Confession: I have been keeping a journal off and on since second grade.

So – since 1981, basically.

Haven’t kept it day by day, year by year, all the way through. There are some gaps. Some spells where I wrote in it religiously.

Then the Digital Age was thrust upon us and my journaling went dormant. Again. But for a shockingly lengthy span of time. A few handwritten entries here and there when I felt the need, but nothing that kickstarted the effort again.

And then…though my inner Luddite shudders to admit this…I came across a journaling app called Day One.


photo source

Actually, I didn’t come across it. Like the Digital Age itself, Day One sortof plopped on my head and screamed: “Hey! Notice me!”

Meaning: It was free through my Starbucks app, one of roughly 60 that congest my iPhone on a daily basis. When I saw what the free Starbucks “app of the week” was, I was immediately skeptical.

A journaling app. On my phone. How hypocritical, I thought. What would I do with that?

A harmless rhetorical question, right? But I was hypocritical enough to be curious. So I downloaded the app to find out.

Two weeks in and I must admit, I am liking the stupid little thing. In fact, it’s pretty darn savvy. Allows for a photo in each entry, but not a glut of them. Easy to use and edit. Can get a little TMI in trying to attach location, temperature, and weather conditions of your immediate moment while you’re composing, but…um…I’m using that feature, too. And it’s actually kinda cool, though I’d understand if it completely wigs other people out.

Other cool features: Exporting to PDF (and from there to Evernote or iBooks or Kindle apps). Timeline feature. Calendar. Tags. Simple, elegant fonts.

Of course I’m not putting anything crazy personal in a digital journal. I still want to use my paper-and-pen journals for the soul-searching entries. Also – people steal iPads and iPhones. They don’t, as a general rule, break into people’s homes and steal old notebooks with duct-taped binding, some of which are scrawled with an unnecessarily flamboyant middle school flair.

But with four jobs and a double scoop of family life lumped on top of that, plus – oh, I don’t know, a couple manuscripts in the fire and a pottery business still somewhat on the back burner – a digital journal is probably about all I can manage at this point. (Case in point: I am typing this up at almost 2am on a workday, which is probably not a wise idea. But if I were to blog, or journal, or do lesson plans all by hand at this point, nothing – I repeat, NOTHING – would ever get done. Ever.)

As for the digital journaling experience itself – the most surprising thing (for me) so far is that it has not only revived my love of journaling, it’s made the process bookish and painless enough that I can almost get over it not happening with pen and paper. (Though I do prefer using the app on my iPad over my iPhone, just for the record.) Moreover, I think that my journaling voice is the same as before – at least, I hope it is. I suppose I should do a comparison.

But the point remains: I’m back to journaling, and that means a lot, at least to me.

After all, I’ve been doing this since 1981, for crying out loud. I can’t quit now. With 34 years of journaling behind me, I need another 34 to lump on top of that. I can’t let the Digital Age interfere with the stories I choose to tell myself.

What about you? Do you keep a journal? If so, how? Have any of you tried the Day One app? Let me know in the comments!