Many people with traumatic or unusual life experiences, such as myself, turn to drugs or substance abuse. I turned to writing. And in doing so, I have amassed copious notes based on life experiences and things I have read, learned, written about, and experienced. As humans, our entire existence is constantly subject to change, and the need for documentation has become necessary for us to make the most of our time.
Questions that is frequently asked of me are what are the things that deserve notation or documentation in ones life? This is a very unique question that requires a lot of introspection as to what is important in ones life, and perhaps more importantly, what things need to be preserved and/or documented for a long period of time?
As it turns out, I am not the only one who has struggled with the age-old question of what is important, and greater still, what should I write about that hasn’t yet already been written about numerous times?
My father kept notes for work and employment purposes, yet never found the time to write about anything having to do with his personal life. Having realized this long after the memories had faded, he encouraged me to take notes on every facet of my life I felt was important to remember. Here are a few things in my life that I feel are important to document.
I took notes on everything I observed, even from a very early age. As soon as I learned how to write, I started to take written notes. Though before learning to write, I would sit and record observations on audio tape with my father. Sadly, few written pages or audio tapes have survived since then. I recently posted a comment on this post about some of those childhood observations.
Typically, taking notes is something that is an individual pursuit based upon ones individual needs and desires. Alternatively, there are situations where group-based notetaking is necessary, but these situations are beyond the scope of this article.
Important things to write down include, but are not limited to the following. As an aside, as I am a non-fiction writer, these guidelines are for non-fictional pursuits, though they might be used for fiction as well. Use the classic who, what, when, and where when taking notes.
- Who? Names of people, places, things, objects, etc.
Be sure to write down who you were with, using their full names, if possible. You never know when this kind of information will be useful, if not critical at a later point in time.
- What? The purpose for the entry.
So if it was important enough to write down, what exactly was it? Use as much detail as is necessary to help refresh your memory if it is necessary. Ideally, include multimedia such as photography, video, audio recordings, etc, if possible.
- When? Timing is everything!
The date of entries is important, especially for notes taken that record live events. Ideally, one should also record the time of day, but such accuracy is usually unnecessary. I make it a point to record the exact time of day because I tend to make multiple entries in my notebook every single day.
- Where? Location, Location, Location!
I was the very first person I knew to own a GPS receiver. The purpose was to note locations of events in my writing notebook with extreme accuracy. This is perhaps the reason why many of the articles presented here are also tagged with geographical information.
It may sound like a lot of things to write down, but preparedness and overdocumentation will be beneficial later on. Trust me.