You’ll have to forgive me for my shallowness: journaling was always something I thought of as that boring homework assignment I used to have to do back in grade school. I loathed it like I would any chore.
Intensifying my shallowness, it wasn’t until I started watching Sons of Anarchy that I started to think seriously about keeping a journal. Seeing Jax Teller write to his infant sons about his hopes for their lives kind of settled within me. I woke up one day suddenly wanting to start one.
And so I did. I looked online for a neat notebook and pen to use, and I started writing the day I got one. It’s been about 8 months since I’ve started, and it’s been a wonderful experience. For me, I found that journaling was very therapeutic as it allowed me to talk about some of the things that aren’t easy for me to openly talk about with other people.
Even if no one else ever reads it, I can use it as a tool for reflection, a place to vent anger and frustrations, a place to discuss my deepest secrets and fantasies or my darkest fears, and — if nothing else — a great way to lull myself to sleep every night.
7 reasons why you should start an online journal or diary
But me being a millennial child of the digital age, I was obviously curious if there were any good modern tools for carrying out this lifelong project. When I started to do my research I began to see the immense benefits of going with an online journal over the traditional kind.
Sure, it doesn’t offer quite the same level of personal connection between you and your words as a combo of ink and parchment would, but they’re still my words, my thoughts and my feelings, and at the end of the day that’s what’s most important. Here are 7 reasons why I decided an online journal might be more my style.
You can throw your entire journal into your pocket
Depending on the size of a real notebook, it can be a real pain to carry around. Some people might be content with smaller notepads, but for those who want a nice full book of big pages it’s tough to carry your journal around with you. This especially becomes painful if you have the itch to jot something down during a work or school day and want to make sure you get it on paper before you forget. Having your journal on your phone makes it infinitely more easy to carry, which means you can input entries as soon as you want to.
It’s far easier to revisit your past
There are many different uses for journals and diaries, but no matter what you use it for one of the benefits is being able to step into the proverbial time machine and revisit your past with commentary to help paint a vivid picture of your memories. It can be hard to flip through the pages in a notebook, especially if your chronicles are long enough to fill an entire ream of paper or even transcend multiple books.
With a digital diary, you point to a date and find out everything that happened on that day. Or you search for a word — a place, a thing, or even a person — if you don’t have a general idea of the location of whatever it is you’re trying to find.
Sharing entries is more secure and less cumbersome
While many of us would consider journals a private thing, there are some instances where you might want to share an entry with friends or family. Handing them your notebook full of private writings just to read one page can be scary and risky, but with an app all you have to do is roll the entry you want up into a PDF or text file and send it.
You can change anything at any time without a mess
I wouldn’t dare go back and change an entry that would change the entire framework of the story I was telling, but if I noticed a grammatical or spelling error I would only be able to edit it if that entry was created by pencil, or if I use white-out for those entered with pens. And even if you do have the ability to correct something it might not be all that elegant due to the limited space being taken up by other words. That’s not the case if you go digital.
Enhance your entries with photos and other extras
So scrapbooking is a thing, and that’s great. Many people like to enhance their writings with photos to depict the place they were at. But finding a spare picture of a sunny sky or that best friend you were at the beach with is not always possible. It’s also pretty time consuming to cut things up and paste them.
They also take up a lot of space as cutouts need their own pages so as to not block any of your text. And the pages of a typical notebook aren’t fit to withstand a gobs of glue. With a digital diary, simply add these things as attachments, and that weather part can even be done automatically if the app supports it.
You’ll never lose your journal
It can be devastating to lose your journal, whether it’s due to misplacement or due to it being destroyed by that nosy dog of yours, and no one in their right mind is going to go back and write a lifetime’s worth of entries (let alone remember the entirety of it). You won’t have to be out of luck with an online version, though, so long as you make regular backups to a secure and reliable location.
Get daily reminders to write an entry
Unless you have an undying passion for writing in your journal every day it can be easy to forget an entry. I’ve had moments where I look up and a week has gone by without writing a single word. An app won’t let you forget, though, if you don’t mind a notification bugging you to write at the same time every night.
Finding the best Journal / Diary app for Android
Of course, the first thing I had to figure out were the tools. There were a few requirements I had in mind before I even jumped into it:
- The app had to be usable and synchronized on any platform to ensure I can write wherever and however I want.
- The app needed decent security features.
- The app needed a nice user interface without much clutter and with an intuitive route to writing.
- The app needed backup, import and export features.
- The app needed to support multimedia.
- The app needed a nice suite of formatting tools.
That’s a long list, but I wouldn’t have committed to going the online route unless I could find something that fit the bill through and through. Thankfully it didn’t take long to find out a wonderful developer had created exactly what I was looking for.
Journey is what I stumbled upon
Journey delivers all of the tools mentioned above and then some. You can write within Android, on the web, or with a very nice Chrome extension. The apps are all beautifully designed, especially the Android version’s slick use of Material Design.
The first thing you’ll do is write, of course. Once you start a new entry, you’ll be treated to a user interface that’s free from clutter so as to help you stay focused on what you’re here to do: write about whatever it is that’s important to you.
But it won’t limit you to writing a bunch of words and associating it with whichever date it happens to be. Your diary entry can contain photos and video. It can save the location you were at when you wrote it. It can even tell you the weather on that day at that location, and you can specify what it is you were doing, such as eating or walking.
And you can search through your entries by photos and places if the typical date-driven approach isn’t doing it for you. Entries are synced up so you can easily access all your entries no matter which platform you’re on.
Making a reasonable in-app purchase of around $4 adds even more functionality such as exporting entries to .docx files, PDF files, or even publishing them to WordPress if you feel like sharing one. You can get markdown shortcuts for 1-click formatting, previews of that markdown so you can see how your Journal is formatted in real time, and even the ability to back your entire journal up to local storage to ensure a mishap with the cloud doesn’t completely erase your thoughts. (And if you do trust the cloud, its use of your Google Drive account for backups eases the soul.)
All you need to do to start chronicling your life, jotting down your thoughts or whatever else it is you want to use a journal for is to download the Android app and start writing. Even if you already have an online journal at places like Diaro, Day One (iOS-only) and Evernote, Journey makes it easy to import those entries and pick up where you left off.
You can enable notifications which will ask you if you want to write in your journal at the end of each day, and a handy widget makes it quick and easy to jump right into a new entry from the home screen. Add in Android Wear support and a dedicated tablet user interface and there isn’t much more to want (though I’d love support for Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s fingerprint API for authentication at some point down the line).
Of course, Journey isn’t the only Android app out there to serve this purpose. We’ve checked out a few more which might be more fitting for your needs. These runner-ups all gave us great reason to take notice, so be sure to check them out if you find Journey isn’t doing it for you.
If you were to completely bypass Journey and go with Diaro, I would say it’s a decision you shouldn’t feel bad about. Diaro offers up many of the same qualities as Journey, including a slick user interface with intuitive features, adequate security, and flexible multimedia.
This is a beautiful app that bring photos to the forefront (if you’re so inclined to use them) more than the text. Better Diary is a great tool for those who want collaborative journaling as it allows you to easily invite people to write an entry if they want. It’s great for people like parents creating a journal about their kids’ childhood or friends simply sharing the good times together.
Narrate doesn’t do as much as the aforementioned apps, but it has its own unique flair to it, and its ability to sync with multiple services — including Day One, Dropbox and Google Drive — offers more sync and backup flexibility than most others.
Get started on your journal!
The only thing left to hold you back is your own mind (there is an Inspirations feature to help with that if you don’t know what you want to write about). Do you have any other great journaling or diary apps you use and want to recommend? Let us hear it below!
Want more great app recommendations? Check out our list of the 100 best Android apps!