To journal on paper or digital? And what daily endeavours could significantly improve one’s writing and visual output?

One of the things I’m trying to do is to write a journal daily, but for the last year or so I’ve already switched to a nearly paperless system using Goodnotes. My setup is that I use an iPad Pro 11″ which I think is a good balance between portability and power, and with that I use the Apple Pencil which allows me to write and draw on it. Before settling on Goodnotes, I did a test drive of several other apps such as Notability, Morpholio’s Journal, Inkredible, Mockup, and Paper, but I went with Goodnotes specifically because of:

  • Instant OCR of all handwritten notes
  • How the search results for OCR keywords is presented
  • Some drawing tools such as straight lines, highlighters, and sticky notes
  • Less drawing tools – less faffing about (if you present me too many options I will get distracted)
Handwritten Digital Planner in Goodnotes

For most purposes, this seems to work. I keep my daily planner on Goodnotes, and a series of “catch all” daily notebooks in which I scribble everything. If something is truly important to hold on to or must be archived, I will export it into a PNG and paste it into my Notion, or upload it to Google Drive.

So far the system works well, and setting aside about 10 minutes every morning to write is quite liberating – its like a special me-time that I don’t usually get as a full-time working mother!

Journalling (ie: either by writing or typing) on screen or tablet is totally fine, but I also do express some things in sketches, and I have to confess that it feels as if I get a mental block much quicker and its harder to get into the flow when I draw on digital.

Why? Could it be the size of the canvas? Although the digital canvas can be zoomed in and out of, it is still a tiny window of 11″. Is it because the tablet is small (only 11 inches) whereas my mind feels freer when I am staring at a big sheet of paper? The same way one may feel different if you work in a place with a higher ceiling vs a low ceiling? (Fun fact: I once turned down a job offer only because the ceiling in the office was too low. I know, a completely bizarre reason, but I couldn’t imagine working in an office with the Damocles Sword hanging so close to my forehead)

Daily habits: As I move into the formless, self-determined schedule of a PhD student, I wondered what daily habits I should force myself to keep. Writing is key of course, so I am thinking the current habit of trying to write for 10 minutes every morning is a good thing to keep on doing. But I also wondered if I should add a mandatory sketching requirement to my day. What would come out if I forced myself to also sketch on paper daily? A page a day? Are there other mediums I should try to work in daily? To aim to do a daily blender file? A daily unity project?…

Here are examples of what I did, all on Tuesday….

Daily Sketchbook?
Daily Blender Render?
Daily Unity Experiment???

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