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Ask HN: What do you want your journaling habits to be?
8 points by banjodeluxe 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments
I've been trying to journal for some time now, never quite stuck with the habit. I'm trying to make a tool that will work for me and I think its interesting to know what other people would like from something like this, maybe add some of the suggestions. Thank you!

Each morning, I make a new .md file in my Notes directory and start writing my thoughts from the previous evening until that moment. I'll leave the file open the for the rest of the day and jot down what I'm working on, problems I run into, things I need to do, general thoughts, quotes. It ends up being endless stream of incoherence. I guess its not really journal journal-ling in the traditional sense but act of writing almost everything into one repository helps me progress through revision.

I do a very similar thing, but into a single text file using a simple bash script so writing to the file takes 1 keypress to start and 2 ENTERs to end. Then every week or 3 I sort the contents of that file into the appropriate chapter/section in the half dozen LaTeX books I'm writing. For decades I filled notebooks and never looked at them again. Now it's beautifully organized and easy to locate. I just wish I'd started doing this 30 years ago! Well, 30 years ago started a diary, which I kept going for 25+ years. But that's very different to notes on everything you think about, links, pictures, quotes, programs, things learnt, etc.

That's a really interesting way of capturing thoughts, thanks for sharing!

Posted this here a few times in response to this q: I use an app that I made myself (http://write.itskrish.co), its defining features being:

1. you choose a fixed duration of time within which to journal (i choose 15 minutes even though it is initially tough to spend all of)

2. if you stop typing for more than a few seconds within the duration, you lose your writing

These constraints basically force me to dump anything and everything on my mind for the sake of continuous typing (to not lose what i've written), and I've been successfully doing it at least 1-2 times a week for a few years now. All your entries are also saved locally in-browser only, with the option to export a savefile. Source code: https://github.com/krrishd/write

Haha nice idea..Don't think I could do that - wouldn't want to lose what I wrote, but I like it. Sounds like "morning pages", the idea from the Artist's Way books. The idea is to write 3 pages quickly (by hand) every morning - exactly as you say, just dumping from your mind, writing anything without editing or censoring. You do that every morning without rereading. I tried that years ago for a few weeks, it's definitely worth trying. Especially good if you're stressed or have to unload emotions somewhere.

That's a great idea, I'll take a look

I've been thinking about journaling a lot lately, but haven't done it regularly in years. I'm going to crosspost my response to another currently active HN thread to provide different perspective from the ones posted here:

"Funny, I just ordered a pocket notebook for the first time in years today. I'm curious to see what contingent of people on HN still use a physical notebook. I also use orgmode extensively to keep track of my intentions, media preferences, notes, and stray ideas, but it doesn't really scratch the same itch as a physical notebook.

The reason I had to order a physical notebook online is because I wanted a pocket notebook with no lines, dots, or grids on the pages, which is surprisingly hard to find. I'm attracted to the non-linear approach to notebooking, and plan to fill this one with content in a random page-order as things strike me. Sometimes I just have a cool thought or sentence, or just want to slowly fill a page with something, and it can really help your creativity solidify to have a trailing log of your weird random inspirations. Sometimes I just transcribe lines from a song or book I like, or write down something someone said. Some pages are just geometric shapes. Rarely, I'll make a simple "today this happened and this is how I felt about it" page. By the time you fill it up you have a really organic document that can help you understand what makes you unique and what you like / care about in your daily life, without the stress of writing a cohesive or linear work."

The reason I shared this here is because I'm not entirely sure that software can replicate what I'm looking for from journaling. I'm just not likely to look back through entries in a software format, or treat it as anything other than a log. The most flexible solution I know of is probably TiddlyWiki, although even with TW you can't get that direct-to-brain connection you get from pen and paper. I may be an edge case though, good luck!

Thanks for your answer. I actually have been carrying a physical notebook for years. It keeps me organised and helps me remember things, but I've found it difficult to be disciplined with journaling - I'm currently thinking software might help in solving that, in sending me a reminder to journal and a quick way to put down a few thoughts everyday. I'll report back on how it goes!

I've been keeping a journal for about 4 years now. I try to write every 2-3 about anything and everything: ideas, habits, my feelings, events that happened, things that come to mind. I find it's an amazing tool for introspection and has made me much more aware of what I'm worried about.

I've written about this in more detail here: https://jborichevskiy.com/posts/journaling/

When I try to imagine my ideal journaling tool, I think it would be a desktop (and mobile) app with two distinct modes:

1. Distraction-free, focused entry. A blank entry and a blinking cursor. This is great for very open-ended writing where I have no idea where it will go - just stream of consciousness and following it. Usually in this mode I'm in a comfortable, quiet environment (my room at night, coffee shop, hotel).

2. Ideation/connection/writing mode. This is a hypothesis I've been meaning to test in more detail but I'd be curious to have a mode where as soon as I type a word or a phrase, I instantly see previous references to this top float up from below, links and references I've saved to the right, email discussions I've mentioned it in, tweets I've liked about it. Basically, frictionless access to other thoughts and formulations of the idea I'm thinking about to make writing about it easier. I don't know if this would actually help matters, but I am curious to try (or build) something like it.

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