The last time I hand-wrote something was a few days ago, when I wrote in my journal. Actually, it’s a little bit more than that, and the answer to the Blog 101 prompt should have been “every day”, since my journal is actually a daily writing practice called ‘morning pages’ which has fallen a little by the wayside recently and which I’ve been trying to revive.
The idea behind morning pages is to unload everything onto the page as soon as you wake up. A sort of emptying of all the stuff that’s swimming around in your head, and a clearing up of space for new input in the coming day. It does actually work in the same way as people talking to a stranger on a bus or the barman in a bar. It’s a way of relieving tension without risk. When you write it all down on paper you can close the book and know that you haven’t divulged any secrets that should have been kept to yourself.
Writing with a pen and paper is slower than typing. Each letter has to be formed individually, and there is something unique and artistic about writing by hand. Every person’s handwriting is different to the next person’s. Some people write carefully and take time to form the words. Others scrawl large and quick, covering a lot of the page with very little content, spreading themselves out thinly. Others squeeze a lot of words onto the page. Their handwriting is cramped, the words almost indecipherable. Sometimes even they can’t read back what they’ve written.
Regardless of your writing style, the idea of morning pages is to write at least three pages before you do anything else every single morning, whether you have anything to say or not. Sometimes you’re reduced to just repeating “I don’t know what to write about” over and over again just to fill up the pages, but when that becomes unbearably boring you suddenly find something else that you can write about. A stray thought, a half formed theory or story, it doesn’t really matter as long as it fills the pages.
I first wrote morning pages at a time when I was under a great deal of stress, and it was one of several valuable tools that I used to get me through those times. I also believe it’s a great way of putting your thoughts and ideas into some sort of order, which is why I’ve been trying to take it up again. Unfortunately, I’m not doing very well at keeping to the daily pages, which is why it’s been several days since I wrote anything by hand.