I’ve been keeping a journal regularly since 1980, and I still journal today. But, though I’ve journaled regularly, I haven’t always journaled consistently. And by consistently, I’m talking about paper vs. digital.
I can type a hell of a faster than I can write, so at several points during my life, I’ve decided to move my journaling into a digital journaling app. The one I use currently is DayOne though I used a couple of different ones in the past.
Below are some reasons why I like both mediums.
I liked the idea of digital journaling because:
- I can type a lot faster than I can write and can get my words down quicker. It can take me around 45 minutes to write an entry, whereas I can do it in fifteen with a digital journal.
- Easy to organize — all entries are organized by date, making specific entries quick to find.
- Easier on the wrists – I’ve had troubles with wrists pain for years, and it primarily acts up after long handwriting sessions.
- Shorter journaling sessions – more time to do other things.
- Searchable – I can find what I’m looking for more easily than searching through stacks of filled journal books.
- Easy to include images.
- Cloud Backups – my digital journals are backed up to the cloud, so I never have to worry about losing years’ worth of data.
- Flexibility – I love that I can type in my journal entries into my phone, iPad, or laptop. I don’t need to worry about lugging a book with me wherever I go.
- Privacy – I don’t have to worry about someone snooping through my entries because my DayOne journal is password-protected, encrypted, and stored in the cloud. In contrast, anyone with access to my drawers at home can rifle through or even steal my paper journals. I also don’t have to worry about losing my journals to a natural disaster such as a house fire.
- Easy to read — I have to admit that my handwriting is atrocious, and sometimes even I can’t make out what I’ve written.
- Editing is easier — If I make typos or write a bad sentence, I can quickly correct it. I’m not stuck with a misspelled word in perpetuity.
- Sharable – it’s easy to share a digital journal entry with others with the click of the mouse. I don’t tend to do this, but I’m aware it’s an essential feature for others.
But the thing with digital journals is that I tend to lose interest in them after a while and find myself returning back to paper.
I like the paper journaling because:
- I love the tactile feel of paper. Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing it for so many years, but paper feels right to me.
- Enjoying the process — because it takes longer to get words on the page, this causes you to slow down and enjoy what you’re doing.
- More thoughtful posts — Slowing down also causes me to think more about what I’m writing.
- Entry quality – when rereading my entries, I find that my handwritten ones are more descriptive and evocative. I also tend to write about more personal things when using paper for some reason.
- Retention — It is said that a person retains information better from long-hand writing than typing and that what you write sticks in your memory better.
- Feels more personal. Because I spend all day at the screen staring at my impersonal computer, I look forward to the time when I can spend with my paper journal — it’s like sitting down with a friend for a cup of coffee. It’s also nice to give my eyes a break from the screen.
- Fees more natural — The screen also feels impersonal and unnatural to me. Paper feels good in my hands as compared to a keyboard.
- Ascetically pleasing – I love buying and writing in beautiful paper journals. Right now, I’m using a Paperblanks old leather journal.
- I don’t need to worry about finding a power source or my batteries running out of juice. I can use a paper journal anywhere (well, maybe except for the bathtub).
- Can doodle, draw and make art more easily in your entries. It’s a lot easier to draw on paper than on a screen. Though there are apps that allow you to draw, it would take many steps to get it into your digital journal. That being said, drawing enables you to beautify your entries any way you like.
So which one?
So I should choose one and stick with it, right? I wish! For years, I have gone back and forth between paper journals and digital journals. At one point, I started transcribing some of my paper journals into my digital app but gave it up after a while as it was too enormous of a task to undertake when my life was so busy. I may get back to it at some point.
So as it stands, I find myself seesawing back and forth every few months. After a few months of writing out long-hand entries, I’ll decide that it’s taking too much time to do it by hand and return to the computer for efficiency. Then, after a few months of typing out my entries, I’ll decide that I’m sick of staring at a screen all the time and return to my paper entries. This is results in quite an inconsistent system of journaling, with half of my entries in paper books and half in DayOne. If anyone ever tries to pull together my journals, they’ll have one hell of a confusing time of it.
But given that I don’t intend my journals to be read by others, I suppose it doesn’t matter that they’re scattered all over the place, though I still think I’d like to have everything in one journaling app one day. So maybe transcribing my journals into DayOne might be a good retirement activity down the road. Hopefully, voice-to-text software will have improved by then.