Handwritten notes and thoughts are very personal, aren’t they? Maybe it’s that we so often correspond with loved ones in typed forms–text, emails, printed Christmas letters, Facebook posts–but I love to see actual handwriting, especially the handwriting of my loved ones. As I type this, I can picture my sister’s writing and my husband’s writing and my mom’s. All different, all a marker of who they are.

When one of those precious hands takes the time to write me a note, I’m like a groupie who got a rock star’s signature. “He touched this! He actually touched this! And he wrote something! To me!”

Okay, so I’m exaggerating. But isn’t it special to get a note? Someone took the time to express something important, and now you have a memento of it to keep. Depending on what it is, future generations may even see it and consider it a precious heirloom.

The Apostle Paul seems to agree to the importance of handwritten notes. He used his own handwriting to stress points in his letters to the Galatians and the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians, he throws in the fact that he’s sending a greeting in his “own hand right” after encouraging believers to greet each other “with a holy kiss.” Could it be that he saw handwriting as the closest thing he could offer, given the distance?

Whether it’s a note from someone else, a journal, or (for a writer like me) an old version of a story, coming across a few lines from the past is a telling reminder of where we’ve been. It’s us and/or our loved ones in our unedited form–or at least, our unedited form is there below the scribbles. Our progression from one thought to another is there, the conclusions we came to. When we look back, it’s like seeing a snapshot of our mindset, showcasing what we really thought was true at the time. We can cherish that feeling of a connection to the past or we can be glad we’ve come so far. We can remember what used to be important to us and perhaps realign our priorities.

This is what I found, anyway, when a picture of another writer’s notebook inspired me to page through my own. When I edit on computer, I usually edit right over old drafts so when they’re gone, they’re gone. But I occasionally take out a notebook and work there.

In my notebook, which I admittedly hadn’t opened in a couple of months, I found the very first scene of the manuscript I finished writing in January, except it had changed quite a bit over the course of the story–changed for the better, thankfully. I also found some of the brainstorming and drafting I did when I wrote “A Thing of Beauty,” the short story my email subscribers receive as a thank you.

Thanks to the fact that I occasionally write things out, I had the chance to look back at these things. Because of the treasures I found there, I’m more dedicated to using my notebook once in a while. I’m also more conscious of the value  of writing notes to people I love. When I give cards out for Valentine’s Day, you can bet they’re going to include an extra handwritten sentence or two. I hope you’ll consider doing the same.

In this spirit, as yet another thank you to those of you who subscribe to my emails and took the time to read “A Thing of Beauty,” I hope you’ll take a close look over at the bottom expert from my notebook. It’s an expanded scene from the story I’m honestly not sure why I cut down to just one line. I hope you enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at brainstorming and writing! (If you’d like to read the whole thing, there’s a form in the right sidebar to sign up for emails.)

Have more time to read today? I’m honored to have contributed a poem to this post on love over on Christina Hubbard’s beautiful blog Creative and Free. 

How often do you write things out by hand? Do you ever look back at your journals, notes, and cards?