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De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
In Hand
A few years ago I started writing in a journal on a consistent basis. It helped me through a difficult time, when I was struggling with questions of both style and substance. Starting last August, though, I started to do more of my non-directed writing on Google documents, figuring that it would be easier to repurpose my words if they were already in electronic form. What I've discovered, though, is that, although Google documents is a great place for storing back-ups and the perfect location for the notes I keep on my longer projects, the interface channels my prose down different pathways than writing by hand. As I gradually ceased to use my Moleskin journals, I could feel a door shutting inside me. But it took me a few months to perceive the causal relationship. Now I'm trying to get back in the flow by doing more by hand. And it's helping me, not only to think more clearly, but to write more fluidly on the computer. Although I belong to the first post-typewriter generation -- even my first papers in high school were composed on a word processor -- I apparently need to alternate between the screen and the page in order to be the writer I need to be.

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Current Location: 85704
Muse: after-reverberations of The National's superb Boxer

16 comments or Leave a comment
elf_owl From: elf_owl Date: September 17th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've just made a decision to try to write more in my paper journal again. I've never been particularly good at consistency with such things, but think it would be good for me to do so. I've got different purposes, but still find these parallels with my friends interesting.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 17th, 2007 05:08 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Worth a shot. Would you like a Moleskin? I have one with your name on it, if you're interested. . .

elf_owl From: elf_owl Date: September 17th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I picked up and started writing in the last journal I had. There's still quite a lot of space left in it and I kind of want to fill it before starting a new one, but at the same time I have always liked the feel of Moleskins and never used one. I think that when I fill this journal, my next should certainly be a Moleskin. They just seem so satisfying, and if the physical experience of writing is satisfying on top of the other benefits, it'll certainly help me to continue doing it.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 17th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You've got it. Just remind me. I'm absent-minded!
e_compass_rosa From: e_compass_rosa Date: September 17th, 2007 04:38 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've been thinking about this often lately -- thanks for the reminder. I wonder if I can even write by hand anymore. I think it's time to try.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 17th, 2007 05:07 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It really frees my mind. I don't know why. But it does. Something to do with the body-mind connection. And maybe the sort of convergence that meditation is supposed to bring about.
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: September 17th, 2007 07:43 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I haven't written anything (except letters and brief notes) by hand since I kept a journal in high school. A friend of mine revises stories for line-level stuff by transcribing them from a printed copy to longhand, and then retyping.

I keep meaning to take up an actual pen again, but I'm too paranoid about losing handwritten work. I lose stuff a lot. I recently lost a small moleskin with a couple years' worth of notes. That soured me on longhand.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 17th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
When I'm successful at writing, particularly with longer projects, I usually have to do some of it by hand. I find that difficult transitions come easier for me when I begin longhand, then recopy them onto the computer editing as I go.

I know what you mean about losing hard copies. I try to transcribe some of my journal periodically just in case. But you could copy -- and, dare I say it, should have copied -- something as important as your writing notes on a photocopier. Or, if you have access, even scanned the pages.

I bet, though, that once you get more settled you will be losing less. Good luck to the Eagles. I used to pull for the Redskins, but Dan Snyder is a moron. And good luck to the Phillies. Wish I could come up there next week to see the Bears-Wildcats, but there's too much going on here and I'm too broke.
shadydeals From: shadydeals Date: September 17th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I, too, have started writing in a paper journal this summer and I it has helped me feel more in control of my life and helped me to process my thoughts with more ease, something very similar to what you noted. I like having both my online journals and my paper one - I need a balance of both as they bring out different aspects of myself.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 17th, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's exactly how I feel. I think different forms of bodily engagement are important for both writing and reading. I try to read in different places, with different postures, both to take strain off my back and neck and to open up neural pathways -- I sound so New Agey! -- that would otherwise be barred.
flw From: flw Date: September 17th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

rough draft

Our school forced us to handwrite everything. the teachers would not accept computer printouts, in particular, dot-matrix printouts. Man, they hated that. They would accept type-written stuff, but not without proof that we had at least done one hand-written rough draft. And when I was young, we had to do rough drafts in pencil on this bizarre waxy brown paper with green guide lines. You had to maintain your pencil point perfectly, as the stuff was so thin, you would rip through it constantly... actually it ripped in a most unusual way that I recall vividly. There would be a small triangular tear that would widen from the initial rip in the direction of the stroke of the pencil (please don't read that last phrase twice!). As the tear progressed, the paper would fold like a tiny, tiny accordion, each fold less than a millimeter in width.

I am sure you wanted to hear all about that.

As a consequence of all the handwriting we were required to do... I even took a class where we were required to write a journal entry every day, which is how I got started, and why I was so hep to lj so very early (I'm so cool)... because of all that, I have exquisitely excellently awesomating handwriting. Unfortunately, when I hand-write journals I tend to start focusing on making them beautiful rather than the content. And also, even more than on lj, I tend to go straight to the bottom and start being indulgently suicidal very fast... within moments the physical activity translates into frantic neurons firing, "I hate myself! I hate myself! God, I suck! I'm so stupid! This book sucks! Fuck! The first thirty pages were beautiful, now the margins are all fucked up! SHit! fuck! I have to rip this page out, dammit!" Then I rip the page out. It screws up the binding. I get angry I smash the book... yep!

Can't "smash" livejournal.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 17th, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: rough draft

Maybe we really are derived from the same demon seed, because your experiences with trying to write by hand are exactly the ones I had from junior high school through the start of my LJ years. It was only when I started posting here on a regular basis that I got over the it-needs-to-look-pretty hurdle.

Somehow having a scanner available helped to. Now I can transform my scribbles into something prettier, as I did yesterday.
flw From: flw Date: September 17th, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: rough draft

Which reminds me!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 17th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: rough draft

Time to pay up.
jakemacalister From: jakemacalister Date: September 17th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oddly, I have more consistency here on LJ then any other journal. I have tons of handwritten journals that I started but never finished. I think it's all about the interaction here.

Weird, no?

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 17th, 2007 09:13 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Same goes for me. This is the first and only journal I've kept on a regular basis. But I was able to use my handwritten journals more consistently after getting used to the LJ routine. I guess we need an audience, however small.
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