Dear Diary, Does anyone write longhand anymore?

journal-diaryIn 1981, Santa brought me a Hello Kitty diary; I was 7 and totally smitten with Hello Kitty (as evidenced by the infamous Hello Kitty Heist of ’81).  This diary began my 25+ year love affair with writing longhand.  Don’t get me wrong, we had a Commodore 128 and were hip to technology, but I loved to write by hand.  I used this diary (albeit sporadically) until 1988, recording all my pre-teen drama and foibles for my future self to look back on with mirth. 

When I went to high school, I stopped keeping a daily diary and graduated to the marble composition notebooks for vacation journals–notice the personalized one with the collage of pictures on the cover!  Our family vacations are chronicled from 1989 straight through to 2008 (though now I vacation with my husband).  I started using other types of journals because the composition notebooks didn’t weather all that well. 

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I love looking back on old vacations–especially with my family–because I wrote down the most august things that would have long since faded from memory.  A family vacation to Long Beach Island, NJ in 1991…I was a chronic overpacker even at the tender age of 16!

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Or how about a page (and doodle) from 2007’s road trip that took us to Livingston, Montana?

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My point is that even though I love to blog, nothing compares to keeping a longhand journal of my travels.  But I wonder if anyone else out there does the same?  Is writing by hand a dying hobby? 

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for the complete Jessica Darling series HERE.  Contest ends Monday, 4/20 at 10pm EST.

22 Comments

  • At 2009.04.19 18:51, Steph Su said:

    Haha, that reminds me of Megan’s (retro)blog. Lots of fun to see what you used to write about. I actually also keep journals, and love writing in them, though since being in college I have had trouble writing in them as often as I’d’ve liked.

    nat says: ha! my college journal was pretty spotty…i have the first few days of freshman year (including the exact minute i met my now-husband)…but i was having too much fun to write every night. (at the LIBRARY, mom, if you’re reading this!)

    • At 2009.04.19 19:04, connie said:

      Love to write…love to write and receive honest to goodness cards and letters. I remember hiding a set of journals from the years I was divorcing and being a single parent…I called them Crisis in an Otherwise Normal Life…I hid them in the attic b/c I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy…that is crazy by itself LOL

      nat says: there is nothing better than a real, live card in the mail. i love handwritten things…especially from my bloggy friends. i like to see how handwriting matches up with the “you” i’ve created in my head. and you’re no where near crazy. you’re not even in the same zipcode as crazy. if you want crazy, come hang out with me for a week.

      • At 2009.04.19 19:42, Lu said:

        I still do. I’ve been keeping a journal off and on for years now, but I only have the ones I’ve written since 10th grade. I’ve been neglecting them recently… I should definitely work on that.

        nat says: i can’t hold myself to writing during the year–i’m always running around. on vaction, i do write (most nights!) and that’s enough for me.

        • At 2009.04.19 19:49, Kimmy said:

          I think writing by hand is great! I still try to send real cards and letters to people as much as possible.

          I’ve also done a few travel journals back when I vacationed to Florida with my brother, aunt & uncle. I wrote down everything we said. We drove the whole way, which took about 18 hours, so the conversation got pretty interesting at times.

          nat says: i’m with you on longhand letters. i have old love letters from my hubby (and a few from my teen years, pre-hubby) that are so much better than an email would or could ever be…

          • At 2009.04.19 19:50, Stephanie of Stopbouncing said:

            I have long since disposed of my “I think Sean likes me!” diaries.
            I do however, still have my 15+ handwritten journals of bad teenage poetry and the travelogue from my California trip of 1997.
            Oh and there’s what The Mister has dubbed “The Book of Death” next to the bed; I record all of my horrible nightmares in hopes of banishing them or making a boatload of cash off my subconscious.

            Did you write down info (like dates, locations, suspects) on the backs of your old photos?

            nat says: ohhh, i could never dump my old diary…it’s hilarious! i never wrote any poetry and always name and date my photos.

            • At 2009.04.19 23:26, Hayden Tompkins said:

              I can’t even tell you how hard I cringed when I went through the journals that I kept during my relationship with my first love. PAIN.

              Looking back on my childhood journals isn’t much better. #1 on my list? “Be more feminine.” FEEL THE CRINGE, BABY.

              I can’t read them, I can’t get rid of them. I poured so much of my soul onto those pages. Did I mention the REAMS OF AWFUL POETRY?

              nat says: but the path we took as children and teens helped shape us into the adults we are today…and trust me, i’ve got some pretty cringe-worthy stuff in my diary too.

              • At 2009.04.20 00:56, pannonica said:

                I’ve purged many personal writings and documents over the years, even though I’m not what you’d call prolific.

                I just don’t think anything I have to say is that important to me or anyone else. No one’s going to want to unearth the progenitors of my Great American Novel because I’m not going to write the Great American Novel; no one’s going to examine my angst-ridden ponderings to gain insight into the psyche of someone famous because I’m neither destined for nor interested in celebrity; no one’s going to enjoy my idiosyncratic poetry, short stories, or novelinis, and so on.

                I occasionally come across some old jottings and am ambivalent about keeping or tossing, but it’s in the same way I wonder whether to keep old paycheck stubs or microprinted changes-to-credit-card-agreements.

                I’m more inclined to keep old drawings and paintings, especially from the periods before or after adolescence.

                Do you think schools, perhaps specialty or charter schools, will ever reinstate penmanship classes in this age of keyboarding, texting, and thumbing? Or is that something that some institutions already have in their curricula? You would know, right?

                nat says: i keep my stuff just for my own entertainment…not for any specific reason. as for reinstating the palmer method in schools? the kids i work with are high school aged…but one of the most common requests from them is, “can you teach us how to write in cursive???” oh, if only i had so much time.

                • At 2009.04.20 06:36, Sandra Novack said:

                  Hi there,

                  I stopped by today to check out your site and loved this post! When I am writing novels, I actually write chapters longhand, on legal pad. I find the act of writing this way slows me down and helps me think about the overall shape of things. I recently blogged my “process”, too, at No Name Writer. It’s a little frightening (the process) and tedious, but it generally works for me. 🙂

                  Looking forward to stopping by again, here, in a few weeks!

                  All Best,
                  Sandy

                  nat says: i just finished reading sandy’s novel Precious, and was floored by her literary style. i’ll be reviewing the book here on may 6th…

                  • At 2009.04.20 06:50, vivienne said:

                    I love your diaries – they are fab. I used to write one as a child, but ended up throwing them away after my mum read them. I still do a vacation journal as it helps me with my scrapbooking. Perhaps I should do a proper everday journal too.

                    nat says: oh, i could never keep up with a daily in addition to my two blogs…there’s not enough time in the day!!!

                    • At 2009.04.20 15:13, Karen said:

                      I love to write longhand and will always use that method when I can – computers stifle me I think! I was given my first journal by a favourie aunt when I was 6 and I have kept journals on and off since then – although I have not been as regular with the up keep lately!

                      • At 2009.04.20 16:15, Ruth @ Bookish Ruth said:

                        All of my book reviews are done in longhand before they get typed up and posted. Something about a pen and blank piece of paper inspires me in a way that a keyboard and blank screen just can’t equal. I also take copious handwritten notes while I’m reading. I have at least 12 composition notebooks filled with notes for books I’ve read in the past two years.

                        • At 2009.04.20 16:56, chartroose said:

                          You were a good writer for a 7 year old! Care over at Care’s Online Book Club does the journal thing, and I think My Friend Amy does too (although I could be wrong about her).

                          • At 2009.04.20 17:32, Jenners said:

                            Totally loved this!! I have some old diaries that I love to look at and laugh! Loved the peek into your journals, and I must admit, I don’t write much longhand anymore … gives me hand cramps! Wonderful post.

                            • At 2009.04.20 19:54, bethany canfield said:

                              I love this post! I was a huge Dear Diary girl 🙂 I would name each of mine and write tons of cool things. HA! I looked at them a little while back and realized I thought I was so smart and wise…oh, did I have things to learn! haha. They are very fun to look at though, if I can get over being annoyed by the younger me 🙂

                              • At 2009.04.20 21:55, Nadine said:

                                After three books I’ve discovered that nothing beats longhang when you’re stuck.

                                • At 2009.04.21 01:17, kay said:

                                  I’ve been keeping a journal since I was 8 or 9, and in my teen age I wrote almost daily! Now, I write it in mostly to keep an update on important life choices (moving, new job, etc.) I think I haven’t written anything in it for… 6 month, maybe more! Sometimes I miss it, but I don’t feel the need anymore!

                                  • At 2009.04.21 02:55, bybee said:

                                    I have several diary notebooks dating back to the early 2000s. Mostly alternate between bitching and ideas for saving money.

                                    • At 2009.04.21 14:04, thedailydish said:

                                      I have all of my old letters and postcards, but I never kept much of a diary. I do have a few high school notebooks I used to pass w/ friends. Those pre-texting days..

                                      • At 2009.04.21 14:52, Megan said:

                                        Every night before I go to sleep, I faithfully write in a journal! Longhand, in cursive, blue pen… the whole nine yards. I kept a diary as a kid but stopped writing in it until I went to high school… and I haven’t stopped since! Over the past 10 years, I’ve filled 18 journals with notes, drawings, photos, etc., and I’m writing in No. 19 right now. I think I’m going to “borrow” a page from your blog post, haha… I love my diaries. I need to blog about them, too!

                                        • At 2009.04.21 17:51, Positively Present said:

                                          OMG. I had that exact same Hello Kitty journal. If I wasn’t hooked into the site by the great content, the journal definitely got me hooked. I have stacks and stacks of journals from my childhood (and one that looks EXACTLY like the one in the bottom right hand corner) and I can remember how much I loved writing in them.

                                          As for long hand…sadly I don’t really do this at all anymore. I occasionally jot down notes but it’s only if I’m not near my computer and later I’ll trasfer the ideas there. For me, it’s about keeping it safe. My computer has a password and I can back up my documents so that’s the main reason I prefer it. Plus, I can keep up with my racing thoughts a lot better when I’m typing. I just can’t handwrite fast enough.

                                          I love this post and love your blog! 🙂 I will definitely be back for more.

                                          http://positivelypresent.typepad.com

                                          • At 2009.05.06 00:30, Jessica Kennedy said:

                                            I really wish I did! I start and stop a hand written journal all the time! I really REALLY want to keep one. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow. It has to be a high quality journal though. I’m tired of getting cheap-o ones. Maybe that’s good though, cause I end up stopping anyway!

                                            My hubby and I used to use a comp book in HS to pass notes back and forth. We’d take turns writing in the book and hand it off between classes. Great stuff. Great memories.

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