When I planned to start journaling with everyone I was immediately drawn to using a physical journal. I love to pick up a journal, thick with time, wisdom and experience, and know that it’s a part of my soul within the pages. But why go paper when everything today is digital?
I have tried to journal with Evernote in the past, I even have an Evernote notebook called Diary. But I used it so infrequently that its meaning was lost. It just didn’t feel like part of me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Evernote, but it’s a reference tool, not a piece of me. This goes for other digital “logging” or journal apps too. They limit my creativity to basic text. I know that many apps can capture photos, audio and everything else too, Evernote included, but even though I prefer just to write, I need to be able to express myself in more than typed fonts. This expression could be as basic as a change in handwriting style, little pictures drawn into the margin, or even full page pictures that take some time to do.
There’s also the feeling of accomplishment. After writing an entry in your journal you can sit back and just take in the sum of everything you have written down and have it immediately in context of all your prior writing. And when the book is filled and you put it on the shelf it’s a huge feeling to know that part of who you are has been capture and will live on forever.
With journal apps there’s just way too much opportunity for distractions. I can’t be trying to write a journal entry and then see a Facebook notification, a tweet or an email arrive. These things try to impede your flow. They will try to stop you focusing on finding yourself and tempt you to follow them. The result is that what you write doesn’t really have any meaning because you’re not focusing 100% of who you are on it, or you only write down a couple of words so that you can get back to whatever it is that is distracting you, or, you don’t write down anything at all! Using a physical journal instantly removes all of those distractions – just make sure your phone is silent and no where near you when you sit down to write, and of course that your laptop/computer is shut down and out of site.
Be The Words
Using a journal book and a pen gives me the chance to slow down, way down. I can type pretty fast and even as I type this post out on my iPad (using the Evernote app), I can type faster than I can write, which is great, and let’s me throw down anything that comes into my mind. However, by switching to blank paper I’m forced to take more time to write (so that I’ll actually be able to read it later). This also results in giving me more time to process my thoughts and let them stew in my mind some, to let them morph and evolve and birth new thoughts so that I might also see where they take me. When I type I feel myself wanting to type so fast because my mind is running a million miles an hour and I just…can’t…get…words…onto..the…page…fast enough! Because writing forces me to slow down I can then start to be creative with phrasing, language and vocabulary and really immortalise my thoughts and feelings in a manner that does them justice.
A pen does not have a backspace. Any mistake will be captured forever. I believe this is a great thing! Looking back I’ll be able to see the start of different thoughts. This will be a great insight and legacy into who I am and how my mind works. There’s no way to move text on the page, to “cut and paste” it elsewhere (unless you really do break out the scissors and glue). Instead imagine what your journal will be like when you have arrows and sketches annotating thoughts and moving them in place. You’ll be able to see your mind and its inner workings laid out on every page.
A physical journal is more than just words on a page. Every word has weight and texture. You can feel the indents the ink has left in the paper. You can smell the creativity and experience in every page and your fingers will grip the cover with authority and ownership. I love opening a book and riffling the pages so that the smell of knowledge pours out. It is a scent like no other.
It’s a Personal Thing
Everything you’ve read here is my personal opinion. You may find that you write better using a digital journal. You may be visually creative and can translate your thoughts using something like Photoshop. The point is that your journal is all about you. Whatever medium you go with, it should say something about who you are. It should become part of you. It will be the musings of your mind immortalised. It’s all about you, for you!
Your Next Actions
I want you to spend the next day or so thinking about the kind of journal you want to use. What will work best for you? Do you like to write by hand and focus on nothing else, or would you rather capture everything digitally? Once you pick a medium you should be committed to it, a journal means nothing if there are pieces scattered in different places. Really ask yourself if you’re likely to be distracted if you use a digital journal. The journal writing challenge is for you.