On Paper / by ABMann

I hit a wall with both my journaling and my writing recently that I’ve been chewing on how to break through.


  1. I really don’t like having my journal spread across so many things.
  2. I don’t go back and re-read my written journals.

I’ve become disillusioned with it (even though I’m still doing it).

Regarding #1 I currently use a number of things to track my daily life. Instagram. Twitter. Paper. Tumblr. Evernote (work). OneNote (work). It is (mostly) too much and I dislike that, in order to get a sense of my daily thoughts or assess the things that matter, I have to check all of these things.

The only thing I’ve been using consistently is Day One. I use it to compose blog entries or other correspondence I want to preserve. It’s a really well done application that I really enjoy using.

For a while, I’d been using some tools to dump most of those social things into Day One but it was fragile. It sort of worked for a few months but about 9 months ago died an unfixable death.

Regarding #2 It feels like a waste that I don’t review my [paper] journal. There is just something that infuriates me when I look at a wall of scrawl[1]. It’s just not going to happen in any useful capacity after the fact.

But: I love the act of writing. I ruminate. I muse. I mentally unwind more when writing by hand and I don’t want to lose that. It’s just ugly.

Just so ghastly to behold

So… what am I going to do about it? I realized a few things this morning. First, this isn’t a problem with any digital format. I still re-read my LiveJournal. Second, and most importantly: I’ve solved this before. Around the same time I started writing, I retooled my work GTD system to ensure everything ends up in a single place. Having that one place in a tool that everyone at the company uses is satisfying and useful.

Furthermore, I had already incorporated a way to capture all the necessary notes for later reworking. And in that process had made peace with the blocks of scrawl. I take copious meeting notes now, by hand, and they all end up in my note repository a few days later. The key?

I don’t transcribe it. I summarize, highlight key concepts for inclusion in the digital version of that meeting’s notes and simply attach a photo of the written notes.

Why don’t i just do that? As is, I have a number of tools I enjoy using and, what’s best, a way to stick them all together in Day One via IFTTT and Hazel on my Mac.

So I will.

Each morning, I’ll still be journaling. When I’m done, I will take a picture of the entry pages and summarize the key points or ideas. Then IFTTT and Hazel will keep sticking all my social feeds into Day One and I have my entire life in one place in a format that I actually enjoy using and reviewing.

It seems so obvious now that I think it’ll stick.

[1]: My handwriting has vaguely improved in the last 5 months of writing but only marginally. Though, I noted this week after some brainstorming, my whiteboard writing is leaps and bounds better than it just to be.