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16 Aug, 2023
At the end of 2022 I ordered a nice Moleskin “Daily Diary” for the year 2023 in which I planned to keep a day log. I’ve been journaling off and on since 2009 and was inspired by a post I came across on from Austin Kleon. It only took a little over a month and I chickened out. From February 10th those entries exist in plain text in a folder on my server.
Was it a fear of losing the notebook and laziness à la forming the habit of remembering to bring it? Also, would I be able to read my handwriting? Shouldn’t it be kept pristine and only contain the writings of a literary genius? On June 16th I changed my mind. Thumbing through those blank pages and leaving a note to future self saying “These blank pages all exist digitally, I hope you can find them in the future.”
What changed? It only took me ~25 years(?) but I’ve finally admitted to myself I often switch systems and apps as a form of procrastination. jrnl, Vimwiki, Logseq, Obsidian, Anytype, Notion, Evernote, Org mode, Apple’s Notes app, plain-text/Markdown files in folders and on and on… I’ve looked at them all!
I had never asked myself the simple question of “What am I trying to achieve? Do I really need to hoard and organize every little thing?” All of these note “systems” are convoluted and unnecessary, becoming less about the end results and more about getting lost in fine-tuning the process (this is also why I eventually abandoned Emacs).
Needless to say, I’m letting go and enjoying paper more and more. I’ve come to accept that my brain (and realistically most humans) simply does not function like a computer, we have nuance and context. With paper, I can be flexible! Scribbles, lines, lists, quotes, thoughts, smudges, etc can all be jotted, thumbed through and acted on or logged somewhere digitally if I can read my handwriting.