Technology has not only changed the way we communicate, it has devastatingly altered the way we connect with others and even the way we connect with ourselves. Keyboards, touchpads and cellphone screens are efficient ways to capture a thought, share an idea or send a message. While efficient, they aren't necessarily the most effective. In many instances, technology prevents us from thinking deeper and more clearly.
People simply think and write differently when using a computer keyboard or mobile device than when they are using a pen and paper.
Never underestimate the power of a pen! When you are struggling with a particular problem, are frustrated that you can't break through a certain issue or are given an opportunity that you can't quite seem to grasp — grab a pen and a clean sheet of paper.
Sir Francis Bacon stated, "Reading maketh a full man, conference, a ready man, and writing, an exact man." Writing forces you to get more specific in your thoughts and more precise with your meaning. Writing creates clarity.
Such clarity is critical, particularly in an age when people get persuaded, even in their own thinking, by sweeping generalities instead of specifics. When we communicate in generalities, we very rarely succeed, but when we communicate in specifics with exactness, we very rarely fail.
With too few people knowing how to put together a proper letter or even an email, we have lost our ability to articulate our thoughts, ideas and feelings with such exactness. And I would note that the most important letters, memos and notes we ever write will be those we write to ourselves. I am most thankful to an older sister who drove, or maybe forced, me to put my pent-up thoughts, ideas and feelings on paper.
A few hundred characters are not going to help you express your vision or dream for the future. A quick-hit email won't help you process what is troubling your heart or inhibiting your relationship. A meme may make you laugh, or even cry, but will never have the power to transform the direction of your life.
C.S. Lewis wisely wrote, "Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing; ink is the great cure for all human ills."
When you find yourself discouraged or depressed, ink and paper can be your best friend and fastest path forward out of the darkness. There is something magical that occurs as the mind and hand work together to express thoughts and ideas — and it doesn't matter how poor your penmanship or how awful your spelling. Writing enables you to tap into different elements of your mind and consciousness that simply cannot be accessed any other way.
In our rush to the latest and greatest technology, we have left sitting on the desk one of the most significant powers available to overcome challenges or create success. It is true that ink is not only a great cure for all human ills, but also a passageway into the enlightened world of ideas and inspiration so needed to create the life we desire.
Many of the greatest thinkers I know are never more than a few feet away from a pad of paper and a pen. They want to make sure that a fleeting thought doesn't flit off into space. They take notes as they listen to others — not just to capture a detail or principle, but to extend a thought or even to ask a more meaningful follow-up question.
Several years ago I was emceeing a large conference in Florida. In preparation for the event I was scheduled to meet up with national pollster Scott Rasmussen so I could better introduce him as the keynote speaker the following day. As we sat down, I could see Scott staring a little longingly at my black leather notebook and the crisp white pages where I was taking notes. He then said, "I can see you actually believe in pen and paper. I have asked everywhere in this convention center for a pad of paper — none to be found!" He then asked, "Any chance you have an extra pad of paper I could borrow?" Of course I did and gladly obliged.
You could say we bonded over paper and pen. Our introduction meeting that was scheduled to last just 10 minutes went on for hours, and then days and weeks, led to an eventual book and a has fostered a great friendship.
If you are feeling a little bit of the blues, are trying to solve a difficult problem, are looking to gain clarity in your thinking or are struggling to capture the magic, energy and excitement you need to expand your vision, write — handwrite with a pen — and follow what flows from ink to paper and from paper to a reality.