Besides your Bible, there is no more important Bible study tool than a pen and a notebook.
What should the pen be used for? Practically anything you want. That’s the beauty of it. If you have a thought from the text, write it down. If you have a question about the text, write it down. If you want to sketch out an outline of the text, do it. If you simply want to make note of a key word, write it down. If you are having a hard time focusing, use your pen to list your distractions. If you want to rephrase a scripture if your own words, do it. If you want to write down all the possible interpretations of a text, do it. If you think of a tentative conclusion to a question, write it out, along with the supporting ideas that led you to that conclusion. And later, if you decide your conclusion is not a very strong one, just scribble it out. Draw arrows, symbols, circles, squares, or anything else that helps you capture your thoughts. Even if you choose not to write anything at all, always study with a pen in hand and a notebook near by. That way if you have a passing thought you want to capture, you will have the ability to do so.
To put pen to paper is to think. The process of figuring out what to write down requires observation, reflection, and analysis, even if on a very simple, almost subconscious level. But it is impossible to choose what to put on paper without thinking. It’s really that simple.
Unlike typing on a computer, when you are using a pen and paper, formatting is never an issue. Is your handwriting messy? Who cares? You aren’t writing for anybody for yourself.
Sometimes you will sit down to study, but a distraction happens. But if you are in the habit of writing down your thoughts, it can be easy to pick up right where you left off without losing your train of thought. You may not ever reference your notes again, but then again, you might.
Always study with a pen in hand.