Posted on February 10, 2024 by Aywren
February has been a somewhat quiet month for this blog, especially after having posted so much last month. This was not something I meant to do, but rather something that happened due to me accidentally stumbling into another format of writing – journaling by hand.
Falling into a Habit
As a kid, I kept a little journal of my own. I probably still have it around here somewhere, but journaling by hand was not a habit I kept up with through my lifetime. I picked up a journal now and then over the years, but once I stumbled into the digital age, most of my writing went digital as well.
I’m not a big fan of my handwriting nor of writing things by hand. I used to take pages and pages of notes when I was in high school and college, but all of that stopped long ago. My hand isn’t used to writing like that anymore, and trying for more than a page here or there tends to put a strain on it.
However, last year, I became enthralled with studying Stoic philosophy. I won’t go down that rabbit hole here, because there’s too much to say about that, all of which would get this post vastly off topic.
For 2024, I decided to keep a Daily Stoic journal. This encourages me to write a few paragraphs a day around a set thought-prompt. While I could do this digitally, one practice of Stoic philosophy strongly suggests to journal each day - by hand. So, I dragged out an old notebook and started to do just that.
At first, I thought there was no way I’d keep up with this, even though it required so little writing per day. I struggle with the idea of “using up” paper at first (even though I just dragged out an old, unused notebook and repurposed it for this), so connected to the idea that typing everything out would be an act of conservation. Still, I stuck with it because I kept hearing how physically writing things out had so many benefits.
It took 18 days of the small-format journaling in my Daily Stoic for me to notice the desire to journal outside of the prompts. Some of my Daily Stoic responses were getting longer and off topic because I realized that I wanted to write more about other things than the Daily Stoic response was meant to be.
Did this mean… I suddenly had the desire to journal for real?
I sorted through a bottom shelf where I’d squirreled away dusty, old, and unused notebooks. This included a hardback journal that was dated 2004 – it looked like 20 years ago, I wanted to start a journal and never got past the first few days.
It was still in almost new condition (once I cleaned the dust off), so I decided to throw away the first few pages, and repurpose this 20-year-old hardly-used journal as a 2024 attempt at journaling. Since then, I’ve journaled every day, by hand, on top of the Daily Stoic prompts.
I try to write at least one page of whatever comes to mind. That’s not terribly hard to do because my handwriting is quite large and the pages in the journal aren’t terribly expansive.
Accidental Commonplace Book
At the end of January, I decided to reward myself for journaling every day. I went to the local bookstore (which I haven’t done in YEARS), searched their bargain bin for a book to bring home, and ended up buying two discounted… journals.
At first, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. They were very nice to look at, but I already had a shoddy notebook for Daily Stoic and a nice hardback journal for my daily journaling.
Then it struck me – this looked like a perfect format for a Commonplace Book.
I do have an online Commonplace Book, which I’ve been updating at least twice a week since last year. I decided to put it online because I wanted a digital version to share on my website. But really, the idea of a Commonplace Book is to write it by hand.
So now, I have a third journal, this one that focuses on writing down my discoveries – be they quotes, lyrics, passages from books -- and appending my thoughts to them.
Finding Fountain Pens
This doesn’t stop here, though. As you might notice in the pictures above, I have procured a fountain pen. Actually, a number of them. But that’s another topic that needs a post all its own.
As I noted earlier, writing is tough on my hand because I’m very out of practice. So, I did some research about whether a different type of pen could help make it easier. Some folks noted that using a fountain pen, rather than a normal pen, helped ease hand strain.
That got me on yet another tangent of learning about fountain pens and inks. I find that the fountain pens do help with my hand strain a bit – I can write much longer with a fountain pen than I could otherwise. But I also find that using a fountain pen is just aesthetically pleasing on top of it. It makes the process of journaling by hand feel more… authentic – if that makes sense.
I’m also now becoming more aware of paper quality vs. inks and pens and I’ve become excited about a whole new realm of stationary/pens/journals/books opening up to me.
So, that’s my story of why things have been a bit quiet around my digital blog as of late. I don’t intend to let this drop off, naturally. I have a growing list of topics I want to blog about.
However, I’ve just allowed myself to indulge in this unexpected exploration in the non-digital realm for the past two weeks, and I’ve found it extremely enjoyable. Hopefully, I can bring some of this experience here to my blog in time. I’m still very new to things when it comes to these topics – if you have suggestions or ideas in terms of fountain pens, journals, ink or any of that kind of thing, I’d love to hear about it!