An actual Waste Book process


Georg Lichtenberg used his Sudelbücher to scribble down random thoughts, to-do lists, witticisms, notes for larger projects, some (but not all) of which were then transferred to his actual work.  He got the idea from English merchants—he was a lifelong Anglophile—who would jot down transactions during the hurly-burly of daily business in a "waste book" and then transfer them neatly into their account books when the day was done.

He carried a Sudelbücher with him at all times for this purpose, and so do I.

In fact, I have multiple WASTE BOOKS.  I carry one with me for general scribbling, but then I also have a dedicated Waste Book for each major project: Lichtenbergianism, SUN TRUE FIRE, Burning Man, Christmas Carol, and so on.  In each, I write down ideas, sketch plans, and generally keep my ideas together. 

Often I will do the actual Waste Book thing, where an idea will occur to me on the road and I jot it down in my general Waste Book and transfer it later to a project Waste Book.  Mostly though I do my thinking and planning directly in the project books.


Now, however, I have a Lichtenbergian Proposed Effort (which we usually call "goals," although they're not really), a very large theatre production that is going to be too huge for a Waste Book, or even a series of Waste Books (like my Burning Man books).

So I'm falling back on Lichtenberg's actual process: I have a Waste Book for the project, but then I have a big notebook for the actual production plans.  (I'm being coy about the name of the project because it hasn't been publicly announced yet, but savvy readers won't have any trouble identifying the theatre piece I'm working on.)

Using my trusty Field Notes notebook, I can jot down ideas, notes, reminders, etc., at random, knowing I can come back to them later or transfer them to the actual production notebook.

(That is Abigail, my Assistive Feline™, on the left.  Every artist should have one; they are vital in providing opportunities for Task Avoidance.)

(That is Abigail, my Assistive Feline™, on the left.  Every artist should have one; they are vital in providing opportunities for Task Avoidance.)

In the production notebook, I can sort out my thoughts on each scene, making notes on staging, cast, technical issues (costumes, props, lights, set, etc.), and other issues. 

The production notebook is itself a more involved Waste Book, of course.  All those ideas I'm jotting down will then get transferred into set designs, costume plates, action items, stage directions, and all the madness that goes into producing a play as complex as this one.

You will be hearing more about this process as I spend the year preparing to audition and direct the show next year at this time.  After the Newnan Theatre Company announces their 2017-18 season on the Gala on Jan 21, I'll be free to be more open about what I'm working on, and then I'll show how Lichtenbergianism works in a complex creative project from beginning to end.