If you are looking to start journaling, you may be wondering: Should use a physical journal or a digital journaling app? I asked the same question when I renewed my love of journaling. At first, I thought digital journaling could be right for me and tried it for a while. But ultimately, I switched to a physical journal, and I am so happy I did! Here are the benefits I experienced after switching from a digital journaling app to a physical journal.
Visual reminder to use it
Though I am a heavy technology user, a digital journal didn’t encourage me to write as much as a physical journal does. With a digital journal, I would have to remember to navigate to my journaling document or website on my computer. And that wasn’t happening nearly as often as I thought it would. I had the same issue with a mobile app, since it sat among a sea of other enticing apps, all competing for my attention.
Keeping a physical journal on my desk serves as a visual reminder that it exists and is waiting to be written in. I keep my journal in front of me at all times. It is on my desk during the day and on my bedside table at night. My journal goes with me everywhere, just like my water bottle does! It is a physical object, so it is hard to visually miss it. And since I bring it with me everywhere, I built the habit of picking it up everyday, which encourages me use it a lot more often than a digital one.
You can unplug while you journal
One of the most important reasons to keep a physical journal is that it encourages us to unplug. Any chance we can unplug can be beneficial for our wellbeing and is a step towards simple living and digital minimalism.
Removing digital distractions while journaling, like social media notifications, can help us better focus and take as much time as we need for journaling. It can be difficult to tune in and spend quality time with ourselves when we are distracted.
Additionally, if you journal in the evening, you can avoid the blue light sleep disruptors that tech devices emit. I keep my journal on my bedside table since is a great tool for unwinding at the end of the day. I log dreams right after they occur, and I work through anxieties that would otherwise keep me from falling asleep. A physical journal provides these benefits without requiring tech devices before bed time.
Easier to tune into the body as well as the mind
I seem less aware of my body sensations while on the computer. I suspect this is because I often sit at the computer for long stretches of time during productivity. It’s like the computer sucks me in. When I finally break away hours later, I simultaneously realize I’ve become hungry, thirsty, and tired. (Do you experience this, too?)
But physical journaling helps me become aware of my body sensations while writing. For example, when my grip on my pen tightens too much, I notice I am feeling anxious while writing. When tears fall on the page, I notice I am getting emotional during an entry. In the quiet seconds between writing sentences, sometimes I notice how jagged my breath has gotten. It sounds dramatic, but connecting to our bodies as well as our minds adds another layer of introspection that enhances our journaling experience.
Your handwriting reveals a lot
I type faster than I write, but I noticed my handwriting reveals information about my state of being at the time of writing. For example, the more anxious I am, the bigger my handwriting gets. When I am feeling emotional, my handwriting gets scratchier. And when I am feeling like myself, my handwriting looks small and neat. Our handwriting can help us notice another layer of our inner experience at the time of writing. And when reading older entries, it’s interesting to see what my handwriting conveyed about my emotions at the time of writing.
Less likely to edit
It is so easy to edit on a word processor. That’s a plus, right? Well… not for journaling. With a digital journal, I found myself re-reading what I wrote and feeling the urge to erase, edit, and re-write my thoughts to make them flow better. In my experience, good writing isn’t the point of journaling. Uncovering and dealing with your thoughts and emotions is.
Writing my thoughts with pen in a physical journal makes the words more concrete. And while I may have feelings about what I just wrote, I am more likely to face my thoughts and feelings, rather than pretend they don’t exist with a backspace button.
Super satisfying for stationary lovers
If you love stationary, you will probably love having a physical journal for that reason alone. There is something so satisfying about writing with an enjoyable writing utensil in a crisp new notebook. It’s just one more point of encouragement to open your journal and write in it!