Pros and Cons of E-Journals
I love my handwritten, personalized journals, but after 20 years of journaling it became difficult to refer to past entries. For the most part, I could remember the year and time frame, but I had to read several entries before I finally stumbled upon the exact reference I was looking for.
I frequently glance back at old journals to see how God answered prayers. Some prayers are answered in days or weeks, but there are those that take months, even years. I like to see where God has moved things along, but in many instances I'm still waiting.
As difficult as it was, I made the jump and “crossed over,” from paper journals to electronic files. I still keep handwritten journals, but they tend to be used to jot down writing ideas.
Here are some of the pros and cons I have discovered and why I have decided to continue with e-journals. It’s a personal preference, which is what journaling should be.
PROS OF E-JOURNALS
- Typing is faster than writing: The more intimate and deeper my relationship with Christ grows, I hear His voice more clearly and rapidly. This typically happens during my time of prayer and reading my Bible, but not exclusively. God has taught me to slow down, take in what He is saying, and what His Word is speaking to me personally. I want to capture these moments because it's too easy for me to forget. I don’t want to dismiss God's words as unimportant because I couldn’t write everything down. God spoke, I heard, therefore, it’s easier and faster for me to take His message and start typing.
- Search and Find: I have found it extremely beneficial and encouraging to look back at previous journal entries and see how God was intimately involved in my life. I review entries to see answered prayers, words of inspiration, or to evaluate spiritual growth. If I took enough time to make an entry, then it is important enough for me to look back. My journals help me reflect on where I was and where I am. I may not remember when, but some times God nudges me and I remember there is something embedded in one of my entries. For me, it’s easier to hit “ctrl F,” than page through endless paper journals.
- Track and Match: I journaled for several years before I began numbering the pages in my paper journals. When I wanted to connect previous entries with current events I would go back, use a yellow highlighter and make a reference, i.e., “see p. 30, 2001.” I did the same on the current event so both dates corresponded and were connected. I’m all for fast and efficient and it’s easier for me to search, find, and connect electronic entries.
- I utilize different fonts and highlighting colors, indents, comments, etc. It's another tool to help connect entries. If there has been progress on a prayer requests or the prayer has been answered, I change the font to red. It's a tangible way to see how God answered prayers.
- Organizing: I organize my e-journals in folders by year. Folder name is JOURNAL, subfolder is YEAR JOURNAL (i.e., JOURNAL/2016 Journal).
- e-journals go where I go: No matter where I am, my journals are accessible and updated simultaneously on multiple devices. Google Drive, Dropbox, Word, or Pages are a few options. If I'm traveling with carry-on luggage only, it's one less thing to cram into my suitcase.
- Privacy: Less change they get into the hands of others. You can set up a password or thumbprint for privacy and protection.
DOWNSIDE TO E-JOURNALS
There are a few suggestions I have before you ditch your hardcopy journals and start clicking away on your computer. You can always go back to paper journals, but I recommend you put some thought into e-journals before you start. I experienced a few challenges when I switched from paper journals to electronic files.
- A Living and Tangible Life: God challenged me to keep my journals as a memorial for my family. God has answered many prayers, I’ve seen many miracles, and my God-stories are to be shared with my family and future generations. A paper journal captures the emotions and feelings of the author that a computer generated story may not. I think of Anne Frank’s Diary. Her story comes alive when you see her handwritten notes where she revealed her heart, fears, and passions. Her willingness to be honest and transparent is what speaks to our hearts decades later.
- Authentic and Original: Paper journals are the original thoughts of the author. It is difficult for somebody to alter our paper journals. They capture a moment in time that may get altered electronically and at any given time. In many ways my personal touch is lost, but for me, capturing more became my goal opposed to original.
- Creativity: I am not an artist. I don’t draw because I can’t. For the creative person who loves to doodle and creates elaborate and beautiful books, e-journals may be the farthest thing from your mind. Creativity looks entirely different on paper and for those of you who must draw, I think you would be giving something up that is dear to your heart and in a way that I can’t relate to.
- Hardcopies are easier to lose. Easily accessible to others.
Overall, I have found few things I don’t like when it comes to using e-journals.
What are the key things and events you set out to capture, but can't seem to find the time or a way to do so? God tells us to pray about all things and I would consider this important enough to pray about. You have no idea if and how God might use your journal entries to bring Him glory.
Exodus 17:14, Exodus 24:12, Exodus 34:27
Several reading this have been journaling for years. What's working for you?
More tips on journaling: