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How to tap in to a neverending supply of interesting stories for emails
👉 this approach has been used since Marcus Aurelius
In my last email I talked about using stories - and in particular, stories about people - to keep your readers interested.
Where do these stories come from?
Sometimes you can do as I did last time and write about what’s happening to you right now.
Sometimes you can dive into your memories and share a story from your past.
But a great way to do it is to augment your memory with a commonplace book.
Commonplace books are simply books of notes you write down of anything that interests you. Quotes from books you read, funny stories you hear, things you see, ideas that strike you.
Some of the greatest thinkers and writers in history kept commonplace books. From Marcus Aurelius to Napoleon, Francis Bacon to Lewis Carrol, EM Forster to Bill Gates. Google "commonplace book” and you’ll find tons of references and examples.
I tend to capture stuff electronically in an app called Craft because my phone is pretty much the only thing I carry with me everywhere these days. But I’m coming to the realisation that the real value in jotting down ideas and notes comes from the regular process of reviewing and filing them.
It’s then that ideas begin to percolate. Connections are made. Memories are reinforced.
That doesn’t happen if you just capture ideas electronically and leave them.
With your commonplace book and archive to hand it becomes exponentially easier to start writing a newsletter. You just flick through it until a relevant note jumps out - and you’d be surprised how often something you put in the book not thinking it was relevant to much turns out to be perfect for what you’re working on.
There’s no set format or approach to commonplace books you have to use or which works universally best. You can just use anything that works for you. Or if you’re like me you can trawl the web for hours looking for the very best process and eventually go back to the idea that anything that works for you is fine.
If you’ve already got a commonplace book or similar on the go I’d love to hear about it. And if not, start one now and tell me about it soon.
My commonplace book is where I jot down ideas I get on best practices I notice for email templates. if you’d like to get the best of my thinking compressed into 5 brilliant templates you can adapt for your own emails each month then click here for details.