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Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Approach to Note Taking

I take my notes directly in the text of the article I am writing, rather than taking notes on my reading before I begin writing. I will often read without taking notes at all, because it is time-consuming. Later I can go back and remember what the really significant points were, or find the relevant quotations. A lot of reading, unfortunately, is defensive. You might be going through a book just to make sure it's not relevant. You pick up extra knowledge that way, but really it's rapid reading designed to cover your bases.

Since I work on poetry, mostly, I know the poems I'm going to use pretty much by memory. I'm sure if I worked on the novel I would have to take notes on plots and characters in a more systematic way.


Clarissa said...

"You might be going through a book just to make sure it's not relevant."

-Oh yes. Many many times has this happened to me. I even reread books that I read before and found useless. Just to make completely sure that they are, indeed, useless.

Andrew Shields said...

I often tell my students that they should use how well something is written as a criterion for whether to bother with it. The only exception should be the badly written thing that everybody refers to -- and then it's just waiting to be debunked!