Updated at: 05-06-2023 - By: Craig Huey

This quote, often cited as a Chinese proverb, was the impetus for me to begin writing this blog. A while ago, I was listening to the audiobook adaptation of Learning Business on Your Own Time: A Guide for People Without a Master’s Degreeby Josh Kaufman while I was driving home from dropping off my kids at school.

What’s up, y’all? The faintest ink is preferable to the clearest recollection.

Writing down your thoughts not only helps you keep track of them for future review but also makes it simpler to talk about with others. It’s been said that “If you want to remember something, even the faintest ink will do the job better than your fondest recollection. Used notebooks and journals are as valuable as gold.

29 - Chinese Proverb: The Palest Ink Is Better Than the Best Memory.

This paragraph spoke to me as a lifelong journal-keeper. I’ve often said that my notebook remembers more than my brain, but the Chinese proverb puts it much more eloquently.

Why I Think It’s an Awesome Quote

This quote is wonderful because it emphasizes the importance of putting one’s thoughts and ideas into writing.

When there’s something I want to remember or an experience I want to record and reflect on later, I’ll either write it down in a notebook, snap a photo, or record an audio note.

The quote was referenced in an episode of Mad Men in which Paul Kinsey failed to record what could have been his greatest idea and therefore lost it forever.

More Than Words

So, what do we take away from this quoting exercise?

Document it.

It’s important to write down any thoughts that may be floating around in your head.

Concepts, thoughts, to-do lists, and agendas. Write down your thoughts on a significant event.

Compose a list of potential vacation destinations and activities to complete during your stay.

Make a list of potential presents for a loved one.

Commune with loved ones by penning a letter to them.

Write down all the feelings that are flooding your mind right now.

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The options are limitless. The key is to write it down.

In Other Words

Most well-known Chinese proverbs have multiple translations. Some other possible idioms are listed below:

“The faintest ink is preferable to the clearest recollection.” “The tiniest mark in a book can shed more light than the brightest recollection” An old proverb goes, “The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.” Even the smallest amount of ink is preferable to a perfect memory. “Faint ink is preferable to a sharp mind.” The most reliable memory can’t compete with the weakest ink.