Why smart people carry pencils?

 For almost 4,500 years books were handwritten in ink mixtures with no way of correcting errors. The pencil has changed the world with its presence encompassing 500 years of solid history from the discovery of graphite blocks in England to the refinement of the graphite and clay mixture invented in France and still used today. If you’ve ever pondered something important or dreamed of creating your own business while daydreaming the intricacies of the endeavor, then you need a pencil.  Famed company and notebook maker Field Notes has a quote that states “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.”  So in the words of Field Notes…

Write it down now.

Let’s be honest your memory in its entirety has no place being the relied upon method for retaining information. In short, your memory sucks. How many times have you forgotten someones name immediately after they told you. How often do you read an article and can’t recall the details but know the overall point. I’d like you to remember what it’s like being a student. Going to class without a pencil was a sin. It has been documented that students who have hand-written notes have better recall come test time, so why on earth would we forego a pencil during your daily life. Unless you’re Nikola Tesla or have extensive knowledge surrounding the use of mnemonics, then a pencil should be your go to method for encoding your most important thoughts.


It begins with a pencil

Want to know why Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, and J. Cole are known for compelling lyrics and unrivaled storytelling abilities? Want to know why Thomas Edison always carried a special made #2 pencil in his breast pocket?  Do you think it was a coincidence that Henry David Thoreau owned a pencil company with his family before becoming the famous author, historian, poet and philosopher that we know him as today? The greats knew the secret to success. Leaders in the field of philosophy, psychology, architecture, psychics and anything other the obvious craft of writing all honed their genius through the art of translating their mental thoughts and images to the written word. Theirs no difference in the wiring of the brain between these greats and that of yours. It’s a simple matter of the habitual use of a pencil to record your most important thoughts. Mr. Antolini in J.D. Salinger’s classic novel “The Catcher in the Rye” sums this fact up very well ‘I’m not trying to tell you,’ he said, ‘that only educated and scholarly men are able to contribute something valuable to the world. It’s not so. But I do say that educated and scholarly men, if they’re brilliant and creative to begin with — which, unfortunately, is rarely the case — tend to leave infinitely more valuable records behind them than men do who are merely brilliant and creative’.

Put on your reading list now!

For every situation deserves a pencil

We judge people by the most superficial inconsequential aspects everyday. Why not judge individuals based on the issue that matters most. Does this individual carry a pencil to actively record their most important thoughts and events. You want to impress at a job interview? Carry a pencil and let the interviewer know how important it is to learn from the experience. Want to find out if you should continue to date that new someone? On the next date ask that person if they have a pencil, see what they say. You may find yourself asking why is this important? Individuals who don’t carry pencils most likely don’t have goals. Ask them where they see themselves in 5 years, 1 year, or 3 months even. What to look for here is whether or not they had to think about it. People with pencils have written goals and aspirations that they can refer to at any minute. They don’t leave their day up to chance, it has already been planned. You will find that people without pencils are the same people who prefer jobs of a monotonous nature. Simply speaking they don’t have to think.

Start now

Your memory will only take you so far. Do yourself a favor and form the habit of writing! Start by writing down your intellectual experiences. Continue to write down new goals and aspirations. Find the man or woman of your dreams by choosing those who leave records. Bring a pencil to your next meeting or interview and watch as they take you more seriously. Success is closer than you think. Creating this simple habit will bring clarity and direction for the rest of your life.  Lastly, do you want to make sure that new employee or person of romantic interest is really worth taking the risk on? See if they bring paper too. 😉notIntellectual

Bonus: Keeping a Coding Journal

The most important thing I have done on my journey to becoming a competent coder was to start a coding journal. I use this journal to keep track of the worst bugs I’ve encountered, syntax meaning, code snippets and much more. This journal has been the inspiration for this article and my driving force on writing down whats most important, my thoughts. So code newbies to inspire the next phase in your coding journey here are a few excerpts from my coding journey from my recent battle with PHP sessions. Hopefully this will convince you to carry your own coding journal to keep track of all your wins and losses.



4 Replies to “Why smart people carry pencils?”

  1. Chris —
    I really like this format! Short paragraphs with pertinent headers (I may occasionally steal a march on you with this one!)

    The pencil is mighty. That and a small notebook in your pocket are indispensable. The geeks among us (like me) are even picky about the right pencil and the right notebook – Palomino Blackwing 502’s and a small Moleskine. It’s a writerly thing, but it makes a difference to us.

    The Field Notes quote is one I’m going to hold on to – exactly spot on. I’ve always known that’s how I remember things, but never heard it expressed so succinctly.

    Our/my memory does indeed suck. There’s just no way around it. It may have something to do with training, as you noted in an earlier post. I’ve gotten out of the habit of memorizing literary passages and poetry, but now I am inspired to get back to it. By the way, good use of the oft ignored word ‘mnemonic.’ Excellent word…

    And finally, everybody ought to carry a journal. Fleeting thoughts, ideas, phrases, things others say to us should go in there for future reference or just to make them somehow more immediate. Thanks for being willing to show us yours – it’s daunting for you, but encourages the rest of us.

    Keep at it! This is a great post full of good points, great quotations and a fine format. You are demonstrating great growth which I suspect also shows up in your efforts to learn coding. You have to be able to write in order to be able to think. I see your thought process in the writing.

    — Sam


  2. Thanks Sam. I meant to show you my Moleskine today. It is my most indispensable possession. In another blog post I want to touch on techniques for improving recall. I’ve been exploring a lot about the art of learning in my quest to improve and keeping a journal is a very important aspect.


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