Getting hold of ideas while they are clear: note taking as a creative practice

I often come out of meetings feeling that what we’ve been discussing is utterly transparent to me. I feel I hold the issue in my hands, seeing how the initial steps connect to a broader horizon of action. It couldn’t feel more straight forward. However partly for that reason, I never take notes at the time. I often scribble stuff on a whiteboard, piece of paper or notebook file which vaguely captures my sense at the time before coming back to it a week or more later to find that what was lively has now become dead, what was transparent has now become opaque and what was in my grasp now feels alien to me.

It’s left me obsessing about the discipline involved in a note taking practice. I suspect I’d gain so much from forcing myself to spend twenty minutes quietly writing out long form notes after important meetings, before going on to other things. I’ve had this discipline for thinking for a long time. It varies depending on the time and energy available to me but I’ve trained myself over time to seize on what C Wright Mills called the feel of an idea and force myself to elaborate it while it’s fresh in my mind. The post you’re reading is an example of this. So why do I find it so much more difficult to get myself to do this with ideas which emerge in meetings?

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