As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m journaling the heck out of this relocation experience. I may not be making as much sense of things right now as I’d like – that usually takes more time and distance. But I will have the details as I saw them when things were fresh, raw and new with all the roller coaster dips and climbs as they happen.
During this time when each moment is precious, I often face a choice: email a friend or write in my journal. As soon as I discovered email, I recognized its power as a personal history archive or journal. But who has time to sort through half a million emails to find those key 100? Especially when they’re scattered across half a dozen accounts and … you get the picture.
A couple of months ago, the lights went on. I saw a way to combine three main journaling streams – paper journal, a journal in Word, and email. I can write a long email detailing current stress and success, then copy the relevant part and paste in my Word Journal doc for the current year. That part is a no-brainer. The key to making it work for me right now is to pick up my paper journal and make a one line entry: “Aug. 30, Sunday, see Word Journal.”
I don't use my Word Journal nearly as often as my paper one. My Word one is lovely with virtual pink paper, a string of red hearts atop each page, and a handwriting font in blue ink. Realizing that layout is dependent on having that font installed and Microsoft’s history of changing document storage formats, I know better than to rely on Microsoft for long-term stability. I have 25-year-old Word Perfect files I can still access, but the layout and font info are out the window.
The simplest solution is to save each year's volume in PDF format, with the font embedded. Embedded fonts are the default if you create the PDF document with Word. PDF format is widely regarded as the most stable format for long-term accessibility. I'll also keep my word docs and revisit them every few years to keep them fresh.
Ultimately I may print them. Paper is still the most likely and accessible form for some descendant to find hidden away 85 years from now.
Returning briefly to that paper journal – sometimes I jot quick memory notes on random scraps of paper. I don't recopy those. I tear them out and stick in the relevant spot in my journal.
Write now: start adapting this system to fit your preferences. If you journal only on your computer, form the habit of pasting in relevant snips from email. If you don't have a digital journal, start one. It doesn't have to be fancy like mine. A plain old Word file will do. Just date each entry as you start and leave a couple of extra lines at the end. You can easily go to the end of the document via Ctrl+End. Hopefully a Mac user will leave a comment about how to do this in your version of Word.
With this simple system you can have many of the benefits of journaling without ever specifically writing a journal entry!