My partner Roger wrote a blog two days ago about the pleasures of capturing thoughts and ideas with a fountain pen and yellow legal pad. His blog and mine that follows were the result of a conversation regarding my recent trip to China, for which I carried neither iPhone nor computer. Instead, I bought a small notebook and a mechanical pencil to capture my experiences during the three-week-long trip, and to take notes for my forthcoming book.
Like Roger, I love fountain pens. I used to write with one all the time before I began using word processing [and thus lost my handwriting skills]. A mechanical pencil, however, was an excellent choice for my trip notes, since I could erase mistakes and add new material. My trip notes, jotted down primarily for future use as blog material, ran to ten pages.
The beauty of writing by hand in a notebook is simple: I had it in my backpack, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice to jot things down. No digging out the computer, powering up, opening word processing, the file, yadda yadda. Even easier that trying to tap it out on the iPhone keyboard voice record, you say? No privacy. [Siri? Only available if you’re online].
But the greatest benefit is simply this: Your memories and thoughts remain vivid through the mind-to-hand process of recording them. I look at my notes and the experiences come flooding back like replaying a movie: the outstanding Japanese meal on JAL, the smell of the street food in Qindao, the scrape of the Shanghai barber’s straight razor.
Yes, of course I’m transferring the notes to a Word file. But once I’ve finished, they will be enriched by the transfer process. If you’re thinking about writing a book, catch your thoughts and ideas on the fly. Writing them down is a quick, easy way to preserve them. Don’t expect them to remain intact until you get back to your computer. And be sure to let us know how it’s going. We’re here to help.