I love technology. Like anyone else my age, I live on the internet. I carry my smartphone everywhere I go and I've been known to unironically sit in hipster coffee shops typing on my Macbook some afternoons.
But I've been burned by technology before. I know all too well the devastation of losing everything when your hard drive decides to have a sudden meltdown or you lose your iPhone in a bar (this was in the days before iCloud backups and Dropbox).
I also realized as a college student that my brain doesn't retain the stuff I type quite as well as it retains the things I write by hand. After one professor banned use of technology in the classroom and forced us all to take notes the old fashioned way, I never looked back. Something about using your hands to write words on paper creates an imprint in your head in a way that just doesn't happen when the letters appear on the screen at the press of a key.
So for years I've relied primarily on paper and pen to organize my life. I love a good paper planner. Writing in a planner is a habit I got into in middle school when several of my teachers created a rule that you weren't allowed to exit the classroom until you showed them you had written your homework assignments down in your school-provided planner. Before smartphones, this was the way of the world. As a grad student a couple of years ago (that's a story for another day) I bought a nice Filofax and I've used it religiously to write down all of my appointments, work schedule, deadlines, events, whatever. It makes me feel more organized and helps me remember everything I have going on, even if I don't have that much going on.
I decided to take that idea and expand it into my writing career recently. When I first got hired on at Void I splurged on one of those fancy Moleskine notebooks. Soft flexible cover and dot-grid pages, with a nice little ribbon bookmark. I started writing all of my article ideas and other random thoughts down in that notebook. It comes with me to meetings, it comes with me when I interview people, it comes with me to the hipster coffee shops and hair appointments and the beach and pretty much everywhere. When a thought or idea strikes, a word or a question or a name I might need to remember, I write it down. Every article I write begins as a few scribbles in my notebook. My writing is sloppy and I cross a lot of stuff out and draw arrows all over the place and write in whatever color pen I happen to have on me (I seem to own a lot of purple pens somehow). The inside of my notebook looks a little bit like the inside of my mind looks.
I've even been writing lists of books I want to read, noting their call number for future reference in the library, writing down things like the dates I apply to different jobs or how many things I've written that week, goals and to-do lists, questions I haven't answered yet...
I'm finding it very helpful to have all this information easily available to me in one place and having one thing that's in easy reach and always with me in case I quickly need to write something down. I can't always trust the random note taking apps I have on my phone or computer, especially when dealing with autocorrect that can change the wrong words and lead to future confusion or uncertainty about where the note got saved on my device and having to waste time searching for it.
Analog is the way to go.
For centuries, writers and artists and scientists and architects and anyone who did anything relied on a simple pen and paper. Technology is fantastic and has brought a lot of convenience to our lives, but I think in some cases, you just don't mess with the formula that's worked forever.