The Way I Journal: Shawn Blanc

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

[Shawn] I’m Shawn Blanc, I run three websites:,, and, the newest one. I work from home–for myself–managing these websites, doing some writing and editorial direction on them. All of it is focused on software and cool stuff like that.

When and why did you start journaling?

I’ve been keeping a journal for probably twenty years or so now. I started when I was pretty young, about 12 years old. The reason I started journaling was to have an outlet for writing—it was a way to chronicle the things that I was doing throughout my day and keeping a log of events. I’ve had seasons where I focus more or less on that. I’ve always focused on processing life, recording memories or feelings that are interpersonal. Usually it is stuff that has to do with what I’m going through: relationships, work, etcetera. I’ve always enjoyed journaling as a way to process life as I’m going through it and as an outlet for doing writing that is personal.

Did some specific event make you start journaling? Was it something you set out to do for the rest of your life?

It was never a specific thought like, “I want to journal for the rest of my life.” I was never trying to start a life-long habit. My dad has always journaled. I can remember for most of my life waking up in the mornings, going upstairs and seeing him on the couch, reading and journaling with his morning cup of tea. I definitely saw that from my dad. I don’t think there was a specific moment, person, or event that made me think: “I should start a journal.” I just have the memory, from years ago, of starting a journal and starting to write down the things I was doing that day. Maybe a Bible verse that was important to me, or an event that was meaningful that day.

What is your journaling routine?

I really don’t have one. I’ve had different routines off and on. I’ve had it where, at the end of the day, I’ll drop in a list of what I did that day in Day One. I’ve had it before where, in the mornings, I included journaling in my morning routine. But I don’t really do either of those right now. It really has been off-and-on—sometimes I have routines, sometimes I don’t. Now, I write when I’m interested in something, sometimes I feel the urge to write something down. It is a little more spontaneous.

Do you focus on longform writing or capturing small memories of life?

I’d say both. One thing that I really like about Day One, and this is where Day One really took off for me, is the ability to add images to my journal. You guys added this feature sometime in 2012. That was a huge thing for me because I felt like I could capture the small moments of life through pictures and easily drop that into Day One. Before I focused more on longform because I was writing in an actual journal with pen and paper. Day One has evolved quite a bit, so now I focus on both longform stuff and in the small details, whatever is important at that moment. Or, maybe if there is something heavy that I need to process by writing about it in my journal, I do so in Day One.


Do you have a favorite spot you like to journal from?

Not really. Pretty much anywhere.

What was your first entry in Day One?

My first entry won’t be my actual first entry in Day One. When I started using Day One, I started importing entries from another service I used called Oh!Life. I was using that for a while, starting way back in 2005. Obviously, Day One didn’t come around until much later. There were some journal entries that I added to Day One from word documents and other digital files. All of my paper journals are still paper journals, but everything that I’ve done digitally I copied and pasted into Day One. My only digital location for things journal related today is Day One. My first entries goes way back to 2005, but 2009 was when I started doing more digital stuff. 2012 was when Day One added the picture functionality, so I started using it regularly ever since.

You mentioned previously that you journal both digitally with Day One and physically with notebooks. Why do you still keep a paper journal?

Yes, I do. There is something special about writing with pen and paper—I just enjoy it. Sometimes it’s just more healing, or even thought-provoking. Analog writing with pen and paper is something I still enjoy occasionally.

How many entries do you have in your journal?

I have 241 entries so far.

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

I think my favorite feature is a combination of the ability to add photos and all the extra metadata that gets added to an entry along with the content—weather, location, date, and time. To me that’s super valuable. It’s a quintessential example of using iPhone technologies to add value to something without any extra work on my part. I can look at it later and see all the things surrounding the entry—it contributes to the memory.

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

I probably use Day One the most on my iPhone or on my iPad. Most of the pictures are taken on my phone and most of the longform entries are done on the iPad, mostly because my Mac is on my desk in my office. I’ll usually just take my iPad to the couch, coffee shop, or backyard to get away from work and write my thoughts down.

Do you follow any journal organization rules?

No rules whatsoever. It can be work related, it can be personal, it can be statistics, it just can be whatever—anything that seems worthwhile. I guess for some people, having a focus or a set of rules might help them know what to write about. I find that I put more in my journal when I have no rules on what to add.

Do you tag your entries?

I use tags for family, kids, dreams, and work. If it’s an obvious tag, I’ll tag it right away. I’ve never had a problem finding things with Day One’s built-in search. The interesting aspect for me is not the tag of an entry, but its date. I always love to know what happened a year ago from today. That’s all the organization that I really need—dates.

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

Sure. Ideas, goals for the year, and things of that nature. It’s not just a journal of memories, or just a log of events—It is a container for anything that’s important to me and that I want to write down.

Thanks for your time, Shawn—It’s been a pleasure talking with you!

There is a lot more to come over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

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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