It’s this simple: If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen.
This seems to be the result of a couple things: where I’m at in my life, and the particular way my brain works.
Just as I’ve been able to approach life in a more efficient and understanding way through zeroing in on my tendencies toward introversion, I’ve been able to be more forgiving of myself through discovering I learn best visually.
Which means I need to see it for it to be real to me.
When I can see it, it’s much more likely to stick, whether it be learning a new friend’s name, keeping track of directions, or a variety of other things.
Here are real-life examples of how this plays out:
- If my kids tell me they need something but I’m not at a place where I can write it into my to-do list right off, it’s likely to be forgotten. A note, written out in some fashion, will get them the results they want much more assuredly (we’re working on this one).
- Maps are helpful to me if I’m trying to find my way to a new location. I need numbers too but I can’t remember them by just hearing them or reading them once. I can read them 15 times out loud and they don’t hold unless I can also see them.
- When signing books, I get into trouble if I don’t have the name to whom I’m signing the book written down on a scrap of paper. Even if it’s not a difficult name to spell. If it’s verbally spelled out, I’m shaky, and prone to error.
- When I was taking part in spelling bees years ago, I had to first “see” the word in my head. Then, and only then, could I spell it.
- While taking music theory class in college, I asked the professor if I could have a little drawing of a piano keyboard with me during testing days. She agreed and it made all the difference.
- I can’t write about much of anything unless I can first see it in my head. If I can’t see it — either in my imagination or in person — I can’t write about it.
- When I’m at the doctor’s office either for myself or one of the kids, and the doctor starts rattling off instructions, it’s pointless. “Please write down everything you just said,” I’ll have to say. If they don’t, it’s like they never told me for the most part.
- I’m an ardent note-taker. Even when I’m not likely to refer to my notes later, taking the notes at, say, a presentation helps me remember the information. I bring a notebook and pen with me almost everywhere.
- And when I hear a presentation that wows me, if I try to share that wowing factor — a sentence or phrase — with others, it’s likely not going to be transmitted well. Unless I’ve written it down and can read that wowing factor verbatim.
- I’m one of those people who will remember a punch line but forget how to get from A to Z. That’s because while listening to a joke, I am less intent on transmitting the image and more on following the teller’s lead. I’d have to hear it a second or third time in order to create the visual in my mind before being able to tell it well verbally to someone else.
- I haven’t even begun to mention how I ever accomplish anything from idea to finished product in my writing, especially when writing personal essays. I have many ideas in the course of the week, but only those lucky enough to be written down the moment they occur move from fleeting thought to fruition.
Again, some of this “affliction” results from detail overload. I can’t take in tons of new information when my brain is already cluttered with a million details, and my life is filled with them — everything from the kids’ activities and schedules to my deadlines and daily tasks.
The way I describe it, it almost seems like a disability, doesn’t it? But I really don’t think of it that way. Does it affect my life? You bet. But I also believe it’s what gives me the ability to write. Because I see life visually, I can write about life visually, transmitting the picture I am seeing in my mind into a word visual onto the page in order to bring it to life for others.
Writing that is not visually rich lacks life. I fall short all the time. Writing well requires a lot of pauses, reflection, and frequently tapping the imagination, even when it’s non-fiction writing. But I can do it well if I allow myself that necessary time.
If you are a visual learner, if things don’t stick in quite the same way through hearing versus seeing something, don’t feel alone. I’ll bet there are quite a few of us out here, and though we might need to take a little more time with some tasks (I’m a slow test-taker, too), that doesn’t mean we’re not bright. It just means we need to see our mind-picture before we can proceed. But hopefully, what we’re able to produce and achieve will be worth the wait.
How do you learn best? How does this affect how you live?