Steve Day just crossed the impressive milestone of 3,000 consecutive days of journaling. After a 40-year career as an educationalist, teacher, advisor, and lecturer, Steve is now retired and lives in Stafford, United Kingdom.
In this interview, we asked Steve about the importance of keeping a journal and for advice on how to build a meaningful journaling habit that lasts.
How long have you been keeping a journal?
Eight and a half years … Day One was the spur to actually writing things down, even though I had thought for a long time about physically writing a journal, it never happened.
What makes journaling important to you?
Simply put, journaling is my escape valve. There has been a lot of chatter about the importance of mental health and ways in which it can be improved by not bottling things up. Not all of my entries are ‘rants’ although there have been times …. But writing things down allows me to release a flow of thoughts which takes the ‘steam’ out of each day and actually makes me relax. Weird, but true.
What do you usually journal about?
What I journal about very much depends on what has been going on around me. There are times when a random set of circumstances triggers a memory, and I get a lot of pleasure from getting that down before it disappears into the ether. Other times it’s a running commentary on events that are impacting me, whether that be sports, politics or personal situations. It doesn’t always have to be important, some of my longest entries can be a reference to something that to anyone else is trivial, but to me at that moment needs recording.
“Having an outlet, locked away unless I want to share it, is immensely valuable to me … an opening into my soul if you want. My journal is an aide memoir, a way of looking back at dates and events that I would have forgotten or which would have been fogged by time. A title, a picture.. that’s all it takes to bring things back to life, and Day One has been the platform for all those 3,000 plus entries.”
When do you journal each day?
I’m not disciplined enough to have a set routine insofar as I don’t set time aside just to journal. What I find is that there are just moments during the day when I get the urge to write / record / reflect on things. Sometimes it can be a few minutes, other times it can be much longer.
What tips or advice would you give others who want to build a journaling habit?
Keep to what you know and feel. Journaling isn’t about creating great works of literature, it’s about you and how life is impacting on you. Keep it simple, and focus on a single aspect for each entry, you can always complete additional entries as the day progresses if you choose to or feel the need to. That said, in order to build a streak take 15 seconds each day to write a title for an entry, and attach an image. The mind is a wonderful thing when prompted, and even if you only have a title/image it’s amazing how things flood back.
What have you learned from keeping a journal?
That although I’m not always aware of it, life is constantly changing and my views and feelings are equally fluid. There are times when you feel that everything is the same, but a quick flick back to another point in time makes you realise how far you’ve come. I’ve had friends who have bemoaned the fact that they wish they could remember an event or time, that having a journal would have been so useful to them. You don’t always realise the importance of journaling at the time, but it’s pure gold.
What is your favorite thing about the Day One app?
Flexibility. I can start an entry on my phone – take a ‘blog shot’, put a title – the continue on my iPad or Mac later and it’s all synced.
How has Day One helped you journal more consistently?
The fact that Day One is always with me as long as I have my phone has been the key to having a 3000+ day streak. The simplicity and ease with which entries can be created / edited / searched removes a huge number of barriers to journaling. The straightforward layout of the UI is similarly helpful … you can journal with one thumb if need be, especially if you have a cat sitting on your other one, like this morning!
What else you would like to share about your journaling streak?
This journal is for me. It’s a record of who I am and who I was, how I feel and how I felt. I can share it as I feel necessary, and I have the knowledge that I can actually have it printed if I choose for posterity. It’s gone from something that has garnered comments like ‘you’ll never keep it up’ to ‘what did your journal say about..’ from family and friends. There are few other things that can elicit that response.
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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.