Ask Dave: Special Notebooks or Software for Travel Journaling?
By Dave Fox
“What type of writing gear do you recommend for speed journaling and post journaling? Are there any special notebooks or pens you would recommend? Do you ever type your speed journaling entries into a computer program such as MacJournal at the end of the day or every several days if time permits?”
— Johnny Isaak, Carson City, Nevada
When it comes to raw travel journaling, I tend to be a minimalist. I do most of my journaling with a pencil and a cheap notebook. (I do go high-tech and use a mechanical pencil. Sharpeners are hard to find these days.) I do this for two reasons:
- Writing by hand helps me resist the temptation of going back and editing when my goal is to spill as many details onto the page as quickly as possible.
- I just like the tactile sensation of my pencil scritching across the paper. It feels different from typing, which is (obviously) what I later must do when writing for Globejotting or other publications.
Do I use journaling software to save my journals at the end of the day? I never have, though I know some people like to. The way I see it, time spent retyping my travel journals is time I could spend writing more new material.
I journal knowing some of the material I scribble will eventually get typed into stories I publish. If publishing isn’t your goal, there can still be value in typing your journals after you write them – with special journaling software or a basic word processing program. Doing so takes you through the process of rereading your entries and analyzing more deeply the thoughts you had when writing them. And… you can save those journal entries out in cyberspace so if an unfortunate event damages or destroys your original notebooks, you still have your words.
This brings me around to a point I’ve made before: I like journaling with cheap notebooks and mechanical pencils, and no, I don’t type my raw journal entries later to save them in digital form. But that’s what *I* do. Is it the “right” way to journal? Not necessarily.
The right way to journal is whatever way works for you. Some people like fancy notebooks and expensive pens. Some people like computers. Experiment until you find what gets you writing and makes you happiest. What motivates you to write? What feels good? What travels well? Are there technologies that make journaling feel more fun, that ultimately nudge you to write more?
How do you like to journal? Are you an old-school scribbler? Do you have a favorite notebook or writing instrument? Are there technologies you like? I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts and experiences in the comment field below.
Johnny, thanks for your question! Everybody, if you have a question about writing, travel, or anything else, please drop me a line on the Ask Dave page and you might see the answer in a future column on this website.