Rekindling my Journaling with the Day One App

Aug 26, 2022 in Writing

A snapshot of my Day One photos. I take these for myself, so some of them are silly.

I've been off-and-on journaling for many years. Like most things I do in my free time, I tend to wax and wane on passion for the task.

I've revisited my Day One app the past month and I am finding it incredibly enjoyable to jot down thoughts again. It's incredibly helpful that I don't set any boundaries or expectations for myself in what I capture. Sometimes it's a simple sentence, others it's a photo. Getting into the habit again has got me feeling happy about writing things down.

I've also been pushing myself to take more photos during the week as a way to capture my day. Knowing that the photos are just for me helps me not care so much about content, framing or anything other than getting the moment captured. Day One allows me to pull these in after the fact and note my thoughts or just leave it as a snapshot of my day.

Revisiting my timeline has also been a treasure lately. Day One surfaces entries from years past with an 'On This Day' category. It's nice to look back and see what was happening in my life. Having this all completely outside of any social media or online setting really feels empowering. I'm now journaling for my own pleasure, knowing that a future me will look back and smile (or cry, judging by how bad some of my photos are).

Day One makes it easy to capture your thoughts, which is important if you want to ensure you build a solid habit. Starting small, with easy steps can help get yourself into a habit. Friction from how an app works, or more likely how well it doesn't work, will eventually cause you to lose interest.

The app also tags your entries automatically with the date, time, location, weather and other metrics you can toggle on and off. I like being able to visit my timeline and switch to map view to see posts I wrote when I was on vacation or traveling.

I've been reading a lot of blog content lately on writing blog content. It seems retarded in a way, but I'm looking at it as a way to reinforce my own writing, whether it's here on my site or in my journal. The act of writing down your thoughts is powerful, and it can have lasting, positive effects. It helps me think through things in ways that just reading or thinking alone can't.

Matthias Ott had a great post recently titled "Just Put Stuff Out There" that really resonated.

Here is a thought. Maybe, we are overthinking it. Maybe, the one thing we should care most about is just putting stuff out there.

Matthias Ott

The same concept goes for journaling. Don't over-think it. You are writing for yourself here, not for the public. Your future self is your audience.

So many small bits of life happen in a year that shape who you are. Unless you have some photographic memory, you're going to forget these things. Maybe you'll remember bits and pieces, but having a photo and/or some thoughts on the day will reopen those memories like nothing else.

A related blog post from Jim Nielsen notes these important thoughts:

Each voice is individual and matters

Slow is ok

Diversified and independent is good

Not fitting a pattern is ok

Not being easily commodified is ok

Jim Nielsen's Blog

I know I'm quoting people about blogging here but writing about journaling. The concept is the same to me. Write for yourself first. Write often, even if you have some nagging, weird feeling it's dumb. Take some pictures just for you to remember something. Take a picture of the sidewalk, a tree, your patio, or your face. Toss a sentence in about what made you take that photo and then walk away and live life until the next moment you want to capture comes along. Your future self will look back and remember. And that is worth every second you may have felt you wasted taking the time to write.

The NYT wrote about Day One a few years back and it's still a good read.

Day One creates something so rare it feels almost sacred: A completely private digital space.

Farhad Manjoo

If you're on the fence about journaling, just start. Use an app, or grab a pen and some paper. The medium doesn't matter. Just write.