I reached the end of a notebook today. Flipping through a full notebook is a trip.
Do you ever wish for a time machine to your past? Keep a journal. You can’t change anything when you look back, but you can probably learn from the experience.
I spent half an hour rereading old pages from this notebook. Sometimes my words are vivid. They flow clearly. My handwriting is never easy to read, but I can surprise myself on good days. On other occasions, the words are barely distinguishable from the scribbled ravings of a madman. I switch tenses mid-sentence. I forget to finish thoughts.
When I do write by hand, I use the same notebook for everything. I collect rules and tools for writing. I write grocery lists. I work out story problems. I brainstorm blog ideas. I fill the pages with random sketches of places and people, and poems, and ideas for new books.
The variety suits me. Work and pleasure can share a page. Here, I ring in the New Year. There, I bitch about work. Next, I talk about dog training with Elsa.
I take down quotes that sing to me, like this one from the HALT AND CATCH FIRE, an AMC series about the PC revolution in 1980s Dallas:
The magic of writing is that every page conjures a snapshot of the past. I learn a lot about myself this way—the writing and the looking back.
Browsing resurfaces old ideas, like these koans I wrote and promptly forgot.
It also sparks new ideas. Case in point: I should write by hand more.
I’m starting a new notebook today.
I challenge you to share photos of your own notebook or journal on Twitter, Instagram, or your own blog. Don’t forget to come back and post a link in the comments!