While most of my professional life is spent typing, my personal life revolves around the handwritten word. I keep an analog weekly calendar that gets littered with post it notes. I keep a book of lists and one where I copy out powerful writing I encounter. And, while I tried to abandon the practice in 2014 in favor of blogging, I continue to write at least one or two pages in a spiral notebook every morning, my version of Julia Cameron’s morning pages. This year, I have added a daily log that I am keeping in an old fashioned composition book: simple two- or three-word descriptions of what I read, listened to, made, wrote and did each day, one page per day.
All of these items are hand written, usually with Pilot G-2 pen with .7 mm points and mostly black. The pens are a recent change as I was a Pilot Precise .5 mm point rolling ball user for decades. I still take one out now and then. And I’m also playing with Paper Mate Gel Inkjoy Pens, also with .7 mm points. Just ordered a 10-pack of fun colors like Pink Pop and Bright Blue Bliss. I have a reading friend in England who keeps his readings logs on ledger books with special fountain pens and ink. For him and me, handwriting is more than scribbling a grocery list or a thank you note.
I love making handwritten journal entries, the press of the pen on paper, the comfort of college ruled lines, the sense of capturing a personal moment with no intention to share. The morning pages provide a moment to be completely and utterly myself. I know lots of people who keep these kinds of writings in digital form and are completely happy doing so. It certainly makes them easier to access and use in later years, if that is the intention.
I’m not sure about my intention for all these words: the notebooks fill boxes and shelves, and I have a temptation to simply heave them on the next family bonfire. But the larger temptation is to start returning to them. Two decades of words about work, life, marriage, spirituality, relationships and sometimes just plain drivel, I’m sure. I don’t think I want to start at the beginning. Maybe read entries from the same date across different years? Or just pick one entry from each notebook. They span anywhere from two to three months, depending on how many days and pages I wrote. In the first decade or so, I was much more committed to Cameron’s specific process. But as it got stale or repetitive, I gave myself permission to make it work or me, incorporating readings and journaling prompts.
I’m not sure I have a big lesson here: I am grateful for word processors and blogging software and spell checkers. They make publication so much easier. But, I am also grateful for growing up in the age of handwriting, which means I have options when it comes to “writing,” or actually producing the text.