Day One Journal Has A New Owner

Last month, I caught the news that award winning Day One journal app was acquired by Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. My reaction was, “Whoa, really?!” Then I realized the two have something great in common: the regular writing of words. Blogging and journaling are similar, which should be no surprise on this site.

My current journaling home, outside of Jason Journals, is the simple Apple Notes app. For my needs, Apple’s elegant solution is enough. I’ve benefited over the years from journaling, both the private and public types. And in my endeavors to record my introspective thoughts and fluctuating feels, I’ve tried a few other journaling apps, including Day One. The recent news of Day One being bought caused me to give it another look, so I downloaded it to my iPhone.

After installing it, I confirmed what I had recalled from previous times when I had tried the app. It’s elegant and easy to use. It also has a feature or two that I wish Apple Notes had. But for me, Day One is overkill because it has a lot of extra capabilities via buttons front and center, which appear like clutter to my mind. This hinders me from journaling because of increased friction. The app is robust with features, yet I find it’s too much. I just need a blank sheet, a cursor, and a minimal amount of text formatting (and also, of course, passcode locking).

I intend to keep journaling in my comfort zone of Apple notes. But I do have some questions and concerns about WordPress’ acquisition of Day One:

  1. Will the premium subscription plan of Day One somehow be included or bundled in a WordPress subscription?
  2. Will Day One remain end to end encrypted?
  3. Will Day One suffer from feature bloat with the addition of integration options for publishing journal entries directly to WordPress?
  4. Will the WordPress app for iOS include new options for Day One?

Depending on the answers, I may grow interested in using Day One. Its rich feature set, though a bit much for me, could become more useful in ways that suit my needs. And I’m sure I could acclimate to the app. Also, I don’t know how Tumblr has done, another acquisition of the WordPress company, but I trust Automattic will be a good steward of Day One.

For now, the purchase of the Day One journal is noted, and I’ll keep using the Notes app to journal.

Journey To A Journal

Destination Journal

If you do a little Googling, you’ll find a lot of sites that cover the benefits of keeping a journal. In sum, journaling’s good! Besides my blog, which is sort of a public journal, I’ve written in a private journal for years. I’ve always used different note-taking apps, and I’ve tried a few dedicated journaling apps. Now I’m trying out one that’s new to me: Journey.


Journey Is The Destination

Somehow, Journey had slipped under my radar. I found it by searching the Google Play Store for journaling apps. Since I rely on a Chromebook, I wanted an option that worked in a web browser in addition to using an Android app. Journey covers those bases, plus there’s an iOS app for Apple’s mobile devices.

So Journey is a cross-platform app made by a third-party, meaning it’s not an Apple, Google, or Microsoft product. That said, it utilizes Google Drive for all its backup and cloud sync tasks, so it should be dependable. The advantage of using a third-party service is that it works on all the major tech-ecosystems and isn’t trapped inside a walled-garden.

For me, that means switching between an iPhone, a Chromebook, or a Windows PC won’t be a problem. There’s no need to migrate all my journal entries from one app to another; I just log-in to Journey and get all my stuff! I could have my iPhone in my left pants pocket and an Android phone in my right (because I’m a nerd-geek like that); my journals would be in sync just the same.


Pros and Cons

My first impression of Journey is that it’s a lot like the Day One app (a highly acclaimed journal app made for Apple devices, now also on Android), even using almost the same shade of blue. It’s got your main section that shows all your entries in chrono-order (Timeline), newest at the top. There’s also a calendar view, typical in many journal apps, that shows which days of the month have entries.

You can also view journal pages by photos and by location. Finally, there’s a section called, “Today.” There you can view overall stats for your journaling, like how many entries you’ve made, how often you journal, and what your average mood is over time. It even shows you what entries most reflect your various moods.

This section also offers more (journal coaching, entry prompts, fitness tracking…) if you upgrade to one of the paid versions. There are a few coaching prompts in the free version, which is the one I’m trying now. In fact, it is not even ad-supported. There are zero ads in the app, except for the repeated nudges throughout, which remind you that there’s more offered if you buy or subscribe. So far, those elegant “ads” have not been nagging; time will tell if they wear me down.


There’s a lot to like with Journey. I’ve been trying it in three places: iPhone app, Android app on my Chromebook, and the web version in the Chrome browser. And I’ve encountered zero sync issues. All my entries made on each interface appear everywhere without fail.

The look-and-feel of the smartphone apps is consistent and pleasant to use. You can ‘tag’ and ‘favorite’ entries (still in the free version) for easier searching later. And despite there being a lot of features, the app isn’t cluttered or convoluted. Journey is simple, neat, and easy.

I’m finding that the more I use Journey, the more I like it! I didn’t think the calendar feature would really be important to me. But now with several days of usage, I can easily see my journaling streak visualized!

After depending on note-taking apps for years to do my journaling, at first I found it hard to get into Journey. I was not comfortable with the idea of using yet another app to do what I have always done. But I have found that Journey’s singular focus on journaling has allowed me to quickly and easily jump into the app and let my thoughts flow. The date and time is automatically recorded and displayed prominently. I can even back-date journal entries in the free version!

Then after more use, I found something really cool about Journey that I never had in my note-taking apps. When viewing an entry, you can swipe the page left or right to see the adjacent day’s entry, which also shows the tag, weather for that day, and your mood. I love it! I can thumb through my journal like a physical journal and casually browse my thoughts over time!


Of course, nothing is perfect. Journey is an ideal app yet with one minor drawback. The web version is functional, but it does not have feature parity with the phone apps. The only section available is the overall list view (Timeline) with all your entries ordered by date. At first, I felt this was a limitation. But it’s grown on me already because it looks and feels a lot like a social-feed (for better or worse).

At the top of the web site for Journey, there’s a big box for entering text with a formatting bar and all the features you need, although a few seem to be missing, like the ‘favorite’ option. It’s easy to type what’s on your mind and also easy to go back and edit in-place.

The online version has a web-chat feature that lets you talk with the friendly people at Journey to get help. I had some initial questions and they were answered via the chat. Nice! The journey folks have also emailed me helpful tidbits, including the chat transcript with follow-up links to help resolve my queries. Impressive!


Happy Journaling

Overall, Journey is proving to be a robust and reliable journaling service that’s very inviting to use. It’s got some kind of ineffable zen mojo thing going on.

It will take more time to decide whether or not I want to stick to a dedicated journaling app. My tried and true method has always been to use a note-taking app like OneNote or Apple Notes. As of now, I’m checking out Evernote as another alternative for journaling.

And as for other dedicated cross-platform journal apps, there is also Penzu. I tried it a few times in the past week. It is nice, interesting, and full of useful features. But it’s free version is limited compared to Journey. And overall, I like Journey better because of the way it’s laid out. Penzu tries a bit too much to replicate a physical journal. It’s a preference.

If you want or need a place to keep your private reflections, I say give Journey a try. It’s a good destination to help you along life’s journey.


Do you journal? What is your go-to place to write your mind’s musings? Chat below, or write me here! Thanks for reading!

Novel, Novella, or Novelette?

Worlds Of Words

I’ve been exploring the real world of creating fake worlds – fiction. Like seeking fireflies at night, I dream of writing a book someday. I figure it should be short for starters, to increase my chances of completion (which in itself I’d consider success). But how short should it be?


Word Counts

While rummaging through websites about the writing craft, my eyes gazed at a sparkling headline: The Novella: Stepping stone to success or waste of time? Talk about hive-mind. It’s like the web knew what I was thinking!

The beginning of the lengthy piece is the best explanation I’ve found distinguishing different fiction book lengths, like Large, Medium, Small, and Fun Size!

“A novella typically starts at about 20,000 words and tops out at 50,000, which is the minimum length for a short novel.”

The first thing that came to my mind was NaNoWriMo with its 30-day blitz to 50,000 words. You can author a novella in a month!

Here’s the breakdown of book lengths:

  • Standard Novel – 80,000+ words
  • Short Novel – 50,000 to 80,000 words
  • Novella – 20,000 to 50,000 words
  • Novelette – 7,000 to 20,000 words
  • Short Story – up to 7,000 words

The word counts above are general ranges. But, at long last, it’s nice to know. Only recently did I ever hear the term, “Novelette.” I wondered what that was. There’s so much about the writing world I’m ignorant of. So I keep reading up.


Weighing Words

For me, the measure of word count versus page count makes the prospect of authoring a book more feasible. It sets a target to aim at.

When I write blog posts in Google Docs, for example, I check my word count at the end of my first draft to see how verbose I was. I shoot for an average of 500 to 1,000 words a post. Then my inner editor unleashes word-wrath! I get to be my own Grammar Police.

Words count, so check word counts. Speak little, say much. Be brief, concise, succinct, simple. It’s challenging.

That said, I’m out.


Did you know the length of a Novella? Have you heard of a Novelette? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Blog Post Cramming

Stat Checker

Some people are good at ignoring certain things. But most of us pay attention to the numbers we get: likes, shares, comments. For my blog, I check the stats. I’m the blogger who, close to the end of the month, wants to post more, hoping to boost my monthly numbers, like cramming for a test at the last moment.


Writing with purpose

I know that writing should be authentic, and I don’t want to be a disingenuous blogger. So I try to always write the right way, mustering frank honesty as much as I can. In truth, I think some pretentiousness sneaks in there like a subtle serpent.

So to be honest, when then end of the month draws near and I see my blog stats looking anemic, I get motivated. I try to think of what I can post in the closing days, what drafts have I left dormant that are otherwise sincere attempts at jotting my thoughts down.

Then I dust off those drafts, crack the knuckles, bust out my trusty Chromebook with it’s sublime keyboard and get to tapping away.

Numbers are not the goal

Having a bunch of stats to look at is nice and helpful. And as nice as big numbers are, it should be obvious that numbers are not what a writer or blogger aims for. We aim for words and letters! Big numbers are for accountants, not authors. More than blog stats, I like word-counts because those numbers directly reflect the myriad of words. But not the message of those words.

The quantity of words is important, but not as important is the quality of those words.


Words in sum

A sum, or summary, of words adds up to one message. While I admit I tend to cram posts at the end of each month, I don’t always pull that off, yet it helps me stay on track. And in any case, I aim for my posts to be good and sincere. Plus, I really enjoy the process of writing, not just the culmination. The journey is as good as the destination.

I want my writing to improve and my blog to grow. High stats at the end of each month signal some kind of growth. They also show lack of growth, which moves me to get cracking, to discipline myself to get some stuff published. Hopefully good stuff.


What’s your take on blog stats? Like’em or ignore’em? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

50,000 Words In 7 Months

Have you ever wondered what it takes to write 50,000 words? It’s kinda baked my noodle. Every November, people try to do it in one month to write a novel! It took me 7 months of blogging this year, January through July, to hit the big 50k.


Stats

I’m one of those WordPress bloggers who looks at my blog stats to see how it’s going. I write many words, so I see many numbers. Well, hopefully. But do the metrics truly measure the merit of my missives? I don’t know. But I enjoyed stringing a bunch of ‘m’ words together just now. So there’s that ;).

Near the end of July, I noticed my blog stats for the year so far: total number of posts I’ve written, how many comments and likes, etc. My average number of words per post is 562. Not bad I guess.

Words

Then I saw the total number of words I wrote this year: about 48,500. My eyes blinked. And stared. My brain smoothly churned, turning that number over. Synapses fired off to others, and NaNoWriMo came to the forefront of my mind. That’s the month-long writing blitz aspiring authors buckle-up for each year to punch out a novel. The big goal is 50,000 words.

Goals

For me, my big goal in blogging is to stick with it and enjoy it for the long haul. It’s about duration, discipline, and dedication1. All it takes is a post here and there, nothing too long or fancy. Simple prose.

As long as I’m blogging: #amwriting. Over time, all those words add up. I just didn’t realize how fast or slow that was happening.

It took 7 months to reach 50,000 words. Now I wonder, could I have written a novel in that time?

Let’s say I started the year with the goal of gaining words instead of losing weight: “this year, I’m gonna write a book!” Had I set that goal and stuck with it, I guess now I could be self-publishing an e-book. But something tells me there’s more to penning fiction than just time on the clock. Many have proven that if you push hard, it only takes about 4 weeks to write a book start to finish.


Dreams

Given my circumstances, I don’t know if it’s feasible for me to attempt writing a novel in a month, or at all. But as I continue to practice writing in whatever form, I do keep my novella dreams nearby. My eyes look-out for inspiration and motivation to take on a chance to produce a work of fiction. Like I’ve said, someday.


Have you tried writing a book? How many words do you write daily? Write some words in the comments below or pen me a memo. Thanks for reading, and writing!!

  1. And Oxford commas. Ok, and I like semi-colons, but I digress.