On writing and the mind | explodedsoda
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On writing and the mind

I used to write a lot more by hand. In journals, which I'm sure are still somewhere in my parents' houses, jotting down the details of the day. Writing down random little thoughts in notebooks while I played games or sat in class or tried to fall asleep.. Lists, so many lists. There's a list of all of my 70+ AIM screennames in some notebook I'm sure still in my mom's house.

In middle school my best friend at the time, Alesha, and I wrote so many notes back and forth, and had enough intercepted by teachers or other classmates, that we invented our own little cipher of the alphabet to write in instead. We had that stuff memorized after a while and could read and write whole notes in it. I bet I still know some of it.

Why I stopped writing by hand

Computers, and my addiction to them. Why write when I could type so much faster? Why write when typing looks so much cleaner than my somewhat sloppy handwriting? Despite all that, I found I stopped writing as much. Yeah, I kept a Deadjournal and Livejournal for a couple years, but never updated it nearly as much as I used to write in my old journal. It just...didn't feel the same for some reason. Plus once I got sick of all the stuff I'd written in it, it was just so easy to hit a button and destroy it forever. As much as I'm sure I'd love to burn the old handwritten journals I have, there's some sentimental value to them that I'm sure would keep me from doing it.

I also never liked note taking on my laptop in college. I stopped making lists cause they just never stuck with me when I typed them the way they did when I used to handwrite them. Text messaging and twitter came along and made it easy for me to just blast off random thoughts to someone else for a quick laugh or comment, instead of writing them down and adding to them, elaborating on them, turning them into something more. I used to daydream more, I wonder if my decline in writing had something to do with the decline in my imagination as well?

Why I'm writing by hand again

After reading some articles regarding writing by hand and memorization and using your non-dominant hand as brain exercise and the plethora of writing exercises for anxiety and negativity I started looking at to help with mine I decided to start working on bettering myself, even if just through little writing exercises. I also started looking at ways to improve my handwriting since I've never cared for it. This eventually led me to looking at fountain pens and after a few weeks of lurking /r/fountainpens I couldn't resist buying one. (I got the Pilot Metropolitan which currently has a pretty orange ink in it).

Now I keep a gratitude journal, which I try to write a page of things I'm grateful for each night before I go to sleep, or when I'm feeling especially down or anxious. I pulled out a bunch of my other little notebooks I've collected over the years in hopes of writing in. Some are for random thoughts, some are for the internal narrative when it comes so I can jot it down before losing it, some for list making and note taking, one is for "stream of consciousness" writing to just get out whatever it is on my mind, especially helpful when I'm stressed or bummed. I've started buying postcards to send to my friends back home and my long distance man. I want to start writing them letters, but with the instantaneous communication of this generation it's hard to come up with things to tell that haven't already been said to them!

Why you should start writing by hand again

Why not! If you're having issues with your anxiety, if you find yourself being more negative than you'd like, if you find you can't ever remember the notes or lists you make on your computer/phone, or even if you just find yourself with nothing much to do with some pen and paper nearby, try sitting down and writing it all out. Or buy a postcard and send it to a friend you wish you kept better touch with or to someone special just to bring a smile to their face! Even if you just throw whatever it is you wrote immediately afterwords it can still be helpful, still therapeutic, still feels...productive.

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