Posted on Feb 8, 2014 | 6 comments

Photo Credit -Stephan Rosger

Photo Credit -Stephan Rosger

I’ve been there before. Writing in a personal journal consistently for weeks or even months until finally the thought pops in “will anyone ever read all of these words I am writing?”

You have possibly been there as well. It can be sort of a downer and mess with the journaling motivation that is often so hard to gather up. Conjuring up so much thought, emotion and story telling only to wonder if those words will ever been seen by human eyes again.

Sometimes writing in a journal feels like throwing a pebble in the ocean or (worse yet) writing a comment on an obscure YouTube video. Not only will no one ever see it again, if they did would they even care?

Despair not fair journal keeper. Your words shall not be in vain! Write on and go on with your writing because, even if no other human in the world reads your words, I’ll give you two grand reasons on why you should continue with your efforts on a consistent basis.

The first is that the actual process of writing is so beneficial in itself. Mental health professionals often suggest keeping a journal to work through issues- even if you burn or delete your words after you are done. The act of materializing the thoughts in our minds onto words on paper or a screen can be very powerful.

The second reason is that there is at least one person that should read old journal entries you write…


This can be an overwhelming task itself, but it doesn’t have to be. The first thing you need to realize is that it doesn’t matter which entries you read and you don’t have to re-read all of them. One thing is almost for sure- there will be some entries that will never be read again. That’s okay, read as many old ones as you can fit into your routine. You will not only re-remember history and interesting stories but you will also learn lessons about yourself and probably be entertained along the way.

The other reason you don’t need to be overwhelmed with rereading old journal entries is because it is even easier with digital journaling. I’m sure many in the plain text community could explain how a script could be written to automatically send you old entries from a simple Word document, but I don’t have a clue how to do that. I do know, however, that there are two journaling services that do exactly that- Penzu and Everyday Timeline.

I’ve used both of these services in the past and now I consistently get old entries emailed to me automatically. It is a very interesting and fulfilling way to relive my life and remember tender stories from my past.

Even if you don’t want to use Penzu or Everyday Timeline you may want to consider transferring some or all of your digital entries into these services just so you can have them emailed to you automatically.

Some journal entries may be written to never be read again, but most aren’t.

  • Nathan Ohren

    Thanks Sam. I agree! I find that one reason I like to keep a catalogue/index of all my entries is so I can go back and find the relevant writings I’ve made on a particular subject.

    • Sam Lytle

      If only we were all as organized as you are Nathan! How do you do this? Have you written a post on your indexing process?

      • Nathan

        It’s something that’s taken me a long time to polish, and still gets refined over time. I like your idea for a post on this. Maybe we can discuss more in-depth on Capturing Life…?

  • BakariC

    With Day One, you can easily filter entries and review them. I’m also enjoying reading my Day One entries in printed book form. Though many of last year’s entries are familiar to me, I think rereading becomes more interesting several years after they are written. And I agree some entries are mainly useful for when they were first written.

    I do have one suggestion for better journal entries: try using a thematic approach. Write several entries on the same topic, issue, or problem and see if that makes a difference.

    • Sam Lytle

      Search is a great part of reading old entries, Bakari. I’m glad you brought it up.

      Printed entries is also a great way to flip through and quickly see your words from the past.

      Great suggestion on using a thematic approach to try and keep thoughts more cohesive.

  • Polly Anna Watson

    With Penzu, we can add tabs for easier searching….I wish they had an easier functionality to move between my various journals because I have several journals, but mostly, it’s worth using….