Tag: Day One

  • Writing a journal

    Writing a journal

    I’ve been writing a journal for a long time. It started with text files on my computer, an overpriced 386 tower in my teenage bedroom, the keyboard within reach from my bed. I wrote a lot back then, as I do now, and why bother getting out of bed, really? Ah, teenagers…

    I’ve never had a physical journal. The thought never even occurred to me. If I’m gonna put down these words, I figured I’d want them digital and not faded over time or forgotten somewhere. So it’s obviously extremely ironic that I’d lose my earlier journals to a smoking hard-drive. I wasn’t upset, it seemed fitting at the time.

    These days, when I write a journal, it gets synced to the cloud. That too will burn, or at least evaporate, one day, but for now it feels at least slightly more secure. I could add additional layers of protection, just manual exports that I’d store someplace semi-safe, a fail-safe, but up until now I haven’t bothered.

    You see, I write my journal for myself. No, I don’t want it to go up in smoke again, but if it did, I wouldn’t be upset. I’d just keep doing it. This is partly because I feel safe enough with the setup, obviously. It’s interesting to look back, and any modern journaling app (I use Day One, despite its obvious shortcomings and the subscription business model) will give you “on this day”-things, like a Timehop but not just photos and stuff you shared with everyone. If you put your innermost in your journal, that’s what you’ll get hit with every day.

    Sometimes that hurts. People pass away, feelings too, and you’ll get that, raw and possibly at the absolute worst time, but there you go. That’s life. I find it reinvigorating, that blast from the past. Even if it’s about a shattered marriage or a friend lost way too early, I’d rather remember it and feel again, than just have it lost to me. Which is easy to say now, writing this, because I’ve had days when I’ve wondered why the fuck I’m exposing myself to past sorrows again and again. But there you go, it’s for the better, I think.

    I write a journal to settle my thoughts. Just a couple of lines every day, which isn’t really every day but close enough. That’s what works best for me, the solution that gives back the most, somehow. I’ve tried doing weekly journals but I’m generally too disconnected to what I did this morning, so remembering how things went down six days ago is a challenge. Perhaps one worth taking head on, it’s a good exercise, but that’s not what I’m after when I’m writing in my journal.

    I want to face what I’ve done and what I’ve experienced. That’s the thing, I believe.

    What happened?

    How did I react?

    Who did I hurt, who did I help?

    What good did I do for the world today, and how does that balance out the bad?

    I’ve come to think a lot about things like that. Depending on who you are, and what position you’re in, you affect so many people. Your family, your friends, but also your co-workers, and anyone you interact with during your day. If you’re a dick at the coffee shop you could ruin somebody’s day. If you whine about someone not understanding something in the check-in at the airport, then you’re not exactly contributing to society, are you? Everything you do have consequences. Most of those consequences are irrelevant, some just appear so because you just don’t know better. So trying to be the best you possible isn’t such a pompous thing after all. At least that’s what I believe. Which doesn’t mean that I’m succeeding at living my life like that, but I can only try, and that’s true for you too.

    Thinking about my day, just processing it and putting it down in words, possibly a photo or three (I’m pretty into photography at times, as you might’ve noticed), helps me be a better person. Or rather, it helps me realize when I haven’t been, and perhaps do better next time. That’s the plan, at least.

    I’ve written things I’m not proud of, because I’ve done things I’m not proud of. I’ve forced myself to accept things I really didn’t want to believe. I’ve lied to myself for days, because I didn’t want to accept the truth, but ultimately journaling has forced me to face situations head on, and go from there. Done right, this is both easy and hard.

    Or maybe you live your life better than I do. That’s always a possibility.

    I’m keeping two journals. The one I’m talking about above is private. You can’t see it, no one can. It’s for me, it’ll die with me. I don’t want anyone to find those words, ever. Some things should disappear, like conversations they’re ephemeral when no one remembers anymore. There’s beauty to that.

    The second journal is my lifehack to write more. You might’ve seen it, it’s public on this very site. It’s not as personal obviously, but I do want to be honest in there, much like everywhere else. This particular journal exists for two reasons, one coincidental, and one very much calculated.

    The blog is dead. Remember that nonsense? That said, yes, social media has ripped a big hole in the ecosystem that I stepped into back in the day, when sites like the Blog Herald (where I ended up the editor in the end) had something to write about. It was a thing, the blog and the tech behind it – no matter what publishing solution you preferred back in the day – really did help democratize online publishing. Your words might’ve been at the mercy of search engines, but that’s nothing compared to the Facebook algorithm or soap-boxing to deaf ears on Twitter.

    There’s a movement today, about reclaiming your online self. I’ve written about this so many times that it’s boring even me, but it is as important today as it ever was. Don’t be the product, be yourself. That sort of thing. So there’s some buzzing going on, some “we’re doing this now, look at us”, and some genuin reactions based on actual realizations. I don’t care what camp you’re in, if you’re doing your own thing, owning your online presence first and foremost, then I’m in your corner. Feed and syndicate, cross-post however you like, but own yourself. That’s all I’m saying.

    And just saying it is obviously not enough, hence the daily journal entries.

    That’s the coincidental reason. The calculated one is solving a problem my new life, post-agency sale, awarded me. I’ve been struggling with finding time to write, but more importantly, I’ve lacked the energy. That’s very unlike me, and it might hint at the fact that I’m getting older (perish the thought!), but there you have it.

    I used to be a pretty efficient writer. Days of 5,000 words were in no way flukes, I could have weeks and months where that just happened. Two weeks and the first draft is done, that sort of thing. If there’s an idea (there’s always and idea), and if there’s time (there’s always time, if you make the time), and finally, if there’s energy (ah, shit…), I’ll blast through just about anything.

    I’ve been lacking the energy. Life has sucked it out of me, literally.

    I hated it. Still do, because life is still a vampire firmly attached to my arterial vein.

    So my second reason for writing a journal is to kick said vampire in the nuts. Or uterus, I’m unclear of its gender, but there’s definitely a kick in there somewhere. Writing a journal every morning has proven to be an effective word lubricant. No, I don’t always manage to get any writing in, not at a daily basis, that’s step two and it’s tied to the time aspect – that I can manage – but I do want to write every day. That’s something I haven’t felt in a long time. I’ve got the energy to write again, and it’s all down to those journal entries, the blog posts of yore if you will. A writer’s lifehack, well-used in various ways by more people than I care to admit, because I’m just happy that it works for me.

    I’m writing again. Translating Ashen Sky to Swedish, mapping out novels, getting ready to edit manuscripts, thinking about new things with optimism.

    For me, that’s huge.

    I believe that keeping a journal is a good idea. You could focus it on a part of your life, maybe your progress in the gym (I’ve got one of those too) or your running, or it’s about your sex life, your relationships, your children, or everything else. I wouldn’t know, it could be literally everything, a diary of your dirty life and times. It matters less, as long as you’re honest when you do it, because that’s when you can learn something along the way.

    Write your journal in an app, on your computer or your phone, buy and overpriced notebook and write it there, scratch it into the prison wall, whatever you feel comfortable with. Put the words down and learn from them, now and a year from now, and possibly more. Who knows? I sure as hell don’t, and neither do you, until it happens.

    You can keep a journal for many reasons, but only one actually matters. You’re keeping a journal for you.

  • On the app subscription model

    On the app subscription model

    1Password, Day One, and now Ulysses, turn to the subscription model. I don’t think this is a good thing.

    1Password started to push for their server sync feature, with personal and family accounts. Subscribe ($36 for personal, $60 for family), get your passwords in the cloud, that sort of thing. It works well enough, we use it at my agency, but I don’t particularly like it. The main reason is that it is a potentially faulty chain in my security. 1Password is well know, hell, I’ve praised it so many times anyone looking for my stuff illicitly would start there! So now my passwords are as safe as 1Password can make them on their servers, with the added layer of complexity of their very own service. If they screw up something in their server architecture, I’m at risk. If they happen to be caught up in the next Heartbleed, if there’s a government backdoor in their server OS, my passwords are at risk. Encrypted, but still at risk.

    Now, all cloud services screw up from time to time. Nothing is ever 100% safe. Dropbox has had security breaches, why wouldn’t 1Password? I’ll go one step further: With Dropbox, you don’t know what you’ll find should you get in. With 1Password, you know you’ll find passwords.

    I don’t like it.

    Which brings me to journaling app and service Day One. They forced their own sync service on their users, keeping their Classic version available for legacy users. Who wants an abandoned version that won’t get proper updates? No one, that’s who – Classic is more of a PR move than anything else. So they forced us to move our journals to their own sync engine. It works well enough, but to begin with traffic wasn’t encrypted. That’s scary, your words are traveling from your device to their servers in plain fucking text. Better not write something too personal in your journal, eh?

    It got worse when they moved to the premium subscription model ($35/year as an introductory price, $25/year for current users), with chaos around current customers (that all get some sort of account) and paying ones. It’s still somewhat unclear what it’ll mean for those of us who’ve bought the apps (plural) over the years, and got our accounts upgraded. We’ll get a basic experience, but obviously premium subscribers will get a better one, right? The verdict is out on this one, and Day One support has been stellar trying to solve weird things that especially seems to happen to Apple family accounts. Still, it’s a journaling app that wants me to subscribe to a service that, let’s face it, is less secure than iCloud. That’s a weak pitch to a faulty business model in my opinion.

    Then there’s Ulysses. I’m supposed to subscribe to this writing app ($40/year) now. Current users get 50% off, which is applauded all over the Apple-centric blogosphere.

    Why should I subscribe to a text editor again?

    “It’s because the developers need to make money, stupid!”

    I don’t begrudge anyone making money, especially not when it’s quality software like Ulysses (or Day One, or 1Password – they’re all in my setup as I’m writing this). But why should I pay to be able to edit files I authored, in an app I paid for? That’s what happens if I decide not to subscribe, my app turns read only. I’ll have to export my content and move elsewhere.

    Am I going to subscribe to my web browser next? To my email client? Is everything turning into a subscription because the marketplace has dumped its prices on itself? Will anything that isn’t open source just plain implode?

    That’s not going to work. Three apps all want me to pay money, a total of $111 per year (assuming only personal accounts, discounts will bring that down a bit). They all get daily use from me, no brainer to pay up, right?

    Well, no. Again, I don’t begrudge the developers making money, and I sure won’t say that any of these apps aren’t worth their asking price. I will say that they’re not acting in the best interest of the customer, however.

    • 1Password pushes a service that will make my passwords more vulnerable to attack, and add very little if anything to my experience as a user.
    • Day One pushes a service that offer no immediate benefit to the user over the original iCloud sync, unless you want to publish your journal entries on their dayone.me thing which they could charge for (but nobody’d pay).
    • Ulysses locks all my documents and charges me to use their app with no benefit over the current version whatsoever.

    Yeah, that’s all about the user experience and satisfaction, isn’t it?

    I get it though. People buy an app and then they use it for years. If that app was $3 then that’s not a lot of money per user, especially if you decided to build and host an infrastructure. That costs money. I get it. Ulysses developer Max Seelemann explains why they decided on going down the subscription route. Subscription income brings stability and room to grow, no doubt about it. But how many apps and services can we afford to subscribe to? The three mentioned here – 1Password, Day One, and Ulysses – are all popular choices. You could argue that Ulysses is a ”pro” app, and thus it can (and maybe should) cost more, but the same can be said about the other two. Add a subscription to a todo app, a project management app, and maybe an office app, and you’ll be well over $200/year. God forbid you have further needs than that…

    I don’t think forcing people to sign up for a subscription is the solution. 1Password is great, and still usable through Dropbox sync, but it won’t be in the long run, no matter what they say. At least not if you want all the bells and whistles. Day One still works for current customers, but sooner or later you’ll have to pay to not get a lesser experience (and I’m still not sure if my data is encrypted or not). Ulysses just makes your content read only, which clearly is the biggest dick move of them all. I love their app, but they’re trying to bully me into paying a monthly fee.

    Why are you applauding this? What is the upside?

    Is it that app developers get paid? Short term, sure. Long term, hundreds of competing developers will see an opening and burst in with apps, clones perhaps, but without subscriptions. These apps might not be as good, but if they’re good enough then that’s it. We’ll get worse apps for no reason other than that we’ve enabled broken business models.

    We all need to pay rent and mortgages, buy food and all that goes with life. Developers and users alike, we’re all entitled to a good life, or at least I like to think so. That means that we’ll have to pay for what we use. If a developer charges $3 or $5 for an app once, then never again, then that’s a bad deal as soon as support, maintenance, and new features overtake the steady flow of new customers. No doubt about it. $15 once? $30? When does it become a good deal? That’ll depend. As Max Seelemann points out in his aforelinked post, the spikes of releases makes it tricky to make ends meet. The app stores are skewed.

    If you charge $40 per year to use your app, you better have a damn good argument. Because you’re just a place I store my passwords, a collection of journal entries, or a bunch of organized text files. I can replace any of you right now, for a nominal cost, and if I can then so can everyone else. Because $40/year is a lot for an app, and it’s a huge step away from our idea of what an app should cost and how it should be paid for. You better damn well bring something new to the table, not limit what I already bought.

    None of these much loved apps succeed at this. They’re forcing their new business models onto their users. It might be necessary for them to survive, but it is disrespectful. I don’t think the users will stand for it in the long run, and we’ll be short some amazing apps.

  • Your digital journal, printed

    Day One is my journaling app of choice. They’re branching out, offering printed journals if you want them. A brilliant move, but journals have a tendency to be kind of personal. Don’t worry, Day One’s got you covered:

    The privacy of your printed journal is important to us, so we’ve created a printing process that is strictly confidential. All digital files are securely transferred to our printing facility. Printing is automated without any manual handling of the files. After printing is completed, your book is promptly packed, sealed, and shipped to your home. Any digital files used in the printing of your book are automatically deleted once this process is completed.

    It’s up to you if you believe that. Either way, check out the sample journals, it looks pretty cool. I doubt it’ll fly though, but who knows?

  • iPhone novel blast from the past

    I’m a big fan of Day One, the journaling app for iOS and macOS. One thing it does is highlighting past updates, and today I got this one from my iPhone novel writing journal:

    Today’s #MobNov tally: 360 words in 12 mins, written outdoors with a monstrous dog gnawing on me.

    Attached photo:

    Paazu the monstrous dog
    Paazu the monstrous dog

    Seems fitting, since I wrote about the iPhone novel writing project just the other day.