As I approach my fourth month on the road, I continue to refine and optimize the gear that I carry with me. My rule, which I’ve slightly modified because I now also bring a camera bag, is that everything that I have must fit in my 40-liter pack. That means that each item that I carry is scrutinized for its efficacy and long-term value. Some things I keep with me, while others like my paper journal, I discard.
Before I bought a camera in Ho Chi Minh City, I always took my Midori Traveler’s Notebook in a tiny shoulder bag. That way, it was always at the ready whenever I wanted to write, whether in a coffee shop, a street bench, over lunch, wherever. But my camera displaced my notebook bag since I found carrying them both to be too cumbersome. As a result, I found that I only journaled in my hotel room which wasn’t good because most of my inspiration comes while walking, and is long gone by the time I’ve returned.
Paper journals also take up space and add weight. Along with my leather journal cover, I have six months or more of heavy paper inserts. I’m surprised at how much these things weigh.
So I’ve switched to using Day One.
Since my iPhone is always with me, Day One is always with me. That allows me to journal whenever, and wherever, I want. Initially, I feared that the iPhone’s small keyboard would prove problematic since I type with it using one finger, but I’ve found a rhythm that helps bring flow to my thoughts. Because of that, my writing output has increased, and I’m capturing more memories and ideas than ever.
Day One also allows me to add photos to journal entries, which is something that I couldn’t do promptly with my paper journal (and in practice never did). Often, while I’m at a coffee shop, I’ll transfer photos taken on my walk from my camera to Lightroom, and edit them on my phone over tea. With Day One I’m able to add my favorite pictures into a journal entry and write about them. Or I can attach a screenshot of a favorite quote I’ve found online that I want to remember or write about.
And, although my journal needs seem rudimentary to me (I’m not worried about voice transcription, IFTT, or so many of the other features that I’m sure more advanced users love), I particularly love Day One’s interface. It’s clean, intuitive, and invites writing. Interface is king, and so many other journal apps I’ve looked at just haven’t cracked that nut. I don’t want to spend my time hunting around trying to discover new features, or even wonder how to add a new entry; I want to spend my time writing.
Day One isn’t perfect. I’m particularly displeased by their subscription model. While I’m on their “Plus” plan, for which I paid a one-time fee for upgraded functionality, their current subscription model of $24.99 a year feels too expensive to me. Don’t misunderstand, I recognize that software publishers need a sustainable business model, and I support that, but $24.99 per year is steep. I would transition from being a “Plus” user to the subscription plan for $14.99 a year (the price I pay to subscribe to Bear) not because I find the feature set of Day One’s subscription plan more compelling, but because I would like to support the publisher. Or I would be happy to pay for new releases, such as the transition from version 2 to version 3 of Day One for iOS. But the current subscription plan feels too expensive.
I’d also like Day One to add a feature that allows me to save web content to my journal. Not save a link, which it does now, but keep the website content. To me, this is a crucial feature to using Day One as a commonplace journal. I journal about articles that I’ve read (such as this one on the discovery of African-American graves in Texas and America’s history) and hate that there’s not an elegant way to capture the webpage. Sites disappear, rendering their links inert. Easily adding online content to my journal entry would be a big win for me.
Despite these two minor quibbles, I’m happy with my transition to Day One. It is allowing me to capture my ideas nearly instantaneously, while also saving room in my backpack by eliminating my paper journal and six months of inserts. That’s a huge win.