I seem to be writing about my writing a fair bit recently, a wonderfully meta-scriptorial (if that’s the word for it) series of pieces that may or may not serve to help others get through their own writing experiences. I nurture the hope that they do, and I have some reason for that hope; I occasionally get comments from students that they have looked at what I have left here and used it to their own advantage. So that much is to the good–and I hope that I can offer more that will continue to be of aid, if not in my classroom, in the efforts of others in theirs and in their lives outside them.
In the spirit of discussing my own writing with an eye toward helping others with theirs, I offer the following comments, then, and note that I have recently returned to a practice I’d long employed and then too long set aside before taking it up again: journaling. Not long before I completed my student teaching, I started putting my pen to the pages of actual bound journals, doing so partly as a meditative act and partly because, with the looming completion of my undergraduate studies, I felt quite adult and thought that keeping such a record was the kind of thing that an adult ought to do. I kept the practice up, albeit not as regularly or thoroughly as I ought to have done, across the years of my graduate study and past it, finally wearing out in May 2017, when I faltered and failed to keep up with my intent, and I let the intention go as I had so many others.
Or I tried to do so, at least. Really, I had no more success in setting aside my journal-writing and my regrets about it than I have had about leaving academia (about which I’ve also done a fair bit of writing in recent memory); the uncompleted volume of my journal stared at me form my desk, eyeless but still with plaintively blaming gaze, and as often as I looked again at academic job listings, I berated myself for not taking up my pen again. (That is to say “entirely too damned often.”) And so I acquiesced at length to that particular urge, and I picked up a leather-bound journal once again, beginning to put my pen to it–and using pens long given to me as gifts, to boot, rather than the plastic throw-away things I had been using.
It has only been a few days since I have returned to the practice, to be sure, but I already feel better about my writing from doing so. My pen-hand is still quite poor, admittedly, but more than a decade of fairly regular practice in the earlier journals had not improved it, so I am not surprised that it has remained as ugly as it ever was. More importantly, I feel myself better able to put words together in some semblance of legible order–something I attribute to the resumption of more practice writing, and doing so engaging more of myself than typing allows. For when I write with pen, I invoke different muscle memories than those I use when I type, and the added engagement of the kinesthetic–and the olfactory, with the ink, paper, and leather each having their own aroma–brings more to me and so calls more from me. I have to think it helps me, and I need all the help I can get.