Your Scratchpad is a Wealth of Hidden Gems—Go Find Them!

Or, May your notebooks never rest in peace

Ellane W
2 min readSep 2, 2023

Did you know that stonemasons of old would sometimes use the base of the gravestone they were working on as a scratchpad of sorts? Check out these photographs of the end of grave markers most people never get to see:

A piece of stone with rough, poorly formed letters scattered upon it. We can see a number of w’s, an r, t, and several unfinished strokes.
Image from

Scratchpads can be paper or digital or foggy shower glass or a patch of hard dirt. Keep a Cutting Room Floor section at the end of your writing drafts, to encourage yourself to cut the finished result down to its finest bones without losing what couldn’t stay (this time).

I draft my writing in Obsidian, and have [[cutting room floor]] as a tag page at the end of each file. Clicking on that link creates a file that looks empty, until you check the backlinks! Then you’ll see all your loose treasures in one rich and inspiring list.

This is your invitation to keep a scratchpad of your own; a place you can write or draw free from thoughts about how it looks or sounds.

If you’re already in the scratchpad habit, go back through some of your past pages and look for a gem to pull out and make into a note in your knowledge management system. Here’s one of mine:



Ellane W

Designer and educational publisher for 30 years+. Plain-text advocate. Still using paper, but less of it.