Handwritten journals and deliberate writing

My leather-covered journal at the start of its life.

My leather-covered journal at the start of its life.

I’ve always been fascinated by journals and diaries. I wrote often in journals during my childhood and adolescence, but I stopped writing in a physical journal for a long time during my adulthood, preferring the ease of typing my thoughts on a computer with a keyboard.

But even after I went digital, I always loved browsing through the shelves of journals at bookstores. There’s just something fantastic about all those blank pages bound between the covers. They’re the essence of a story waiting to be told. What choices are you going to make in life? Where are you going to go? Who will you meet there? Looking at a blank journal is like imagining all the possible adventures that could fill a lifetime.

So even though I still like the ease and quickness of composing text with a keyboard, I bought a Moleskine journal earlier this year with the intention of getting back into keeping a handwritten journal.

I also found a beautiful leather cover for it on Etsy.com. I like the idea that even though a journal will eventually be full and stored away on a shelf or in a box, the cover will remain constant. This journal cover could travel with me for decades, accumulating all of life’s inevitable bumps and scratches on its well-worn leather the same way I’ll acquire crow’s feet around my eyes and grey in my hair.

I’ve discovered over the last few months that writing by hand is a completely different way of writing. My usual style of writing is to type a raw thought and rework it endlessly until it says what I want it to say. But the journal forces me to slow down. I can’t write fast enough to keep up with my thoughts, so I think more about what I want to write before I pick up a pen. It requires patience in a way that writing on the computer doesn’t.

Writing in a handwritten journal is a deliberate act. My fingers don’t fly across the keyboard to string together words. There is no backspace key to conveniently erase the awkward phrase I’ve just written and replace it with something more succinct or clever. My journal is a record of all my faults and mistakes (not to mention my bad handwriting).

It forces me to be more forgiving of myself. I’ll look back at things I’ve written and want to edit and revise to make them better. But I can’t. It’s already written down in pen — there’s no taking it back. And so all I can do is accept it as it is and let it go. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect.

It’s a good lesson.

I’m going to try to keep it up. What about you — does anyone else have a handwritten journal?

One thought on “Handwritten journals and deliberate writing

  1. Oh my, I don’t feel normal unless I have a journal close in my vicinity… I even have several going at once. I keep one in my purse for random thoughts and ideas I get during the day, and I have others that I use for other themes in my life. I agree that writing by hand is different than typing it up. I find I enter a stream of consciousness when I open the cover and see a blank page in front of me, but it’s the honest unedited part that’s appealing.

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