#1. Write It Down

On the way yesterday to a conference, Wagner, Luciano, Haroldo and I were chatting as I dodged potholes on the municipal highway out of Embu-Guaçu, and I mentioned to them the list of 50 lessons from the 50-year-old op-ed writer.

I repeated to them what I wrote on my post, that I’d list a 100 lessons when I reached 100, but I’d probably forget them all by that time.


One of the lessons would have to be, Write It Down. Else you’ll forget it.

I write down article ideas, sermon outlines (often a word or phrase for basic points), poem seeds, ideas for lessons, a few quotes here or there, besides the more prosaic numbers, figures, telephones, and hymn numbers to announce at church in Taubaté on Sunday.

I won’t delay over the content of what I write, since your content will be different, and mine, in one form or another, usually winds up somewhere in public* where you can read it, be it English or Portuguese.

And might lesson #2 be, to put what you’ve written down where you can find it? (I’m thinking that one over.)

One advantage of the Internet and your blog: you can always do a search for it, if you can remember the general idea and a keyword to type in. These days, I do a significant portion of my writing on my Alphasmart Neo, a long-lasting word processor, then upload the text to blog, email or OpenOffice Writer. (UPDATE: Now I use my Mac.)

If you don’t like the Internet or doing it electronically for writing it down, there are all kinds of notebooks, from Moleskine, to the wire-bound Mead memo books that friend Eddison carries in his shirt pocket, to the Walmart-bought Carolina Pad composition books I usually scratch in.

What those 4.5 x 3.25 in. booklets won’t hold (a tad small for poems over three feet), I put into the Norcom 9 3/4 x 7 1/2 in. composition books. (Irony: the latter are made in Brazil, but found only in the US.)

I’d like to find a size in between these two, but both have fairly sturdy binding that hold up under wear. None of the former have ever come apart on me; only the last of the Norcom books has ever broken from its covers.

As I suppose most left-handers do, I hate spiral-bound stuff. I have imagined all sorts of spiral-wire tortures for the inventor. Spiral or not, I often start at the back of the notebook and work my way to the front.

But, back to front, or whatever the binding, I know the basic rule: write it down. Homo sapiens’ memory has a poor retrieval system.

To take a theological turn, maybe that’s why we have Scripture. As much as the Hebrews were considered, at least, in primordial times, an oral society, the Lord from the beginning had his people write down the history of his movings and doings among men.

So I guess I’m in good company, since the Creator said it before I did: “Then the Lord instructed Moses, ‘Write this down as a permanent record, and announce it to Joshua'” (Exodus 17:14 NLT).

*See this RSS feed of many of my Internet spaces.

What do you think?