Write it down.



Dame: the things you think you will remember, because they are so clear, so important, so essential and obvious—write them down, because in three weeks’ time, after the next round of grading and/or commitee meetings and/or intervention of personal life, you will not remember them.  They will no longer be obvious.  The Former Self who knew what they were will be gone with the wind, and the Current Self will be clueless.  So do your Future Self a favor and write it down, whatever it is.  Preferably in at least two places: say, teaching journal and personal journal, or daily calendar and research journal, or document-of-progress in a project and somewhere else for good measure.

Write the swyvere down.

This post brought to you by an Inquisition Post Mortem coughed up by the National Archives, three weeks after I requested a copy (not previously photographed); the top lines are damaged, so the opening formulae are very difficult to read.  I knew I’d requested an estimate for getting some document, and that I’d gone ahead and ordered it when the estimate came through.  However, in the intervening three weeks, I had completely forgotten what this document might be, and could find no reference to it in my research journal, the most obvious word-processed documents of notes about manuscript owners and their friends and relations, or my personal journal.  No doubt after I finally transcribe it all, I will find some cryptic reference in a place I did not think to look.  But if I had just written myself a note about what-all I had ordered, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble this morning.  This is what I have a research journal for, so why didn’t I use it?

Resolution #1 for the new year: write it down.

7 thoughts on “Do as I say, not as I do

  1. Good advice– and I am totally adopting swyvere as my expletive of choice next time I don’t write something down.

  2. Truer words never spoken. I discovered this at 24 on my first research trip, was having trouble getting into archives and very concerned I would fail and be accused of not having tried hard enough by the funding committee.

    So, I started a log of daily activities and soon realized that even before I got into archives (which I finally did) I was actually getting a lot done. And my *ideas* progressed because of keeping the log.

    I still have it because although I got my first article out of that trip I have still not used everything I found.

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