October 14, 2010

Journaling by Hand: I Like Writing Pen on Paper - Though I Do It Less and Less

When I was growing up, I had a callus on my left ring finger that lasted all the way through law school:  it was ugly, but somewhat of a badge of honor. I was left-handed, and held my pen a funny way because I'd taught myself to read and write long before I started school.  (There's an old news story on this in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, but that's a different post for a different day.)

That callus meant I wrote - and wrote a lot.  I was proud of that ugly old thing.

Today, it's gone.  I type all the time now.  Sometimes, I dictate into a Dragon microphone (voice to text software is handy now and then).  I handwrite grocery lists, task lists, little notes to friends, an occasional letter.  Sign a card, leave a stickie on the door.  Not much handwriting going on over here.

So, I've decided to change.  I like writing by hand.  I like the pen, the paper, the time it takes to do it.  A friend who analyzes handwriting for forgeries recalled to me her long-ago study of handwriting analysis.  Personality appearing through handwriting. 

She told me that there are those who believe that people can change their attitudes and behaviors simply by changing how they write.  Amazing to think that a child could increase self-esteem by writing their signature bigger or that a depressed teen could brighten up by simply changing the slant of their words. 

Who knows if it's true or not - even my friend wasn't a true believer - but I suspect that our personalities do show themselves somewhat in how we write with pens, it's such a personal thing.  It has its own creative character, handwriting.

Tess Gerritsen and Elmore Leonard are two authors I know who handwrite their work.  Type it later, but first draft is brain to hand to pen to paper.  I like that.  Or I like the idea of that. 

Mr. Leonard actually writes on special paper pads made just for him.  That's so wonderful.  Unlined, yellow pads each with 63 sheets - you can see an image of them here, on his desk, and read his story of why he likes them in this NPR Interview

Dr. Gerritsen may not have special pads, but she has a separate desk for handwriting and another for her computer.  The handwriting desk is an old oak partner's desk -- you know the kind, with all that fabulous surface area inviting you to stack stuff to the rafters (look at the image for Gerritsen's map of Boston there, atop her books and things).   

Here's the thing. I am going to incorporate handwriting back into my daily life.  I'm going to journal by hand, maybe write a poem or two by hand, and who knows: start writing a story by hand.  Is there power in it?  Dunno - will I write more? will I become more prolific?  will my personality change? will I lose weight?  I'll let you know.

To make things even more fun, I've sent off for some disposable extra fine point Varsity Fountain pens (see the image above, they're less than three bucks apiece at Office Depot).  Very cool, can't wait till they arrive.

Update:  Got my Varsity Fountain pens, and I love them - if you're interested, read my review over at Amazon for the details on why they're great (IMHO). 
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