Keeping a Journal: Beyond Pen and Paper

Starting Out

I remember learning about journals when I was young. My mom would sit at the table late at night, writing furiously. Sometimes, she’d stop and ask for my help with the details. I soon followed her example and started a journal in a marbled composition notebook, which I did for more than a decade.

Thanks to technology, I have many options outside of pen and paper. (My formerly ink-stained left hand thanks me.) I now think of my life experiences in layers. Each “layer” is based on how many people see it, and I try to capture pieces from each one.

Technology: the Outer Layers

Preserving memories is one of my favorite uses for technology. I can’t believe how much it’s changed and progressed in my lifetime!

I love using Instagram and Facebook for sharing pictures of my family. (I also do digital scrapbooks, but that’s another post.) It’s so much easier to stay connected with extended family or see my life (since 2006) in a few clicks. I feel like social media is my outermost later. I have hundreds of friends that aren’t necessarily close to me in real life, but they can get an idea of what I’m up to.

Going one layer deeper, you get my blogs. Here, I share my hobbies and general thoughts. My personal blog (on Blogger) serves as a summary of my family’s day-to-day activities. I update that one once a week and occasionally look back on it, especially when I’m trying to write a Christmas card at the end of the year! Since I already post pictures on social media, I don’t include many on my blogs.

I often have a child on my lap while working.

Still Paper: the Inner Layers

Though I use technology for most things, I couldn’t get rid of pen and paper completely. I occasionally have thoughts or experiences that I don’t want to share with anyone, so I keep a little notebook for processing these experiences. The physical act of writing helps me feel better when I’m going though a rough patch. I probably write in this journal 1-2 times a month. Once a year, I upload the pages to my Google Drive so I can look back on them easily. These are the things I most often go back to read. I’ve learned a lot from my past self!


Every piece of information counts, no matter which layer of your life it comes from. I’m grateful that technology makes it so easy to keep track of things. My descendants will probably know more about me than they ever wanted to, and I haven’t kept a traditional journal in over a decade now!

I have more posts about making and recording memories here.

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