The Way I Journal: Valerie Elkins

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

[Valerie] Hi, I am Valerie Elkins (@elkinsvalerie), and I am a professional genealogist, family history researcher, presenter, and writer. I am passionate about helping others find their stories and leave a recorded legacy. I recently wrote an ebook, “30 Days to Becoming Unforgettable” (free download available at with journal writing prompts that I record using Day One app.

When and why did you start journaling?

I started journal writing when I was about 12 and have kept one ever since. I use a journal to record and process my thoughts and to leave a legacy—a written history of my life and my family’s lives.

What is your journaling routine?

I schedule my journal writing using journal prompts once a week and journal during the week according to what’s going on in my life and my need to record and express my thoughts and feelings or to remember a particular event.

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

I do both. I write a narrative most of the time, but I will use Day One on one of my devices when a memory or thought comes to mind that I want to capture before I forget.

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

I most often write from my favorite comfy chair, usually early in the morning while the house is still quiet.

How many entries do you have in your journal?

I am still pretty new to Day One. I was a die-hard handwritten journal devotee for years and never thought I would ever use a digital journal. I was doing research about journal writing for a presentation and explored the Day One app and I quickly saw the merits. I like the ease and the speed of using a keyboard when I am writing, I appreciate the ability to add pictures, locations, time and tags and to go back into time to record an event that I had handwritten in my paper journal. Being able to print and share to Evernote and social media are also options that I appreciate.

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

I have Day One on all my devices. I create long posts on my Mac. I record memory flashes and future journal prompt ideas on my iPhone or iPad.

Do you follow any journal organization rules?

The only rules I have are to use the full name of a person the first name time I mention them and, if I use nicknames, I identify who that person is. I’m a family historian and so many times I wish that people who were mentioned in letters or on the back of the picture had been identified instead of being forgotten with time. If I use some obscure reference, I try to explain it. I want my posterity to understand me and what I am writing about, so making my meaning, references, and important details clear and less likely to be misunderstood or not comprehended is important to me.

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

I write a journal “prompt” in future entries for the whole year using the calendar. My journal prompts are meant to be thought provoking and cover the most important things I want to reveal about who I am. Planning my posts ahead makes sure that they get recorded.

About the Interviewer

Dallas Petersen is Day One’s product manager by day (and some nights). When he’s not working, he’s hanging out with his wife and five kids and/or playing board games.

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