Ryan Holiday on the Pleasures of Reading and Keeping a Commonplace Book

picture-238129Ryan Holiday is a media strategist and author. His books include Ego is the Enemy, The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, and Growth Hacker Marketing.

Besides being a voracious reader, Ryan writes a lot. And he attributes his productivity to keeping a commonplace book. To learn more, check out the following links.

How and Why to Keep a Commonplace Book

“A commonplace book is a central resource or depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations and information you come across during your life and didactic pursuits. The purpose of the book is to record and organize these gems for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, speaking or whatever it is that you do.”

Everyone Should Keep A Commonplace Book: Great Tips From People Who Do

“I understand my method [of keeping a commonplace book] is a little unique — it was taught to me by a rather unique person. But I am very encouraged to see that other people have their own unique way of recording the wisdom they come across in their own lives, in their own reading and during the course of the work…. Whether you use notebooks or notecards or Evernote, a commonplace book is a fantastic idea that I promise will improve your life.”

The Notecard System: The Key For Remembering, Organizing And Using Everything You Read

“This isn’t the perfect system. It might not work for you. All I can say is that since learning it about 7 years ago, it has totally transformed my process and drastically increased my creative output. It’s responsible for helping me publish three books in three years, (along with other books I’ve had the privilege of contributing to), write countless articles published in newspapers and websites, send out my reading recommendations every month, and make all sorts of other work and personal successes possible.”

How I Did Research For 3 New York Times Bestselling Authors (In My Spare Time)

“If you want to be able to make compelling case for something — whether it’s in a book, on a blog, or in a multi-million dollar VC pitch — you need stories that frame your arguments, rich anecdotes to compliment tangible examples, and impressive data so you can empirically crush counter arguments…. But good research doesn’t just magically appear. Stories, anecdotes and data have to be found before you can use them.”

How I Wrote Three Books in Three Years

“Because I am always researching, I have somewhere close to 10,000 cards on various themes. Each potential book, once it gets enough cards, gets its own box. And I just bought a box for my next book … before the paint is even dry on this new one.”

How To Read More — A Lot More

“Even though I read hundreds of books every single year, I actually read quite slow. In fact, I read deliberately slow, so that I can take notes (and then whenever I finish a book, I go back through and transcribe these notes for my version of a commonplace book.”

Marginalia, The Anti-Library, And Other Ways To Master The Lost Art Of Reading

“Even if you are not a writer, having stories and quotes ready at hand will always come in useful, whether it is in conversations, presentations, memos, pitches, etc. Always strive to return back to the purpose of it. As the Roman philosopher Seneca said, we need to read so that ‘words become works.’”

What Matters: Information Vs. Knowledge Vs. Experience

“…there is a dark side to this glut of free information. It’s enabled a whole industry of self-help gurus, life coaches, and social media marketers to sell snake oil to the masses, tricking people—people who genuinely want to improve their lives—into thinking they can get something for nothing…. knowledge requires more than just books and instruction. It requires experience. It needs the interplay–the back and forth feedback loop–between theory and practice, hypothesis and results, ideas and action.”

Print Out Good Advice And Put It Where You Work (You Won’t Be Able To Run Away From It)

“Today, I have three quotes printed and framed above my desk…. One reminds me about how to live, one reminds me what to think about as a businessman and entrepreneur, the other reminds me what to think as a writer. At different times they have meant different things to me but they are reminders I need always.”