Tips for Beginning The Contact Sport of Annotation
- Start with books you love. I cannot stress this enough. If you want to dive into annotating and make it a habit, then start by going somewhere you love to be—your favorite book. You think you know everything about that book, but wait till you take a pen to it. You will find so many secrets.
- Look for patterns. Look for unexpected actions or words. Record your reactions and ideas because they matter so much and are so easy to forget. Write down all your ideas in margins. Even the ones that feel stupid. The paper doesn’t mind.
- Highlight passages that strike you, even if they aren’t pretty sounding. One of the most important passages in my annotation career was “Nice haircut.”
- Treat the book like a high stakes mystery, even if it’s the fluffiest plot imaginable.
- Most importantly: Annotate for yourself and nobody else. Don’t annotate because you think you have to, or to impress someone, even if it’s yourself. Annotate if when and because you want to. And don’t listen to me. My methods may not work at all for you. Find what works and don’t get discouraged if you aren’t hitting gold yet. You will.