The Way I Journal: Cameron Moll

[Day One] Who are you and what do you do?

[Cameron] I’m Cameron Moll (@cameronmoll), a designer, speaker, and author living in Sarasota, Florida with my wife and four sons. I’m the founder of Authentic Jobs (@authenticjobs) and Type Structures (@typestructures), an endeavor to print letterpress posters that reimagine buildings as if created in type.

When and why did you start journaling?

I didn’t start journaling seriously until about the time I went off to college. I think at that point I matured enough to realize the importance of capturing the thoughts I was having, the experiences, names of people I was interacting with, places I visited… all those things. In retrospect I wish I would’ve started sooner—a lot sooner. I started taking the idea of journaling seriously, but really didn’t start journaling on a regular basis until around the time I started having children. The idea of journaling really hit home with me when that happened, and I started to devote a lot more time and importance to capturing what my day was like, what my experiences were like, and wanting to make sure I could share those with my children at some point. That’s when I set aside a day of the week, Thursday morning, to make sure I wrote something at least once a week, if not more. I wanted to make sure I was capturing those experiences my kids were too young to understand, but would appreciate reading later on in life.

When you left for college, was there something, or someone, that inspired you to start journaling? Or, was it something you always wanted to do yourself and just came around to it?

I’m not sure how to answer that. [Long Pause] You know, I grew up where I have a long line of ancestors who have kept journals. So growing up I was able to read from those journals, and hear stories from those journals from great-grandfathers and that sort of thing. My mind had been exposed to the the idea of capturing one’s experiences ever since. I think, as I began to mature in many areas, this was just one of those areas that finally stuck. The idea of allowing others to see who I was through the notes I was capturing became something important to me and something I made time for.

Did you start journaling with paper when you started taking journaling seriously in college?

Yes, strictly paper, really, until Day One came out. I’m kind of obsessed with capturing my own handwriting and allowing those who read my journal at some point to see me through my handwriting. And so, even when Day One came out, there was some initial push back in my mind to capturing something digitally and allowing posterity to know me through a computer font rather than my handwriting. Of course when I started journaling, computers were just becoming affordable and available to the masses. But, you know, for a while I put up some resistance to using a computer to capture my thoughts and my experiences.

Would you say Day One changed that for you?

Yeah, I definitely think it did. The overall accessibility of Day One, the fact that I can use any of the devices I have with me or at my desk or at my nightstand at home—I think convenience begun to trump posterity being able to read my words. It is one thing for them to see those words with my own handwriting, it is another thing for me to just simply get those words somewhere in the first place. I found that, because of the time and challenges the act of writing takes with a pen and paper, I missed capturing some of the experiences that might’ve been captured quickly through a digital format that I happened to have with me.

Do you still keep a paper journal?

I still do have a paper journal. As a matter of fact, I wrote in that journal recently because I felt, at some point, those who read it would appreciate seeing my thoughts in writing as well, and not only digitally. Right now I keep both, writing more frequently on Day One, but from time-to-time still using paper.

Do you focus on longform entries, or more on capturing the little moments of life?

I’d say neither one of those, and I’ll explain why. For me, “journaling” isn’t about, “Is this something that is going to require paragraphs to explain?” or “Is this something I can quickly capture with a photo or with a sentence?” For me, “journaling” is capturing those experiences that, if not captured, I may forget someday, and experiences I want other people to know me through. For me it isn’t about focusing on longform or snippets. It is simply: “Is this something important to capture?”. It doesn’t matter if it takes two sentences or a couple of paragraphs.

For me, there is kind of this mental divide between journaling and all of the other posting that I do in other devices. I view Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as journals of sorts, in that they are capturing this running narrative of who I am and what I’m experiencing. I allow that to capture some of the experience I have—like my son’s soccer game or camping with my family—and eventually sharing those with friends and family or followers. My journal is really those things that are private to me, in some cases even sacred, that I consider only close family members ought to read. At least right now, maybe at some point my journals will be released to a larger audience, but, right now, only the very important individuals in my life are the ones that see it, sometimes. I’ve shared my journal with only two or three people outside the close circle of my wife and kids. Actually, I take that back. I have read from my journals to audiences to show some thought I had, and this is usually at a web design conference, or a church congregation. For the most part, my journal includes private matters that are important to me. I’ll let Twitter and Facebook tell the rest of the story.

That is very, very interesting. Was it always like this, or has the was you journal changed?

No, I think I always looked at journaling as exactly that—just capturing experiences that I feel are very important to me to never forget and allow other to see and experience. My journals were never, “Dear Diary” sorts of journals. There was always a focused approach of opening the pages of my journal to capture the things I hope I will remember for a very long time.

You mentioned previously that you set a specific day for journaling? With your increased use of Day One, do you still keep a routine?

Let me actually check my Day One… For sure, it is no longer a Thursday-only activity for me. It was done, initially, I would say, to make sure I captured at least something once a week in my journal. Now, with the convenience and accessibility that Day One provides, I see I journal pretty much every day of the week. The goal of writing on a regular basis is still accomplished, it is just no longer a set date every week. I occasionally write several entries in a week and then go another one or two weeks without adding anything, the important thing is:

1) Am I doing it regularly? 2) Am I capturing experiences that might’ve been forgotten otherwise?

Do you recall your first Day One journal entry?

I do, and it was something like a first Twitter entry. It felt like a first Twitter entry, anyway, given it was a very short one. I’ll share it with you: “I have a wonderful family. I have much to be grateful for.” My second entry right after that, I made two entries that day, and it was a bit longer. Here it is: “This is a really simple journaling app by a good friend, Paul Mayne. It syncs with Dropbox and makes journaling as easy as tweeting. Consequently, on a day like today—tsunami in Japan, first day of SXSW, etc.—it seems an appropriate time to start using Day One. (Mac, iPad, iPhone)” That was the extent of my second entry and that is not typical of what I record. As a matter of fact, it is the complete opposite of the things I normally write, but I felt it was important to capture my first spin at trying this new thing. Looking here, right after that second entry, my third entry was already twelve paragraphs long, mainly talking about my son wanting a dog for Christmas and the typical family discussions associated with that decision. This is a typical entry for me, and I guess I just needed to settle with the first two to then start capturing in-depth experience more.

Do you write mostly on the iPhone, iPad, or the Mac?

iPad the least, iPhone second, Mac first. Oh, paper journal in fourth.

How many entries do you have in your journal?

I have 125 entries so far. About one per week, given I started March 2011.

You said that journaling was as “easy as tweeting” with Day One. Does that still hold true with you?

Yes, I’d say that over 50% of the entries here are short sentences. An example of this, which I actually tweeted out, is a thought I had one of these days about design. I just had to write it somewhere not to forget it. It later turned out that it was worth sharing on Twitter:

“Tip: The best design critiques I’ve experienced began with ‘Here’s what I think is working well’ before sharing what wasn’t.”

It was just a thought in my life that I wanted to make sure I would never forget. There are numerous entries in my Day One log that are like this, one or two sentences only recording things I will forget if they are not recorded. It can be as easy as tweeting, but the idea of recording something fast is something that is common to both.

What is your favorite or most-used feature in Day One?

Hands-down it is the ability to access one repository from numerous devices. That alone is the most important thing to me. I wouldn’t be able to record thoughts like the one above as much if I didn’t do it digitally.

I’m guessing that by the way you say your journal you don’t follow any journal organization rules?

I don’t. I don’t have any structure other than making sure what I put in my journal is something of value. Simple as that.

Have you ever relied on Day One for something unexpected, or used it to recall details about a specific event or date?

Not really. For me, my Day One journal is something with a very specific focus. I like the features in Publish, but it might take me a while to warm up the idea of sharing some of my entries in public, much like it took me a while to start journaling on the computer. Mentally I don’t want to mix things up. Day One is a private tome of my life, and Twitter and everything else can take care of my other experiences—what I’m doing, who I follow, where I am—all of that. For now, I’ll use Day One like that: To capture thoughts, memories, and experiences valuable to me.

Thanks for your time, Cameron! People like you really inspire us to keep building great software.

About the Author

Tulio Jarocki is a student, design aficionado, and journaling enthusiast. When he is not writing about the rewards of journaling for Day One, he can be seen drinking coffee, running, or just out and about in Boston.

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