So today I bought a notebook to keep as a commonplace book because every now and then, I get an idea that I'd like to write about, but more often than not I forget about the idea before I get the chance to write anything, or I write it on a scrap of paper and then lose it. After I got home, I was all proud of myself, because this is a way to keep my ideas organized so that I don't lose them. And if I don't lose them, maybe I can actually, you know, write something.
I've seen commonplace books written by poets—they tend to be very stray observations (maybe a line or two, an image, etc.) that are then built into larger works. So I kind of knew what I was shooting for.
And so I sat down and wrote out an idea that's been kicking in my head for a few months now. Then I wrote down a memory from a few years ago that might be related to it. Then I scratched something out and wrote a note in the beginning of the notebook about how, when I scratch something out, it's not to replace it, but rather to re-write it to correct spelling or to make the word more identifiable. Then I used the wrong word, didn't scratch it out—that would be against the rules—but added a bracketed note explaining what I should have said. Then I lamented—in writing—the fact that I didn't write down what was going on a few years ago so the memory would be clearer in my mind, and then added, "But on the other hand, who cares?"
In the end, what was supposed to be a quick jotting-down of an idea turned into five pages of rolling the thing around in my head, talking about what it might mean, making references to websites that provide information about the stuff I remember because I don't want to fail to give credit for information—even when it's the name of something I saw and then looked up years later just to make sure I got the name right in a notebook written for myself.
And then it clicked: why don't I ever get anything written? Because I'm apparently incapable of having an idea and writing it down without turning it into the Norton Critical Edition of My Damn Idea.