To Scrapbook Or Not To Scrapbook, That Is The Question

The creative world is divided in many ways: asymmetric haircut/normal haircut; skinny jeans/bootcut jeans; steal ideas from Magma /steal ideas from YouTube etc.

But the one that dare not speak its name is keeping a scrapbook of useable idea snippets versus tapping the side of your head and saying ‘it’s all up there’.

I write as one who does the latter, partly because I’m not quite organised enough to keep a scrapbook and partly because I trust the ebb and flow of my brain, allied to whatever I’m experiencing at the moment.

However, I know of many others who keep several years of orderly clippings, random photos and yellowing newspaper articles in those blue hardback books, just waiting for the moment when their usefulness will spring into life.

But there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on which is better.

When I was at college, we were visited by Jim Bolton and Chas Bayfield of Blackcurrant Tango fame. At that stage, they had yet to make that particular work of genius, but they did show us a page of their portfolio that was just a series of little thoughts that might come in useful in future. One such thought was ‘a naked fat man running down a hill is funny’. I don’t know if that’s exactly where Blackcurrant Tango came from, but the relationship is close.

Then again, I once read an interview with John Hegarty where he explained that he didn’t think it was a good idea to keep scrapbooks because your brain then relied on those notes and didn’t work as hard to connect things in the generation of ideas.

I also recall the advice of a novelist who said that it was ridiculous to note your favourite little lines and metaphors for future use because you’d end up forcing them into situations where they didn’t really belong, and besides, you’d have to constantly look through your notes hoping for the right bon mot to make itself known just when you needed it.

Then again, I suppose there are other versions of the scrapbook, such as keeping fffound and Deputy Dog bookmarked for those times when your brain refuses to work. And the walls of my office have often been home to fading Post-Its that say ‘Beadle’s hand/Magimix’ or ‘Tit age vs real age’.

But I’m open to suggestions of technique improvement: do you have any unusual filing systems that you rely on to lead you to the promised land?