journaling FAQ

questions about me

when did you start journaling?

I started keeping a regular diary/journal in August 2011.

how often do you journal?

...when I feel like it. seriously. I knew from the moment I started that forcing myself to do it every day wasn't going to work for me. usually, I write at least 4-5 times a week. sometimes every day. sometimes I miss days. sometimes I miss a whole week. to be honest, sometimes I use my journal as an excuse to hide—I would write during class, or at events. when I'm happy, sometimes I'm to busy living to worry about writing. when I'm feeling low, sometimes it all becomes the same sad thoughts over and over and I don't see the point. how often I write has a lot to do with what's going on in my life. but I've never missed more than two consecutive weeks.

what do you write about?

short answer: whatever I want.
medium answer: my feelings, mostly. my thoughts. what I'm doing.

why do you call it a journal and not a diary?

a) I thought calling it a diary was embarassing. or, at least, I did when I was 15. (for the record, there is nothing embarassing about keeping a diary.)

b) there is a distinction. mostly, my journals could be called diaries. they are a private, (almost) daily record of my experiences, thoughts, and feelings. but then there's the practice of journaling, which involves self-reflection. it's not merely writing down what happened, but trying to make sense of it. and that's a big part of why I still do it.

what does your journal look like?

since I've been a writer of fiction for a long while, friends and family used to get me journals and notebooks as gifts. so I don't have a "standard" journal. I have a few preferences: a narrow-ruled, bound notebook which lays flat. small enough to carry easily. a pocket in the back is a bonus. but I've also written in spiral coil notebooks, notebooks with some blank and some lined pages, thin journals and chonky ones.

things are just as varied on the inside. when I started out, it was black ink only. just words, no sketches or doodles in the margins. as the years have gone on, I've experimental with collages, monthly spreads, things that edge into art journal or bullet journal territory. nowadays, it's still mostly black text. I write in a messy, mostly-cursive handwriting. I print or draw a calendar for each month. and—I've always done this—I'll tape or paperclip in things like tickets stubs, printed emails, or other paper ephemera I want to hold on to.

why do you write by hand? why not make it digital?

oh, lots of reasons. I love the physical act of flipping through a book. it's harder for people to quickly read my handwriting over my shoulder. my emotions are also communicated through my handwriting. I can clip in all those ticket stubs and such. it's easy to carry with me wherever I go. in school, it just looked like I was taking notes. it's nice not to worry about a hard drive crashing or my (very private!!!) thoughts up there in the cloud. and frankly, I like that I can't just search for keywords and stuff. the archivist in me gets frustrated when I remember writing something but can't find it. but I think it keeps me moving forward. plus, I have the delight of being surprised by things! I can open to a random page and relive that day.

as a side note—there are lots of things I preserve digitally! home movies, for example, which I started editing when I was around 12. audio journals, which I started recording sporadically in university. often, I'll write out text messages I want to keep, but sometimes I'll screenshot conversations or archive emails. and I use tiddlywiki to organize & record lots of other things in my life. you can do amazing, creative things with a digital journal.

what do you do with your journals after you've filled them?

I keep them! they are the archive of my life. I like to revisit them from time to time, though I only vary rarely sit down and read one. usually I'm looking for a specific date, or just flipping through to jog my memory. when I'm finished writing in a journal, I tag it (with its # in sequence & dates covered) and put it on the shelf with the others.

aren't you worried about someone reading them?

you know what? I'm not. and that's a lucky position to be in. I trust my family and friends not to read them. though I sometimes worry about who will read them when I die. not a big deal if I'm, like, 90, but possibly a bigger deal if I die tomorrow. especially because there are other people's secrets in there. that's what I really worry about.


short answer: because I must.

wait—if you call it a journal, and you write by hand, why do you call yourself the digital diar—

oh, shut up.

real answer: because I am a diarist, and this is a digital space, and it's a good title.