Handwriting is becoming a lost art.
Children learn how to swipe before they learn how to read. They learn how to type before they can hold a pen. It feels easy to bemoan the old times and lost art of handwriting, but adults are typically not any better. It’s hard to pick up a pen when your hand is already holding a phone.
I’m certainly guilty of defaulting to the typed word. I do most of my writing on my iPad, with smart-cover keyboard, or on my iPhone. (Both of these methods are terrible for ergonomics; more on that some other time).
My Journaling Practice
Since childhood, I have kept journals in various forms, although not always consistently. I discovered DayOne for the iPhone in 2012, and started using it consistently in 2013, when I began my fitness first ritual.
This week I celebrated 5 years of daily journaling using the DayOne app.
My DayOne entries include my fitness logs, my Daily Recap evening journaling exercise, ideas and insights, musings and ramblings, meeting notes, logs for how I spend my time each day, Instagram and Facebook posts, and all the inner monologue I can extract from my mind.
I love the ability to add photos to entries and to see this day in history with one tap.
DayOne offers the type of perspective that I could not get from my physical journals.
A Quick Tangent About My Journaling “Habit”:
This daily practice was a byproduct of my Fitness First practice. I needed a place to log my workouts, and DayOne was convenient. I liked seeing the recap of my workouts, so I started recording other parts of my day. Of course, Fitness First was a result of my resolve to stop hitting the snooze button in the morning. Breaking one habit (hitting snooze) resulted in creating two new practices, or rituals (daily exercise and journaling).
Why You Should Maintain a Physical Journal
That doesn’t mean I’ve given up my pens and notebooks. I keep various notebooks and journals in which I write ideas, insights, and more personal entries, although I don’t write in them daily (yet).
Although physical journals are not as convenient, I believe it’s essential to put pen to paper.
Here’s why: your handwriting speaks in the way your words cannot.
A Beacon For Truth
A couple of years ago, when I was experimenting with a practice of writing morning pages, I switched that to a physical notebook. My primary motivation was to restrict the time I spent on the practice. Using a physical notebook, I could force myself to limit my writing to a given number of pages and avoid spending all day writing.
When you write mindfully with a pen on paper, you begin to notice things: how the pen feels in your hand, the way your hand moves across the page, how smoothly the ink flows when you write.
Along the way I noticed that this sensory experience of writing with pen on paper functioned as a sort of “lie detector test” for my inner truth.
When I’m writing about things that are important to me — visions, dreams, fears, desires — these subtle signals tell me whether I’m accessing my truth.
For example, if I’m writing about what I want to create for my life, and my handwriting feels smooth and easy, then I know this is congruent with my heart and soul. But if the pen keeps getting stuck, or my hand is shaky, then it tells me that I may be lying to myself. Perhaps I’m writing what I think I should want for my life, instead of what I really do want.
Combining Digital and Physical
With over 14,000 entries in DayOne, I’m not giving up my digital journal any time soon. I love the convenience and accessibility of maintaining a digital journal, and the ease with which I can see my evolution.
But whenever I want to explore a deeper issue, clarify my life’s vision, or access the deeper truth behind what I’m feeling or thinking, or work through challenging issues, I take out my pens and a journal and write by hand.
I pay attention not just to what I’m writing, but to how it feels. In this way, it becomes a form of “off-the-cushion” meditation. The sensory cues help me cut through the clutter of thoughts in my overactive mind and stay aligned and congruent with what I desire and value most.
Your Turn: Try It Out
If you don’t have a journaling practice that involves a physical journal, I encourage you to start one. I would love to hear your experiences with this, so please share in the comments.