Taking notes is an essential part of a student’s life. In the classroom, a seminar, a workshop, while reading a book, listening to an online lecture, or thinking something randomly, ideas worth noting can knock without notice. Are we always ready? In this article, I will share the best methods students of English literature can use to take meaningful, distinguishable, reusable, easily searchable, and helpful notes. Students of literature in any language may find this article helpful as well.
What you may be doing?
Usually, people take sketchy, scanty, scattered, and rough notes. These are good enough to show others you are concerned about what’s going on around you in the classroom or a seminar hall, or while reading a book. However, in terms of utility, you get nothing on your platter for the future (and when in need). In the end, what’s the use of rough notes? Think about it. And if you do it differently, I truly appreciate your care for taking notes! Do share your method of taking notes in the comments section.
What do you need to do?
When you go on a bike tour to Ayodhya, being prepared is the key. Imagine a scenario. You and your friends have reached Ayodhya. In the morning, you guys wish to go for the early Darshan of Ram Lalla. Now, when it comes to locating your dhoti, puja ki thali (a small dish in which we offer prasad, and other offerings to Deities we worship), and items to be kept in the thali, you don’t remember where you put those. Argh! Isn’t that messy? Isn’t that annoying? What could have been better? Having a small box with “Puja Items” written on it. Having a polybag with “Morning Wear” written on it. And this is the key! Be prepared before you sit down to take notes. Imagine yourself in a seminar on Ecocriticism. Prepare a page – Name of the speaker, the title of the paper, highlights of the presentation, and my observations. And this is your fantastic note that you can distribute among your friends to make them happy. Keep the papers safe, these are your secondary notes if you plan to do a PhD! The differentiator is not how you take notes, but how you organise your notes! Keep reading.
Notes may not help; POWERFUL notes will!
If you master the art of taking powerful notes and organising them in a way that you can easily recall them when in need, your studies in English literature will become convenient and more productive. Imagine having a detailed and organised note about a novel you read last year, with your observations, do you need anything else when it comes to doing a revision of the same novel? NO! Your notes will work as the much better version of Wikipedia. In addition, reading your notes will also remind you of the original text of the novel (because you must remember why you took such notes while going through the same later). The same goes with poetry, plays, essays, critical works, other forms of writing, speeches, videos, lectures and anything you can imagine taking notes about.
Notes are not some random lines, words, facts, or items we write in our notebooks (or on the books). Notes are the most important things we find in books, a lecture, or a discussion, and we must put them down likewise – by making categories.
Now, we will discuss the art of taking notes while interacting with different kinds of text – poetry, novels, plays, essays, letters, critical writings, and research papers.
By Alok Mishra