Portrait of the Artist as a Man
May 9, 2017

Artifacts made with @dayoneapp

 The first two months. The first two months.

In July of 2012, a few days before my 30th birthday, I downloaded a little app called Day One onto my iPad. At the time, it was one of very few applications designed specifically for journaling in the App Store. The interface was clean, simple, and inviting. I didn’t use it too much that first month but took to it in August after API found a tool online that would pull in additional things like Foursquare, Instagram, and Twitter.

I’ve been mediocre at keeing a handwritten journal for extended periods. With my handwriting being illegible, and only serviceable after atively working on it for a while now, I can’t actually read everything I’ve put to paper. The internet really changed that for me. I’ve written in journals on and off for years, regularly writing about myself ever since Livejournal was a thing in college. I spent something like a decade of my life on that service which, when I exported it all a few years ago, ended at about 6000 pages when done.

After linking Day One to various services and seeing all the natural media I produced in one place, I was hooked. You can see the first two months of Day One. I hit my stride in August of 2012. Funnily enough, my writing style still sounds like I’m writing for an audience. I guess nearly 2 decades builds some habits?

An excerpt from my first written entry in Day One:

I feel like refried beans. In refried beans, beans are cooked and mashed and drained of excess liquid. They are then stirred, potentially reconstituted with chicken stock, and fried over a hot pan in lard. The process leaves them whipped, pasty like the inside of a hangover in the desert. Sticky. Dry. Paste.

I feel like refried beans.

Over the years the application got new APIs here, a little integration there, but kept writing entries the easiest thing you could do. And I wrote. A lot. It’s been 1773 days since I downloaded it, with 2008 discrete entries and 1430 photos. 50 of those entries and 39 photos came from the two weeks in Chicago last year when my dad died.

It was that point where I went searching for ways to make manifest that particular journal. Though it was an absolutely terrible event, I knew I wanted something of who I was then to survive for some future me to see. I was vulnerable in a way I don’t think I ever truly am when writing for the internet. Those attempts failed, though, because of how hard it is to move one data format to another, format it, and then print it with anything resembling readable layout.

But. Last week Bloom Built added a print feature to Day One.

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To say I was excited is… insufficient… evem r especially because of the specific journal I wanted from last year. I have 5 years of journaling in that application. Thousands of pages. And the thought of laying out all of those pages, even a year at a time, is overwhelming. Hours and hours of work.

Day One turned that process into just minutes of effort.

The workflow to create the books is as easy as writing entries. You choose the journals, choose the year, create the cover art and vital statistics, and it does the rest. You upload the files, pay right on your device, and a week later you receive your life, perfect bound, and in vivid color.

They are wonderful. Hefty, smooth pages. Rich color. Beautiful and sturdy covers. And remarkably compact conidering that each of those books is about 400 pages.

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I’m just so thrilled with these that I ordered the last two year’s worth of journals - 4 books in total (I just ordered the second half of last year, I didn’t notice it got split into two) equaling about 1600 pages across all of my journals. Over the next few months I’m going to print the entirety of my journal. 5 years worth of personal history - the good, the bad, and the unedited.

Those 50 entries from Februray 2016 are still pretty raw. I read through them, hard as they were, and am still grateful of what time I had with dad then adn that I had the grit to write all the awful things in my head. And the silly things. And the frightened things. Because that was all me adn that was the last bit he dn I shared.

So… if you’re looking for a way to journal better but don’t want to lose the artifact you get at the end of a full notebook, this is a pretty darn good option. That t can tue together everything in your digitral life is nice.

But it’s the open page where you can just be is worth it in any form you can take.

Read about the application here: Day One


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Death in your pocket I’ve been trying to summarize what has been running around and around in my head for the last year. I’ve been thinking about death and dying and