Handwritten VS Digital Journals

photography of book page

In our modern times, there are two distinct ways to keep a journal: handwritten and digital. In my younger years, I dedicated myself to first scribbling in notebooks. Later, I’d extract the best bits and reproduce them digitally. As I entered my college years, though, I began to transition my writing entirely to digital mediums. 

Even now, as I almost exclusively compose digitally, I continue to ask myself on occasion, have I lost something by focusing on digital journals? Should I continue a handwritten journal simply to connect with my thoughts in a different way more frequently?

On one hand, there’s nothing quite like the tactile experience of writing in a physical journal. There’s a certain organic connection between hand, writing instrument, and paper that’s simply impossible to replicate. I suppose now with the tablet and stylus combination that you can approximate that action. But, it’s not quite the same relationship.

Some sensory experiences just can’t be replicated in the digital realm: the feel of pen on paper, the scent of ink, and the crinkling sound of turning the page. There’s something special about watching as your thoughts and emotions materialize in front of you onto a blank page.

Also, when writing by hand, it’s much easier to get creative with your journal. You can add doodles, stickers, or even dried leaves or flowers to your entries. Each page can become its own work of art. While you can approximate these things digitally, it doesn’t have the same impact.

Still, digital journals offer a number of benefits that handwritten journals simply can’t match. The convenience of being able to access journal entries from any device, anywhere in the world where there’s a Wi-Fi connection, is unparalleled. With a digital journal, I don’t have to worry about carrying around a bulky notebook or pen, or worse, losing my journal. All my words are safely stored in the cloud, ready for me to access whenever I desire.

Plus, digital journals offer a level of organization and searchability that handwritten journals just can’t match. With a few keystrokes, I can find specific entries or keywords within my journal archives, making it much easier to refer to and further reflect on past experiences.

All that said, digital journals lack the special, intangible quality that makes handwritten journals so unique. There’s a sense of nostalgia and romance attached to the act of physically writing, ethereal connections that can’t be replicated by working with a screen.

Ultimately, the decision between handwritten and digital journals really comes down to personal preference. Many writers prefer to always have a handwritten journal on hand for their more introspective musings and creative expressions, with a digital journal available for more practical, day-to-day reflections. The beauty of journaling is that a highly personal experience that can be tailored to fit your own unique needs and preferences.

Do you prefer handwritten or digital journals?

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.

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