Attributed as a Chinese proverb, this is the quote that prompted me to start this blog. I was listening to the audiobook version of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman in my car after I’d dropped off my kids at school.
Capturing your ideas on paper makes them easier to share with others, in addition to archiving your thoughts for later reference and review. As the saying goes, “The palest ink is clearer than the fondest memory.” Notebooks and journals, regularly used, are worth their weight in gold.
As an avid journaler, this paragraph struck a chord with me. I’ve often said that my notebook has a better memory than my brain does, but it’s not as elegantly stated as the Chinese Proverb.
Why I Think It’s an Awesome Quote
I love this quote because it supports the idea of externalization, of getting our thoughts and ideas out of our brains and into a more tangible form.
I often do this by writing notes down in my notebook, or taking a picture, or recording an audio note of something I want to remember or an event I want to capture and have to revisit at a later date.
This quote was even mentioned in a Mad Men episode when Paul Kinsey neglected to write down what might’ve been the best idea he’d ever had, and ended up forgetting it completely.
More Than Words
What do we learn from this quote?
Write. It. Down.
Whatever ideas are floating around in your head, get them down on paper.
Ideas, notes, lists, plans. Journal about a meaningful experience.
Write down the names of places you want to travel and what you want to do while you’re there.
Jot down gift ideas for someone special.
Write a note to a friend or family member.
List out the emotions you’re feeling right now about your present moment.
The possibilities are endless. The important thing is to get it down.
In Other Words
As with most popular Chinese proverbs, you’re bound to come across a few different versions. Here are a few other derivations you might see:
“The palest ink is better than the best memory.”“The faintest stroke of ink in a record-book is more illuminating than the most vividly-recalled memory”“The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.”“The faintest ink is better than the best memory.”“Pale ink is better than the most retentive memory.”“The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory.”