In a world where life moves at breakneck speed, it’s essential to pause, reflect, and take stock of our thoughts and emotions. Journaling is one way to do just that.
For Maya Middlemiss, a Londoner living in Valencia, Spain, a daily journaling practice has become an essential part of her life. As a freelance writer and podcaster, Maya has cultivated an impressive streak of journaling for 1,050 days. From capturing moments of happiness to processing grief and change, her journal has evolved into an archive that offers a window into her past and helps her gain perspective on her present.
In this interview, we explore her journey, delving into her journaling habits, what she’s learned along the way, and her advice for others looking to build a journaling habit.
How long have you been keeping a journal?
I started using an email app called OhLife, over a decade ago, which emailed you daily with a journaling prompt you could reply to. When they ceased trading, they offered the chance to download all the entries, and although I hadn’t used it consistently, I was fascinated by the archive I received. So I searched the app stores for an alternative, and found someone who could write an AppleScript to import all my old OhLife entries into Day One for me.
What makes journaling important to you?
Life is complicated, and we change and we grow… it’s so interesting to look back, and see not just what I was doing, but also what I was thinking and feeling.
What do you usually journal about?
Usually the day’s events and my reactions to them, but it varies a lot. Sometimes it’s just a photo and a sentence, other times a long and very reflective essay.
“Life is complicated, and we change and we grow… it’s so interesting to look back, and see not just what I was doing, but also what I was thinking and feeling.”
There’s a run of a few weeks a year or so ago where each entry was simply a picture of a positive lateral flow test, but I had no energy to think or write, so it was just a reminder to my future self of those lost times. Other times I write about things I need to process, like grief or change, though the entry may come a few days later – I am a writer and this is how I deal with things. Reviewing these traumas year on year helps to gain perspective.
When do you journal each day?
Right now I usually do it last thing at night, uploading a few photos which represent the day, and dictating a voice note. It helps to get the days events and any preoccupying thoughts out of my head. And then I read the ‘On This Day’, to reflect on entries over the past 11 years (I was journalling sporadically long before the current streak),
What tips or advice would you give others who want to build a journaling habit?
Make an easy target. You don’t have to do an entry every day. You could try to take and save one photo daily – Day One used to make you choose a single photo!
Also, dictation on the phone is a very easy way to capture spontaneous thoughts.
What have you learned from keeping a journal?
I definitely see patterns of thoughts and behaviour, things I wanted to change about my habits or how I am in certain relationships, that have or have not evolved. That’s why I know in-depth reflection on quite small aspects of the day, like how a single conversation went, are the most interesting to me in years to come.
What is your favorite thing about the Day One app?
I love the ‘On This Day‘ feature. I would not have remembered our cats joined us 5 years ago today, and it was lovely to see the pics of the cute kittens they once were!
I like the maps feature too, to see everywhere I went in a year, the scattering of dots of photo locations all over Europe.
How has Day One helped you journal more consistently?
The iPhone app UI is great, easy to upload a pic directly through the sharesheet if you know immediately it’s a keeper, even if you’re going to do the words later on.
What else you would like to share about journaling?
So many people say they love the Facebook memories section – but when you’re journaling for yourself it’s far richer and more interesting, as well as private. Your memories are precious, and having lost a close family member recently I know they are precious to others as well – I wish they had had Day One.
Start Your Journaling Streak
with Day One
The Day One journaling app makes it easy to build and maintain a daily journaling habit. Daily reminders, daily writing prompts, and journaling streaks are designed to help keep you motivated and consistently journaling.