There is something to physically writing things on paper. There's research regarding this, that the human brain better remembers and processes things when they are written on paper versus typing.

I'm finding that myself writing out notes and outlines more these days, despite a long practice of being digital. I might have an outline of a class in digital form, but I still enjoy jotting down a few notes or quotes. There's something more pleasurable about the writing, something more free form and empowering about a blank sheet of a paper and a good writing instrument. Digital notes are so powerful for their storage and search capability, but the irony is I rarely use these things.

Marie Kondo has taught us to not store things, since they are forgotten and become irritating clutter. Might the same apply to notes, outlines, and ideas? I rarely found Evernote as helpful as I thought, except for the occasional owner's manual. I rarely found what I thought was in there, or needed what I stored. I either misremembered it, or had filed it somewhere else. So what's the point?

Baron Fig makes some great notebooks. The Vanguard Plus notebook gives you 7" x 10" of glorious space, double that if you have the notebook fully open. Their Squire pen is a real pleasure, it just feels great with its crisp marks. There is a visceral pleasure with these devices that a keyboard and mouse simply don't provide. The Field Notes are great, especially the Byline model with its fantastic paper.

I do take a picture of important bits of notes from these notebooks – if you've ever lost one (or had it in a pocket, and then washed those pants), you know how disappointing that is. But there is something to the process of physical writing that makes it worthwhile, despite these risks. The immediacy, fun, and focus of longhand writing has surprised me in a time of Dropbox and iCloud.

AuthorKevin Taylor