Call it a blessing or a curse, but one option you have keeping a digital journal that you don’t with handwritten ones is that you can move/duplicate/delete the files. This can be done either purposefully or even on accident if you are not careful.

An extension of this ability is that it is sometimes possible to move your journal entries from one eJournal to another. Unfortunately, however, this process is cumbersome at best and excruciatingly frustrating at worst. This is likely because these software developers aren’t looking for compatibility with competitors but focus rather on macing their own applications better.

I’ve been dwelling on this subject lately more than usual because I am currently embroiled in the process and on the aforementioned frustration spectrum, I am leaning towards the ‘worse’ end. I spoke of my reasoning of why I switched from Wonderful Days to Penzu a few months ago, but this is the first time I have talked about the actual process of switching. Yes, it is still a work in process, even months later. Instead of giving you a blow by blow of my personal experience (of which very few will deal with), I present six items to consider when/if you decide that the first eJournal you chose isn’t the best choice and you want to migrate to another.

1. Size

If you have been keeping your journal for quite some time on a regular basis (like I did), you will probably have many entries. If you have enough content to make a complete ‘journal’, consider just starting over in the new one without moving anything at all. A good rule of thumb is that 50,000 makes a good printed journal, so if you are anywhere near there, I would just print out the old one (saving a digital copy, of course) and start over in the new journal. If you don’t have a word count feature, count your words in 10 random entries, average them and then multiply that number by the number of entries you have. This should give you a decent estimate of your word count.

2. Media

Depending on how exactly you have been keeping you journal, you could have much more than words in your entries. These could include pictures, video, audio, tags, emoticons and links. Unless you have some sort of compatible file you are transferring over, most of these will have to be transferred, entry by entry. This will be a good time for you to decide what is really important to you and don’t be surprised if you drop everything except for the pictures. Look into what sort of extraction your current journal will use to export these files. Wonderful Days dumped them into a folder which wasn’t ideal, but could have been worse.

3. File Type

When it comes to file type, there are two to consider: export and import. I thought the whole process would be pain free in my own experience because Wonderful Days exported to Evernote and Penzu imported a variety of formats. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my homework before hand and couldn’t get the files to match, thus necessitating an entry by entry conversion that I have been bemoaning about. If you are moving a blog into a journal, you might be in luck because many of the higher end, paid online journals (such as Penzu and Live Journal) allow you to import RSS feeds. Others may also be able to import PDFs, which would be the best case scenario. If you are able to find an export file that matches your new journals import options, consider yourself lucky because this whole process will probably only take a few minutes!

4. Moving Entries

When it comes time to move each of your entries (if I haven’t convinced you not to do it and you file types don’t match), you need to consider how you will do this. For example, if you have been using Momento for the iPhone and want to switch to Day One, your first impulse may be to just use the copy/past feature on your smartphone to do this. If possible, DON’T. Day One has a Mac version and Momento allows you to backup to iTunes so use these to bring them to your computer first and then do all the copy and pasting on your computer. It will be so much easier for you. So, in summary, moving the entires to an actual computer will simplify the process, especially if you have a lot of entries to move.

5. Privacy

This didn’t even cross my mind before I went through this process, but moving files will possibly make them vulnerable for a period of time. If you move your entries/pictures into a folder, consider hiding it or password protecting it until the process is complete. When you are all finished, make sure that you track down all of these files and delete them. As I repeat incessantly at Easy Journaling, if you journal isn’t private and secure, it might as well be a blog.

6. Developers

Never forget that those who make these great applications are usually responsive and concerned individuals we call developers. When all else fails, contact the developer to either improve your old eJournal to the point of being usable or else ask them for assistance in how to move your files to their journal (this would be the developer of your new eJournal). Don’t be surprised to be assisted by these friendly strangers, although this trick failed in my own experience.

So, there you have it. Hopefully you never get to this stage, but if you do, now you are prepared to consider your options carefully. Best of luck!