# Writing makes thinking possible
We need a good method to think because we have Working memory limits. If Effective tool circumvents human limits, we need to find a tool that circumvents our working memory limit. The tool, or method of thinking that has been proven by science is note-writing. Many would think that writing helps our thinking, but contemporary handbook of neuroscientists argues that writing is what makes thinking possible. Scientists with different specialisation, like psychologists, educators, or philosophers, may disagree on how our brain works, but most of them agree that real thinking will require a form of writing (Ahrens 95-96).
When there are too many variables that we're thinking about, note-writing let go of some of the variables (like remembering information), so that we can focus on the real thinking (like connecting ideas or understanding) (Ahrens 90).
Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes (p. 5).
A good structure is something you can trust. It relieves you from the burden of remembering and keeping track of everything. If you can trust the system, you can let go of the attempt to hold everything together in your head and you can start focusing on what is important: The content, the argument and the ideas.
Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes (p. 90).
The slip-box takes care of storing facts and information. Thinking and understanding is what it can't take off your shoulders, which is why it makes sense to focus on this part of the work. That it facilitates learning as well is a nice side effect.
Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes (pp. 95-96).
Philosophers, neuroscientists, educators and psychologists like to disagree in many different aspects on how the brain works. But they no longer disagree when it comes to the need for external scaffolding. Almost all agree nowadays that real thinking requires some kind of externalisation, especially in the form of writing. "Notes on paper, or on a computer screen [...] do not make contemporary physics or other kinds of intellectual endeavour easier, the make it possible" is one of the key takeaways in a contemporary handbook of neuroscientists (Levy 2011, 290).
- Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes
- To write is to rubber duck
- The prerequisites of flow are needed to flood working memory
- First, the activity that is being executed must require skills, because a more passive activity will not be able to flood your working memory. Any activity that requires skill will demand more information to be in your working memory, hence you can quickly flood them up. A good example of an activity that will flood your working memory is thinking, which is why an external tool like writing is needed to aid our working memory limits Writing makes thinking possible.
- To diagram is to model
- I’ve attempted to follow this principle but it has never really worked for me, I resorted to drawing the diagrams manually. The reason I do this manually is because of the same reason of I write, it helps me think (Writing makes thinking possible). Moving and creating boxes and lines help me think about boundaries, whether the system is getting too complicated, or is it evolving in the right direction.
- Documentation is the side effect of thinking
- On the first reaction, I don't actually write or draw them for keeping records, I do it because Writing makes thinking possible. And because the primary reason I write is for thinking (and draw for modelling - To diagram is to model), the documents are just the side effect of the thinking process. As Feynman said (Ahrens 95):