My first serious writings go back to childhood when I kept diaries and wrote letters by hand. I loyally (well, as much as a pre-teen can) wrote to various pen pals, like my grandmother, and then sporadically used small diaries, secured by tiny locks and keys. I was a better letter writer than a diarist. My early attempts at journaling in the diaries show my self-consciousness. It still feels self-indulgent to write about myself. But, welcome to my blog (ironic wink here😉).
What I appreciate about those early writings is the demarcation of time. My age, the date, my thoughts show where my head was at. You can image at 12: "No one will ever love me for X, Y, Z reason!" Ouch.
I stopped journaling in high school and college. It wasn't until about ten years ago that I took up writing to myself in random notebooks, but those were mainly to start the novel I couldn't get out of my head. I'd take the kids' abandoned Pokeman spiral notebooks from school and re-love them. Then friends, my husband, other writers, started giving me tiny journals. I have a nice collection. I didn't become suddenly prolific though. Maybe I became more diligent at jotting the occasional gem of an idea down. There was also an index card phase (which I've recently revived), and I was not above using a crayon.
By no means do I have an astounding collection of handwritten work. What I do have are snapshots of the past. They tell me who I was at a time when I was wondering who I was. Sometimes, more often than I'd care to admit, my writing didn't go much beyond "no one will ever love me" (no winking here).
Recently, I flipped through a notebook in my drawer and picked a nearly blank one to find a poem I couldn't remember writing and the title of a book, which I've since read. Both notes to myself were several years old, both a remembrance of what was going on then, the life stuff, the good and the bad. Ironically, I just mentioned the name of the book to someone and went on to describe the gist of the story, which was darkly dystopian.
My point is: notebooks are like hieroglyphics, and mine are a mirror. Sometimes it's nice to see your old self; sometimes I wish I looked different.