Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Does Writing Things Down Make You Smarter?



A recent post on about writing things down caught my eye. I asked the writer if I could have permission to use the first paragraph of his post to share with all of you on Rhodia Drive. I thought his ideas might spark some good conversation and insights from the group, on whether is notebook system, and writing things down vs. typing on a keyboard has additional benefits besides the pleasure of writing.   As our conversation progressed, I asked him if he would like to write about the topic on Rhodia Drive.  I am delighted to introduce Bob, from My Pen Needs Ink. Visit him there for other pens, paper and ink adventures.


Hello from a guest poster you may not recognize, though I hope to change that in the future.  I’m Bob and I blog over at about pens, paper, writing accessories and life experiences of a pen enthusiast.  I was honored to be asked by Karen to guest post here on Rhodia Drive about my use of project notebooks.  I hope to hear from you and get the opportunity to share experiences.

I think writing things down makes me smarter. OK, maybe not really smarter but at least a better retainer of information.  I have always had a To Do list personality but I get more benefit from penning thoughts than just writing tasks down and crossing them off later. I seem to retain knowledge better when I record my thoughts with ink on paper.  I have recently converted to a journal or notebook for each of the variety of projects that keep me busy.  The board of my home owners association, my daughter’s wedding, longer term home improvement projects and the like. These usually require meetings or visits outside my home or office whether it’s over lunch with my daughter or at the home center for that next piece of lumber.  I just grab the appropriate project notebook, my favorite pen and I’m ready.

One could successfully argue that the safety of paper notebooks is risky due to loss or damage but I would call it a wash since electronic media can crash, get damaged and get lost as well.

My preferred format is the side staple bound notebook with fountain pen friendly paper. The side staple format lays flat in my briefcase and stacks easily on the desk. Each notebook has a label on the front and the back courtesy of the little plastic tape label makers you can get at any of the office supply stores. Labeling front and back helps with quick retrievals when fumbling around in my briefcase.

All my entries start with a date and after that it’s free form.  It could be a contact phone number, a window treatment measurement, a drawing, a price quote or any type of information that is hard fro me to keep track of in the different formats of the electronic project management software/apps.

I’m not building space shuttles but for me juggling right at my capacity of what I want to do and what I need to do these notebooks work great for me.

What do you think? Have you found writing things down help build your knowledge base?

9 thoughts on “Does Writing Things Down Make You Smarter?

  1. I agree with everything here. When I write myself a reminder, often I do not need to look at it again. The only thing I would add is that I use the front pages as an index, like my bullet journal. Just takes a couple seconds to write down the item and page it is on. I hate looking thru pages for something. Yes, it does take some time to hand number the pages. I just number the bottom right corner of the right hand page every other number is adequate. I do not do them all at once, I do it while I am not doing anything else, on hold, boring conference call, TV, etc.

  2. Jackie

    Thanks for the resource. I have found myself starting to collect these indpendent studies from REAL experts to learn more about what I discover in my habits. I had not seen this you reference.

  3. Chrispian, Joni, Ashley, Beth and Borelek – Thanks for the kind words and confirming I’m not crazy. Or at least in this particular aspect of my life others share the same tendencies. Bob

  4. To put my opinion is beyond my english skills, but I can give the opinion of Thackeray : There is a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write

  5. I strongly believe in writing things down as a way to help memory and retention skills! And I know there are others out there who would agree with me! In Middle School, I was in Choir. I had been in Choir since Kindergarten. However, it was not until middle school that I firmly believed I had the best choir teacher around (no matter how strict he was). See, when we did concerts, there was NO sheet music to read from. Nothing to look at. So there would be MANY days where we were required to write out the lyrics at least once, if not multiple times, or each song we were to sing. It was tedious. But I see, now, why he had us do it. Memory retention. And since I am a visual or hands on learner, having me write words down, just made a visual picture in my head with the lyrics.

    I am strong in the belief that if you write things down, it not only make you smarter, but helps with memory retention. I would like to believe that it might even help fight Alzheimer.

  6. This is essentially what I do in my planner at work. I can’t begin to tell you how valuable it has proven to me. Pen & paper rule!

  7. Bob, Nice post! Congrats on the guest post. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you pop up in more and more places.

    I use mine in a similar fashion. I have one for work (sometimes more than one if a project is big enough), one for designs for things I want make, blogging notes, daily jotter, etc. Most of them stay home unless I need them, though I usually have 5-6 in my bag at any given time. And I live out of my bag. It’s always with me. Which is good because I also carry way too many pens. Sounds like I’m in good company!

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