The Pen Is Mightier

Writing things down is something I've consistently left and gone back to through my life. 

One of my earliest childhood memories is wishing I had a notebook so that I could fill the endless fresh blank pages with whatever scribblings I chose. I didn't know that it was called a notebook, and didn't know how to ask for one: I just knew I had seen one, and I wanted one of my own. I kept opening my books hoping to find some surprise blank pages I hadn't noticed before. I finally settled for defacing one of my beloved Care Bears books. The book lover in me cringes about it now but hey, I learned out how to ask for things and also that we don't write in books.

Over the years I've dabbled with writing things down. I'm an obsessive list-maker. It makes me feel in control, and helps me get things done. I'm a lazy journaler, going through short bursts that have resulted in a sad collection of those much-desired notebooks with a few first pages filled, the rest still blazing white, waiting, often for years, for me to return.

I'm a blog dabbler. I've written about it all, in various places. Sometimes I have more to things to say than others. Maybe you've noticed. 

In college I was a furious note taker, a meticulous, neurotic student. It earned me a fancy GPA, but looking back on it I often wished I had been better able to find a balance between seeking perfection in my grades, and living in the moment. Perhaps I would've done better to sit back and listen in class, to take it in rather than try to write it all down. But I just didn't know any other way. When exam time came I'd study my notes, re-write them onto notecards, write outlines of essays I knew might come up on the test, then anxiously focus on remembering how to fill them in. I specifically remember one of my very last history finals my senior year of college: I walked in, saw the questions, immediately wrote down my outlines on some scratch paper, and banged it out in one of those little blue exam notebooks (You remember those, don't you?) like it was nothing. I aced it. It worked for me. 

Writing things down still works for me. It helps me assess data, it helps me feel organized. I don't know that I'll ever be able to go fully electronic for certain things. There's just something about putting pen to paper, and seeing it right in front of you. 

Recently one of my rowing coaches has been mentioning that we should start writing things down. Brief notes on our workout that day, coaching tips and points she's given us. To be able to review it, to help remember. Last week I finally started to actually do it, and it reminded me of why I love learning via writing. I also happened to stumble across this article, which let me know I'm in good company. And that this time I should really stick with the journaling. Writing this all out has reminded me that I should stick with the chilling out, too.

 Photo from npr.org.

Photo from npr.org.

"Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream?"