I was sitting down at the river the other day with my journal & pens & current book I’m studying.
And I thought I’d take some photos and share with you how I am studying it.
Before you keep reading, can I tempt you with a wee podcast recording to go along with this blog?
Now! On with the show!
The book is Deep Work by Cal Newport. And I have a feeling that it is going to be one of those books that will radically transform my year ahead, and the years that follow. It’s that important. That useful. That profound.
I read most books on Kindle. If they are non-fiction and I need to take notes from it, I highlight them, and also email myself quotes from it from within the Kindle interface. I’m reading Cal’s Digital Minimalism on Kindle, along with How To Break Up With Your Phone and I am pretty happy with that method for those books.
Every so often though, a book comes along, and I want to suck the marrow out of it.
So that’s what I’m doing with Deep Work. I started reading it on Kindle, and quickly stopped to order the printed book. I want to treat it like a textbook, and immerse myself in it. I don’t want to read it quickly. I want to let it change me.
I don’t keep many books once I’ve finished reading them. I give them to friends or take boxes to charity. With books like this though, I will keep in my office on a small shelf of Books That Changed Me.
I’m carrying it with me everywhere I go – around the house, and in my bag. I read it a page or two at a time, highlighting and taking notes in the margins as I go.
I carry with me a five pack of highlighters, and one of those four-colour pens, and use ALL OF THE COLOURS.
Partly because I like rainbows.
Partly because when I was in year 12, my boarding school headmistress (hi Trish!) told me she’d just learned in a study skills course that using different colours helps with memory retention. And I have no idea if research backs it up, but I’ve been doing it ever since, and it’s a very useful (and pretty) placebo that I am quite attached to.
I use these Zebra Mildliners for highlighting – they are like traditional highlighters but more pastel and less likely to gauge out your eyes with NEON INTENSITY. I bought these a few years ago online and they were the only pastel highlighters on the market, but I’ve noticed Stabilo has brought out a range of pastel ones too. LONG LIVE PASTEL HIGHLIGHTERS.
I was thinking to myself that if I’d still been on social media, I would have either:
- Not taken these photos because I didn’t want to destroy the sanctity of the moment by sharing on social media
- Or told myself I SHOULD be sharing something on social media, and taken photos out of grinding resentment, and not shared a long post about it like this because:
- Instagram has a word limit
- Typing on phones is shit
- I hate how the number of comments or likes diminishes both mine and the reader’s experience of that work
- Social media has never been the environment for my best work.
So very many reasons and feelings, and none of them feel good.
And instead of all this resentment and dissatisfaction and limitations, I thought:
OOOH I COULD BLOG ABOUT THIS. AND TAKE SOME NICE PHOTOS. AND WRITE AS MUCH AS I WANT FOR AS LONG AS I WANT USING MY BELOVED KEYBOARD. AND IT WILL LIVE ON MY WEBSITE FOREVER.
And it made me very happy indeed.
And here’s the thing: it doesn’t particularly matter if you love this or not. Because I’m proud of it. And I’m glad I’ve written it.
And that’s more than enough.
This whole giving up social media and returning to blogging feels like a reclamation of my creativity. Blogging has always been the best environment for my words. It is fertile ground, expansive and possible and powerful. And 100% owned by me.
What a joy indeed.
I am sending you so much love,
P.S. In yesterday’s letter, I asked for a clothing recommendation after many fruitless hours of searching. And of course, beautiful humans wrote in. And of course, they knew exactly where I needed to go. Because OF COURSE. Y’all have the answers. I feel so lucky.