The joy of hand-writing

I kept a journal sporadically for a while between 1998 and 2006 or so, and I’ve just been re-reading them.

I’m struck by how neat my handwriting was, and how fluently I wrote. Using a keyboard for everything except what I put up on whiteboards has destroyed my ability to write coherently without hitting backspace.

I’m also struck by how much I’ve forgotten.  I guess it’s reasonable to forget events that took place a decade ago, but a lot of my assumptions, attitudes and beliefs have changed too. In many ways, the journals are my working notes as I reviewed assumptions and beliefs that were no longer serving me well. But they explain why I’ve drifted apart from so many of my friends from that time.  A lot of them were alternative practitioners (and lovely women, every one) but these days I’d call myself a sceptic. I choose to consider this proof of the power of critical thinking. It’s clear from reading those old journals, and the blog I started in 2006, that it was very frightening for me to give up many of those old beliefs and that it was something I resisted mightily.

The the journals also mention forgetting things (moods mainly) across the span of a few days, and I recognise that. In some ways it’s good: as Jagger and Richards put it

Yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone

But it’s also a bit unnerving. Neil Postman believed that technology sucks out our brains, and that we’ve been making fewer demands on our memories ever since Gutenberg first poured lead, tin and antimony into moulds and created movable type. Or less euro-centrically, since Bi Sheng set chisel to wood in 1040 or so.  So it’s no surprise, given the wise words of the T-Shirt …

I have not lost my mind - it is backed up on disk somewhere

I have not lost my mind - it is backed up on disk somewhere

… that my journals give me better information about what I thought and felt than my memory does.

I feel I ought to start hand-writing a journal again. Blogging is too public. I had a nom de interweb for a while because my previous blog was more ranty and sweary than this one is and it also covered topics  this blog doesn’t (socio-political ones, mainly) which aren’t appropriate for a professional or semi-professional blog.

It’s not just about privacy though. The journals are physically satisfying things to read and look at.  My writing in them is legible (unlike the writing in my day-book) and although the metallic-gel-pen phase was a bit adolescent, the pages are pretty. At least I didn’t doodle with the gel pens.

So I should start hand-writing a journal again. But I know I won’t. Or not until I have something I need to work through and work out. But these days, I come to WordPress for that.

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4 responses to “The joy of hand-writing

  1. I’ve been a journaler most of my life, though most of that material has been thrown out by others. For years I wrote in notebooks, then I started keeping them on floppies for a little word processor I had, and in 2001 I started doing them on audiotape, which I still do. But in 2008 I started journaling on the internet too.
    Sometimes I wonder if in ten or fifteen years kids will even know HOW to write by hand anymore.

    • Hi Sehen, welcome to my blog, and thank you for commenting.

      I do admire you for managing a daily journal. My mother kept a journal all her life, and I wonder what I’d discover if I took the time to read it.

      They are a rich resource.

  2. I have always been really rubbish at hand writing which has rather put me off doing it.

    Went to a frankly rubbish primary school, the teachers had no particular interest in teaching me to write properly as I was left handed and consequently as I never learned properly struggled with it ever since.

    I have always been kinda jealous of people who can write quickly, and neatly in pleasant looking script. Nine times out of ten I cannot decipher stuff I have written myself after about a week…

  3. Maybe keep a weather almanac? My father wrote diligently every day in his, observing the weather while having breakfast. The pages had plenty of space for notes, so you could keep a ‘real’ diary as well.

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