My Life in 10 Objects: (# 8) Pen and Notebooks

August 23, 2014

” . . . the tools we use to write, read, and otherwise manipulate information work on our minds even as our minds work with them . . .”
— Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

Inexpensive spiral bound notebooks -- I write in one nearly every day.

Inexpensive spiral bound notebooks — I write in one nearly every day.

“I believe I write to analyze, clarify, understand and perceive life.  I write in order to see more clearly. . . . It is my lens through which to see myself and the world.”
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Against Wind and Tide:  Letters and Journals 1947 – 1986

“Writing is thinking.  It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Locked Rooms and Open Doors

I write in one of my cheap, spiral notebooks almost every day.  I call my notebooks “commonplace books” rather than journals or diaries because I rarely write out my own personal thoughts or reflections in them.  So my notebooks are not places to practice creative writing.  Rather, I use the notebooks to capture and collect passages from books that I read.  Writing out interesting quotes longhand slows down my reading so that I can spend a little time reflecting on themes that are important to me — travel, art, creativity, aging, death, nature, walking, silence and solitude, healthy eating, handwork, etc.

I can think best with a pen or pencil in my hand.  I like the tactile feel of a pen held in my fingers; I like the calligraphic thin black line of my personal handwriting; I like the smooth surface of the paper.  I do compose and write my blog posts directly on a computer, but why give up the pleasures of writing by hand for my personal notebooks?  They are just for me, and I don’t need to be efficient or tech savvy in this part of my life.  My pen and notebooks are tools to help me think.

“Wanting to write not with the idea necessarily of becoming an author — not necessarily with the idea of becoming even a teacher of writing — but with the idea of living a meaningful, reflective life:  that is a very superior motivation.”
— Carol Bly, Beyond the Writer’s Workshop: New Ways to Write Creative Non-Fiction




3 Responses to “My Life in 10 Objects: (# 8) Pen and Notebooks”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    I’ve known so many people who swear by handwriting in journals, whether their own thoughts or those of others. I’ve really tried, hoping for the same good results everyone talks about: deeper appropriation of others’ words, more opportunity to reflect, and so on. It just doesn’t work, for me.

    For one thing, a keyboard allows me to keep up with my thoughts while writing. If I try writing by hand, I can lose a thought before I get half-way through it. And while I appreciate the thought that hand-writing allows a deeper appropriation of others’ words, I find I can accomplish the same thing at the keyboard — perhaps because I have fairly good typing skills and can capture a few paragraphs lickety-split.

    In short, I agree with everything you say about the value of writing down passages, reflections, and so on. I just find the keyboard my useful tool.

    Of course, I might think differently, were it not for the fact that arthritis in my hands can make the very act of writing quite painful after only a few minutes!

    • Rosemary Says:

      I never took typing and I am not proficient on a keyboard. So many typos, which dismay me. I do like the cut and paste aspect of word processing, though. It is easier to edit and reorganize paragraphs and phrases on a computer.

  2. […] My Life in 10 Objects (#8): Pen and Notebooks, August 23, 2014 […]

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