II

This post is a continuation of What Do You Do with Old Journals?  If you have boxes of notebooks or if you are just beginning to accumulate a stack, you have probably thought at least in passing, what you might do with those books.  Keep?  Throw-Out?  If you missed that post, please give it a look before continuing on.  This section deals with what to look for when you reread or skim through your old stacks. 

What to Look For:

  1. Writing ideas—You probably have ideas scattered throughout your books.  Some may be labeled as “writing ideas” and some of your writing may ignite a new idea for a book, play or story.  Capture it.    
  2. Memories—This is an important one!  Many of my journal entries are about family events, holidays, a conversation, or an ordinary day.  You may want to capture some of these to keep and others you may be ready to let go of.
  3. Dreams—On and off over the years, I have written down my dreams in the mornings.  Sometimes, elements of those dreams come true, or show up again in my life in some way.  Other times, I have had a dream that feels very meaningful to me, and I don’t want my original impression of it to be lost.
  4. Sparks—Many times, my notebooks and journals captured ideas that felt very exciting and inspired to me.  I call those ideas sparks because they spark action and energy and passion.  Of course, it’s not possible to act on every spark the moment you get it, but I don’t want those ideas to be lost.  Looking through old notebooks gives me another chance to find those special ideas or inspiration and revisit them.
  5. Words from The Lord—I believe in prophecy.  I believe that God still speaks—directly to me at times, through his word, through ministers and prophets, and who or whatever he chooses to you.  I work to capture those special words from the Lord in my journals and notebooks and I definitely want to save those. 

The list above is what I would be looking for.  You might have some additional categories to add.  It’s also very possible that once I got a few notebooks in, I might find a new category or topic that I want to look for, and that is fine and to be expected.  Once you have gone through your notebook, you can decide if you are ready to discard it, or if you want to save it.  This is a personal choice that each person has to make for herself.  You may be ready to discard some and want to save some.

For those you decide to keep consider the following tips:

  1. Make an index for the notebook.  You can add a sheet with the index and tape it in, or if you have a large cardboard cover, you can make the index on the back or front cover. 
  2. To make the index, number all of the pages in the book.
  3. Then, go through and write down what’s on each page.  You will need to do some categorizing.  If you include lots of different types of writing in your journal, you will likely have lots of topics and non-consecutive pages in your index.  This is similar to the index of a bullet journal, and it works really well, for finding specific topics quickly.  To help you visualize, this, your Index might look something like this:

pp. 1-4, 22-32, 40-45                                                                                       morning pages, May 2012

pp. 5, 46-50, 70-72-74-80                                                                              writing practice/exercises

pp. 5-10, 17, 80-82                                                                                           prayers/dreams

pp. 18, 51-54, 83-90                                                                                        scenes for Christmas play

  • Detail the cover with the dates and main categories of the book and a few personal details such as where you were living during the dates the notebook covers.  It is also very helpful to include the date of your review. 

Once you’ve followed the guide above, you can continue to store the notebooks in a more organized manner.  You might want to go through them again at some point and glean some more ideas or gems, or after doing it once, you may be ready to say goodbye to those handwritten pages. 

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