Steven Wong recently crossed the impressive milestone of 3,000 consecutive days of journaling. As a retired finance professional, Steven lives in Singapore, and enjoys spending time in boats and making yacht deliveries.
In this interview, we asked Steven about the importance of journaling and for advice on how to build a long-term journaling habit.
How long have you been keeping a journal?
I tried to keep a journal a number of times with pen and paper but I found it dispiriting and wasn’t able to keep it going. Then I discovered Day One and a whole new world opened up. Not only could I now write about things as a narrative but I could populate it with pictures taken across the day. My current streak is over 3,200 days.
What makes journaling important to you?
I find that journaling approaches a spiritual experience, even meditative in nature, as I set aside time everyday to write about the activities, experiences, and reflections from the day before.
What do you usually journal about?
Everything from the moment I get up until the end of the day. I write about the minutiae of the day—eg. details of a conversation I had with a friend—my thoughts about things I’ve seen and I sometimes cut and paste interesting articles or pictures I’ve seen elsewhere.
When do you journal each day?
I find it best to write first thing in the morning when I’m fresh and can easily remember the detail of the previous day. Sometimes though, I get distracted by something else or I have an early morning appointment so I have to find time later in the day.
I usually think about when I can fit in the next day’s journaling before I retire in the evenings. You could say that my day revolves around the hour I take to write things up and I usually feel a bit antsy until I’ve journaled for the day.
“Someone once said that chopping wood to make a fire warms you twice. Writing a journal is like experiencing everything twice … when you do it and when you reflect upon it as you write.”
What tips or advice would you give others who want to build a journaling habit/streak?
I think the most important thing is to set aside the time needed in advance, rather than trying to write it on the fly. Having said that, I sometimes start writing on my iMac at home but then run out of time so have to finish it off on my iPhone when I’m on the train a few hours later.
What have you learned from keeping a journal for over 3,200 days?
Journaling is a habit that becomes almost impossible to break! The secret for me is that getting into a regular writing routine sets up the day because once it’s done, I feel that I achieved something significant, having recorded the events of the day before. Someone once said that chopping wood to make a fire warms you twice. Writing a journal is like experiencing everything twice … when you do it and when you reflect upon it as you write.
Another unexpected outcome is the benefit DayOne provides from having created a contemporaneous record of the past. Often, when thinking about something that happened some time ago, I’ve gone back into my journal to discover that what actually happened was quite different from how I remember it. It’s almost as if over time, the mind creates its own reality but having a DayOne entry provides a benchmark for referencing everything off.
What is your favorite thing about the Day One app?
Day One’s versatility. The way it allows text and pictures to be combined so easily and how it works seamlessly between devices is an obvious one but another is the convenience of having my personal history literally at my finger tips in my pocket, accessible anytime, anywhere. At the risk of having too many favourites, another is the search function. Having the ability to search my journal means being able to instantly locate entries from years ago, something that would be impossible with pen and paper.
How has Day One helped you journal consistently for 3,200 days?
Day One allows me to record the events of my life like a story from day to day with pictures that I can access conveniently. Many a time I’ve been out with friends and a question has come up about something we did a while ago. Having DayOne on my phone allows me to instantly recall the event and many a time I’ve read out an entry aloud about something we did, much to everyone’s amusement.
What else you would like to share about your journaling streak?
Journaling creates an energy of its own. Once you’ve been writing for a few weeks/months, you’ve given life to something and you want it to continue. Like many routines one does everyday, it no longer becomes a test of will-power, but rather, an urge that needs to be fulfilled.
Somehow, the day only seems complete when I’ve written up my journal.
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The Day One journaling app makes it easy to build and maintain a daily journaling habit. Daily journaling reminders, daily writing prompts, and journal streaks are designed to help keep you motivated and consistently journaling.