Thinking happens on paper

Creation is essential because thinking doesn’t happen in our heads and then get recorded on paper, it happens in our tools.

The tools themselves aren’t important. They need to be part of a well-constructed process that gets out of your way and lets creativity happen regularly.


Ahrens, Sönke. How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking . 2022.

When a visitor spotted Feynman’s notebooks, he said how delighted he was to see such “wonderful records of Feynman’s thinking.”

“No, no!” Feynman protested. “They aren’t a record of my thinking process. They are my thinking process. I actually did the work on the paper.”

“Well,” the historian said, “the work was done in your head, but the record of it is still here.”

“No, it’s not a record, not really. It’s working. You have to work on paper, and this is the paper.”

This, obviously, was a very important distinction to Feynman, much more than just a linguistic difference and for a when it comes to thinking. (Ahrens p 95 retelling Gleick 1992 p 92)

Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way . Penguin USA, Inc., 2010.

Art is not about the thinking of an idea, coming up with something. Art is the art of getting it down.

MacGregor, N. (2010). Rhind Mathematical Papyrus. Retrieved February 14, 2024, from