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Pondering with pen and paper

Pondering with pen and paper

2022-08-04 06:36:27

Obsidian, Notion, Evernote, I’ve tried them
all. With the deluge of note-taking and information administration apps all over the place, it
feels good to return to my desk, decide up a sheet of paper, seize my pen, and
begin writing my ideas down. There’s a serene feeling each time I work with
these analog instruments, and it’s a pleasant complement to my software program job.

On this weblog put up, I’ll focus on why I get pleasure from working with my “analog instruments for
I’ll discuss it in three dimensions—simplicity,
intentionality, and historicity. Notice that this put up isn’t a slight to
digital apps and techniques; I do use them, they usually additionally embody the identical
qualities, simply executed in a different way. I hope this entices you to begin placing
extra intention when considering with pen and paper.

Easier interface

First, I’d wish to differentiate between instruments and techniques. Instruments are
devices to realize one thing, and techniques are the group of such.
The desk under illustrates this idea.

  Instruments Programs
Analog Interface Notebooks, pen, paper, sticky notes Bullet journaling, focus planners, Zettelkasten (slip-box)
Digital Interface Obsidian, RoamResearch, Notion, Emacs org-mode, Notepad, Evernote Zettelkasten (slip-box), productiveness integrations, and so on.

You should utilize the identical system even when the software is digital or analog.
Zettelkasten is an efficient instance.
It began as a bodily slip-box (pen and paper) and is now broadly utilized in most
private information administration (PKM) frameworks at the moment. Programs may be
intrinsically difficult, and I argue that utilizing digital instruments can compound
this complexity

Pen and paper is, properly, pen and paper! There’s only a one-to-one
correspondence between me and the software. Generally, I discover digital apps urging me
to combine with one other software or extension: connect with calendar, set up
this, set up that (and positive, it could even be my very own rattling fault). They
drive me to get right into a “system” slightly than deal with what the software supplies.
It’s overwhelming. Over-optimization results in empty work, giving me a
feeling of productiveness within the absence of output
, like
It hampers me from doing precise work.

My work pocket book (Midori Pocket book A5).

The simplicity of pen and paper permits me to form my system as I am going alongside.
Mine’s fairly plain: an A5 pocket book for work, a smaller pocket book for
journalling, and a pen. I like to consider ideas as streaming
, so I don’t have to tag and categorize them as we do with batched
knowledge. As a substitute, utilizing time as an index and sticky notes to mark slices of information
solves most of my use instances.

Graph notebooks like Obsidian consider data as
batched knowledge. So you’ve got a set of notes (samples) that you simply attempt to
mixture, categorize, and join. Positive there’s a use case for that: I can’t
think about an organization wiki introduced as streaming data! However I don’t assume it aids
me in how I often assume. When considering with pen and paper, I choose managing
streamed data first, then changing it into batched data
later— a weblog put up, documentation, and so on.

Sparks intentionality

I discover writing a aware effort. There’s bodily exertion in every stroke:
my muscular tissues tense, my fingers information the pen, and I really feel the friction because it
interacts with the paper. One factor that I admire when writing on paper is
that I really feel extra current. It alerts my mind that this exercise is not only
typing or writing, however considering.

Positive, there are tradeoffs; generally, I feel sooner than I write, however I see
this as a characteristic: it forces me to write down the salient features of my
. Then again, it’s fairly straightforward to fall into
senseless writing when utilizing a keyboard. It’s even simpler to fall into the
temptation of copy-pasting from the supply materials. The inflow of data,
coupled with the comfort of note-taking apps, makes it simpler to gather
slightly than synthesize.

My notebooks for journalling since 2018 (Rhodia Webnotebooks).

Maybe that is why Zettelkasten labored properly in the course of the time of bodily
slip-boxes. Info was not low-cost. You must bodily go to a library,
borrow some books, spotlight necessary passages, and return them on the finish of the day.
Positive, you may copy paragraphs phrase per phrase, however the bodily exertion of
writing can tire you down. So as an alternative, you’ll paraphrase or synthesize that
data. It turns into a necessity than a tenet. When considering with pen and
paper, I really feel intentional.

Analog instruments additionally enable me to categorical my intention freely. For instance, when
utilizing a clean pocket book, I can write anyplace: start from the underside, on the
margins, or intersperse it with fast diagrams or illustrations. On the opposite
hand, note-taking apps often drive me to assume line by line. It’s not dangerous, however
it misses out on a number of affordances that pen and paper supplies.

I like writing on clean paper (pen and ink: Lamy 2000 and Aurora Black).

Supplies historical past

Writing with ink captures greater than phrases. It captures my temper and my errors.
I keep in mind in my faculty chemistry lessons, we have been instructed by no means to tear off
or disguise any error we made in our lab notebooks. As a substitute, we must always mark it with
a strikethrough. I introduced this follow as much as this present day, and it’s good to see
the small corrections, marginalia, and scribbles representing the unrefined
components of my thought course of.

I’m the one one who can learn my penmanship.

See Also

It’s enjoyable to return to my outdated notes and say: “Oh, I used to be slightly bit confused
once I wrote this down.”
There’s an archival factor in it that digital codecs
can’t seize. Positive, it’s a little bit of a attain to say that my written notes are
higher for preserving my ideas—in the event that they acquired misplaced or burned down, then it’s
all gone. What I’m speaking about right here is the written observe’s capability to
encapsulate “what actually occurred”
in the course of the time I thought of a specific
concept. In a textual content editor, every little thing is diminished to the identical font, sterilizing
these particulars away.

I’ll gladly pay for an software or service with the affordances of writing in
pen and paper whereas permitting me to again my notes up within the cloud. Nonetheless, I
agree that lifetime archival is a tradeoff I’ve to pay. These days, I’ve been
utilizing a fountain pen with archival ink. The sort of ink is waterproof and
ensures that my writing received’t fade over time. Generally, I simply don’t let this
stress me out, and I go for the inks I really like and luxuriate in. My notes include
streaming data, in any case.

My pens via the years (from left to proper: Lamy 2000, TWSBI ECO, Pilot Metropolitan).

Ultimate ideas

I wrote this weblog put up as a love letter to my analog writing devices.
They’re nearly invisible; they’re simply there, serving to me in my information work.
Due to that, I’ll have spoken strongly towards different digital techniques–don’t
elevate your pitchforks; I exploit them too! These days I exploit
Obsidian and Zotero; the latter a
by-product of my grad faculty days. Nonetheless, I attempt to go towards the frequent PKM
practices and I exploit them to bookmark data.

However ultimately, the very best considering system is the one which works for you. I can’t
actually say if I’ve been extra productive with pen and paper, I simply discover it extra
frictionless and pleasant, and that’s sufficient. I additionally talked about
Zettelkasten many instances on this put up, however I don’t do this anymore—I simply
did a 1-month dry run and it felt tiring. Pen and paper simply offers me the naked
I can get straight to work and not worry if something is a
literature note or a permanent

As an engineer, I really like making issues difficult (winks). You’ll discover that
I’m utilizing fountain pens with this ink, and a pocket book with that paper-grade.
However the benefit of pen and paper is that these devices are usually not
essential. I do it as a result of it’s enjoyable! And also you don’t must (though belief me,
fountain pens modified my writing expertise).

On the planet of productiveness porn, it sounds edgy to say “I exploit pen and paper.”
I imply, it’s simply pen and paper! But when we’re optimizing for emotions,
I’ll say that I discover essentially the most delight when considering with pen and paper. I hope
you do too!

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